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Matt Carney, Rally Interactive, art director
Ben Cline, Rally Interactive, creative director
Eric Atwell/Geof Crowl/Ben Mingo, Rally Interactive, designers
Adam Luptak, National Geographic/Tyler Martin, Rally Interactive/Scott Newman/Anson Schall, developers
Wes Perce, Rally Interactive, lead developer
Debbie Gibbons, National Geographic, digital production director
Steve Gifford, mousebird consulting, software engineer
Megan Hansen, Rally Interactive, user experience designer
Korena Di Roma, National Geographic, editor
Juan Valdés, National Geographic, executive editor
mousebird consulting, consultant
Theodore Sickley/Rosemary Wardley, National Geographic, digital producers
Julie Ibinson, National Geographic, senior editor
Thomas Cooke, Rally Interactive, producer
Jess Elder/Nancy Gupton, National Geographic, senior producers
Jess Elder, National Geographic, project manager
Rally Interactive, project design and development
National Geographic, publisher

View App

“Google Maps helps me with directions, but National Geographic Atlas had me losing myself in the joy of exploring the world. The interface just makes you want to keep discovering more. A joy to use. It shows the true power of a mobile app well crafted.” —juror Mark Renshaw

“This atlas immediately surfaces unique insights with every single tap, surpassing most experiences that require multiple navigational steps before locating any information of value.” —Megan Meeker

Overview: In mid-2013, National Geographic began to realize that its popular World Atlas iOS app had reached the end of its life: the code base was antiquated, content partnerships were ending, user experience (UX) and user interface models were out of step with consumer expectations, and it lacked the ability to update the maps from central databases. National Geographic sought a total rebuild that was a truer reflection of its tradition of cartographic excellence. The resulting World Atlas app allows users to explore the globe with a tap, learning facts about every country on Earth, from Bahrain to Suriname.

•National Geographic partnered with Rally Interactive for app design and development and with mousebird consulting for the creation of map extraction tools and modification of the WhirlyGlobe engine.
•The app was written in Objective-C and serviced by a custom Python back end.
•The globe itself utilizes OpenGL and a collection of open source physics, math and geospatial libraries.

Comments by Ben Cline, Jess Elder and Wes Pearce:
What do you think are the project’s core features? “Core features include: tapping or searching the globe to retrieve cities, countries or states at any location on the map; dropping a pin on any place on Earth; personal pin lists; flags, facts and stats for every country on Earth; daily content notifications delivered as historical facts and trivia questions; a statistics viewer for quick comparisons and data visualization; a distance tool, which draws routes between any two locations on Earth; and a seven-day hourly forecast for anywhere on Earth.”

Are there any special navigational features? “One of the more unique navigational features is the map callout. We needed a UX solution that could handle a radius of where the user touched. Within that radius could be multiple links to content. The emphasis is placed on country first, continent second. Depending on the zoom level, Nearby Places shows multiple cities in proximity to where the user tapped.”

Are there any other technical features you’d like to call attention to? “One of the key pieces that required special attention was preserving the label placement and proprietary fonts used by National Geographic cartography. This required  a custom piece of software that translates our raster cartography—basically, a picture of a map—into vector information, thereby reducing the overall size of the app and map layers and creating another set of information and metadata that is used in the tap interaction of all labels in the app.”


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