Who doesn’t like free? And who doesn’t like great iPad apps? When the two come together it’s good stuff. With that in mind, we’d like to share our Best Free iPad App of the Week here every weekend.
This week’s pick is Fotopedia Heritage – a wonderful app that’s at once a superb travel guide and also a gorgeous photo book of some of the most stunning places on earth.
Created in cooperation with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Fotopedia Heritage provides a virtual passport to the hundreds of sites that constitute the world’s collective cultural and natural human legacy.
It’s packed with 30,000 beautiful photos that will have you dreaming of trips you need to take to places all around the world. The sheer quantity of photos is impressive too – just as one quick example, there are over 3,100 images for Europe.
Just as a quick indicator of how great this app is, I should mention that when I first looked at how many sceenshots I had grabbed to share in this post the count was well over 30. And it was very tough trimming them down, as the images are all just so damn good.
The app’s home screen offers three sections: Photos, Stories, and My Activity. The Stories section has Top Ten entries for various countries – USA, Spain, Russia, France, China,and incredible spots like Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Petra, Tibetan valley, and plenty more.
The app’s interface is simple and nice to use. It’s easy to browse through photos by places / regions that interest you, to switch in and out of slideshow mode, and to toggle on and off the Point of Interest descriptions for each location. The descriptions are stellar by the way, provided by UNESCO and Wikipedia.
Controls and buttons are toggled on and off with a single tap anywhere on the screen. The main controls on the left side of the screen are Shuffle, Play (slideshow), Favorite, Show on Map, Show Details, and Search. Shuffle mode is big fun – and a great way to discover all sorts of little-known stunning places.
A strip at the bottom left of individual photo pages shows you where you are in terms of the hierarchy of sections. For example, Europe > Northern Europe > Estonia > specific place. You can tap on any level to go to the photo set for it – e.g. tap Charles Bridge under Prague / Historic City Center to go to the set just for the bridge, tap Prague to go back up two levels.
Of course the photos are what make this app and they are suitably spectacular – and the app has recently been updated to support the new iPad’s retina display, so if you’ve got the 2012 iPad you’ll enjoy them in all their retina glory.
You can keep track of spots that catch your eye (there will be tons, believe me) by saving as favorites, share images via email, Twitter and Facebook, and even save the images to the photo library for use as iPad wallpapers.
You need an active internet connection to use the app. Given the sheer quantity of images at retina display quality this is a good thing as I dread to see what sort of storage space this would chew up if a major portion of its content was held locally.
This is a great app, one that’s a pleasure to spend time with and easy to spend a lot of time with. Oh, and of course it’s a great source of inspiration of you’re thinking about travel at all.
Here’s an App Store link for Fotopedia Heritage. It’s a universal app designed for both iPad and iPhone.
If you’re after more great free iPad apps, be sure to check out our previous choices for Best Free iPad of the Week.