August 30, 2010 | by Lars Aronsson
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the CIA with information and statistics about the countries of the world. The Web version gets around 6 million monthly visits, and it’s frequently used for academic research papers. There’s an app on the Market with the ambition to give quick access to the World Factbook on your Android phone called FactBook.
The app is developed by Urbian, Inc that has released a whole bunch of Android software lately: most notably Retro Camera and the Brain Cafe games. According to the company’s website, the team is not about building apps, but to “design and build mobile experiences.” A worthy aspiration, and FactBook indeed provides a somewhat different user experience, in part thanks to its iPod click-wheel inspired navigation UI.
When you start the app, you get three options: see by country, see by region and rankings – all while various facts popup at the bottom of the screen. The first two choices will show info about a specific country and a region of the world respectively, and the final one will rank all countries according to different criterion.
After you’ve made your choice, you get to use the click-wheel thingy – love it or hate it, at least it’s different. The information about the world is divided into six categories, including population, geography, government and economy. In general, it’s enjoyable to use FactBook and it presents the data in a visually appealing way. My favorite feature is the Rankings, which really can put things in perspective. It’s fascinating and sometimes also tragic to get in black and white how much things can vary from one part of the world to another, such as the life expectancy: 84 years in Macau and merely 38 years in Angola. I think anyone with a thirst for knowledge, an interest in geography and in facts about countries will get a kick out of FactBook. There’s an ad-free version of the app as well for $2.99.
- Stylish and unusual interface
- Provides convenient access to CIA’s World Factbook
- You can compare certain statistics to a reference country
- Info is sometimes grabbed from Wikipedia instead of the World FactBook, if that’s a drawback.
- Some users may object to the click-wheel
- The installation .apk is almost 5MB