National Parks by National Geographic is a stunning interactive guide to the parks in the US. It also arrived just in time since National Parks Week just kicked off on the 21st of this month. It is the perfect companion app if you are planning on visiting one of the parks or just want to learn something about them.
When you run the app you are greeted with an absolutely beautiful loading screen that has a slideshow at the bottom with pictures from the parks that are breathtaking. When the app finally loads (It takes a noticeably long time to go beyond the sponsor page) you are shown a nice wall with images of parks taped on it. This app also uses the swipe-able overlapping pane UI that apps like Facebook and Path use and I love the animation when a page is changed on this app where the previous page moves to the background and the new one slides up.
Since this is a guide app, almost every page has an option to view a map and everything mentioned has its GPS coordinates so there’s no way you’re getting lost with this app. Each park has its own elegant page with statistics about it and local weather. The amount of effort put into the interface here is unbelievable. In fact the weather section here puts most dedicated weather apps to shame. The statistics page gives you some brief historic statistics about the park.
While the actual guides are only available via IAP, you can still see information about the park along with Camping and Lodging details. You get one complementary park guide of your choice. The actual guide has four sections : Photo Tips, Park Secrets, What to See and What to Do. The Photo Tips section is my favourite. It has some spectacular shots from the park by National Geographic photographers along with information about the shooting conditions and other comments. Each section has a very nice photograph on top. National Geographic have gone all out with even the smallest things like map pin placements and map information. The sliders that let you filter the locations on the map by activity and season will be very useful for visitors.
As a photographer you would probably want to pick up this app along with most IAPs so you can learn how to recreate some of the amazing shots by brilliant photographers. When you purchase a guide, its photographs are added to the photos section. The sheer amount of information in this app is staggering and it has you covered on all bases. There is a separate section on itinerary that lets you add your own and an Editor’s pick with some more tips for first time visitors.
If you’re thinking of visiting one of the national parks or just want to gain some knowledge and drool at some great photographs getting this app is a no brainer — it’s FREE on the App Store. Its utility and beauty are on par and while getting all the park guides will cost you a lot, the information and photographs provided make up for the hefty price tag.