The World Factbook for iPad

App review by
Erin Wilkey Oh, Common Sense Media
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Database of global statistics is a great reference tool.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn information about the countries of the world, from basic facts such as geography, climate, and languages to detailed statistics like the number of Internet users and total kilometers of paved and unpaved roadways. For each country, kids can browse nine categories including government, economy, military, and more and can view two maps and an image of the country's flag. With guidance, kids could use The World Factbook for iPad to enhance classroom learning or to launch their own interest-driven exploration.

Ease of Play

The information is organized and easy to navigate. On the left of the screen, users toggle between the Locations, Maps, and Comparisons lists. From the Locations list, kids choose a country and can browse the list of data or jump to a specific section by tapping the icon for that information.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reference app provides relatively up-to-date profiles of the countries of the world. The developers pull from The World Factbook, a print and online resource the CIA publishes under public domain. The developers of The World Factbook for iPad claim to update the app monthly but don't appear to be keeping to that timeframe. Kids will need strong reading skills to navigate the primarily text-based profiles.

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What's it about?

This reference app provides data on the countries of the world. Users choose a country on the left side of the screen and read the profile info on the right. Profiles are divided into nine categories: introduction, geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues. A Comparisons feature lets kids view individual subsets of data for all countries, for example, the birthrate for all countries from highest to lowest. Maps include global regions as well as individual country maps.

Is it any good?

The World Factbook for iPad does a fine job presenting the CIA's remarkable database of information in a mobile format. The navigation is straightforward and easy to figure out, and the comparison charts are fascinating for kids and adults interested in the "big picture." Another plus is that all the information lives in the app, so users can access it offline. Curious kids could spend hours reading about global history, government, health care, and transportation systems –- and they would've only scratched the surface of this impressive database.

It's unfortunate the app doesn't offer more engagement for younger users. The heavily text-based design is okay for self-motivated kids or older users, but without some other source of inspiration, kids may not dig too deeply here. In addition, the data isn't updated as frequently as the developers claim. As of this review, it's been six months since the last update. Users may want to double-check on the official CIA website if they need up-to-the-minute information.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Encourage your kids to use the Comparison tool. Ask them about differences and similarities they notice. Which country has the highest rate of infant mortality? Why might that be?

  • Direct your kids to the CIA's website to look at the official version of this database. The homepage offers a few fun ways to begin exploring the site.

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding, events, geography, global awareness, government, history, the economy
    Language & Reading: vocabulary
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, collecting data, investigation, making conclusions, part-whole relationships
  • Price: $1.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: June 5, 2012
  • Category: Reference
  • Size: 34.80 MB
  • Publisher: Fuzzy Peach LLC
  • Version: 1.1.13
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 3.2 or later
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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