Modern Atlas Travel Guide & City Maps — nearby places in Wikipedia & Wikivoyage ($0.99) by Eric Wolfe is a beautiful app for helping you plan and make the most of your next adventure. If you love to travel, or even just explore the world and take time to plan your dream vacation, then this app is a must-have on your iOS device.
It’s officially summer time, and that means that many of us are doing some traveling, or are planning to. Or, if you’re like me, you probably can’t afford to travel the world whenever, and just take vacations whenever you’re able to. Either way, going out and exploring the world is a great thing and something that everyone should do multiple times in their life. However, with so many possible destinations out there, it can be a little overwhelming when it comes to planning everything out for your dream vacation. Fortunately, Modern Atlas is a fresh new take on the travel guide, making the process of preparing your trip easy and simple.
In terms of visual user interface design, Modern Atlas is gorgeous. It goes for a simple and clean aesthetic that fits in well with iOS overall, and it’s just great to look at. Modern Atlas also places a heavy emphasis on visuals, including gorgeous photography that are shots from actual travelers, which is rather inspiring and a great way to get familiar with how places and landmarks look, even when you’ve never been there before. Even if you aren’t planning a vacation soon, it’s fun to just go through the app because of the pop-up detail boxes, insanely detailed maps, fast search, and exploring the spots that you have to add to the “bucket list.”
All of the various spots and businesses are color-coded as well, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. The chosen Avenir typeface also means that everything is super legible and easy-to-read, which just tops off the overall experience. Modern Atlas also has some rather subtle animations as you transition between different views and details, but everything is smooth and fluid. I did not experience much lag on my iPhone 6s Plus as I was navigating through the app and even going through a 3D map. Overall, I think the developer did an excellent job with how Modern Atlas looks and feels while in use.
On the initial launch of Modern Atlas, users will be greeted with a few introductory screens that shows the basics of the app. Once you go through those intro screens (or just skip them), the app will also walk you through the process of creating your first map guide. It’s a rather simple process, and lets you get creative and personalize your trip much more than a typical travel guide will.
The first step to creating a map is to find the place you want to explore. Just type in the city or landmark, and Modern Atlas will quickly find the results you’re looking for. Since all of the data that Modern Atlas pulls from is from Wikivoyage and Wikitravel, there are over 21,000 guides that it is referring to. These guides are created by independent travelers and will let you know what the best places are to see, eat, and sleep. And with all of this available data on hand, you’ll always be able to find the spot you’re looking for when you create a new guide.
Once you have picked a point of interest, Modern Atlas takes you to that spot on the map (using Apple Maps) and you will see spots start populating on the map. If this is the destination you want, you can quickly save it by tapping on the “star” icon. As far as the map goes, you can pan around using intuitive multitouch gestures, enable 3D Flyover mode (where available) to take a virtual tour, re-center the map, or see where you are right now in relation to what you want to see.
As far as putting your own guide together, it’s rather easy. Since the map will be populated with a bunch of colored icons of possible things you may want to visit, it may be a bit overwhelming, depending on the location. You can use the filter tools in the upper right corner to view: Your Bookmarks, See, Do, Buy, Eat, Drink, and Sleep. Choosing one of these will get rid of the other points of interest, so that it’s much easier to go through and find what you want. Zooming in on the map will let you see the names of each spot, and tapping on the icon brings up a popup box that gives you a brief summary of that destination. If that small bit of information isn’t enough to sate your appetite, just tap the entire box to view the full Wikipedia article.
While the real magic with Modern Atlas, at least for me, is the fact that you can quickly and efficiently make your own guide of things you want to see and do, there are also “Practical Travel Guides” included in the app. To view these, just tap on the floating button towards the top of the map. These guides will change to reflect the area that you are in on the map, and give you a brief introduction to the area, how to get in and around, what to see, do, buy, eat, drink, sleep, and stay safe. The data for these practical guides is put together by the independent travelers of Wikivoyage, so it’s always current, up-to-date, and full of popular spots that everyone considers a must. If you’re stuck on finding things to check out on your trip, I think these are a great way to find some inspiration.
I may not be going anywhere far this summer, but I have dream spots that I would love to visit someday. I have only spent a brief amount of time with Modern Atlas so far, but I’m loving every second of it when I am using it. The app itself looks incredible, it’s fairly intuitive to use, and the practical guides give you a great springboard of inspiration for planning your next vacation.
The only problem is the fact that the app does require a data connection in order to view things like images and Wikipedia articles, which may be a problem for those who don’t want to have to pay for an expensive data plan overseas. There is also the fact that the app uses Apple’s Maps data rather than Google Maps, which some people may not be too fond of. Perhaps this can be a setting in the future, so that people have options.
Still, Modern Atlas is a solid new way companion app to have while you’re traveling, or just want to start planning your next trip. It also works as a way to help you explore and be more knowledgable about the world while you’re at home.
I recommend giving Modern Atlas a try if you are a frequent traveler or want a slick app to help you create your own travel guides. You can find Modern Atlas on the App Store as a universal download for just $0.99. The price is 80 percent off the normal $4.99 price for a limited time only.