World Wiki Plus for iPhone

Apple's App Store lately bears a curious resemblance to the American book trade of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. At the time, Congress hadn't gotten around yet to settling copyright law. Often, printers would poach each other's works. Royalties existed in theory rather than practice. Writers, as always, were routinely cheated of their earnings. Noah Webster, the dictionary man, fought for years against publishers who made a fortune on his Blue Back Spellers while he struggled to eke out a living.

How does the near anarchy of early American publishing compare to the App Store today? Nobody is poaching copyrighted material, of course. But developers are competing to sell public domain works, or materials they've licensed legally from publishers. It isn't always easy to tell what's what, or what's good. Two developers, for example, are peddling . And there are at least three competing versions of the CIA Factbook for sale.

I reviewed Western ITS's () a few weeks ago. Although the facts within the Factbook are solid, the app itself was a disappointment. Several comments on the piece and elsewhere pointed to World Wiki Plus as an appealing alternative. So I decided to take a look.

The World At Your Fingertips: The entry for each country in World Wiki Plus gives you an overview of the relevant facts. Tapping the menu button in the upper right corner breaks down data by category.

is an inexpensive improvement over World Factbook 2008 (and a slightly beefed up version of Tech Lumina's free ). World Wiki Plus also uses the data from the latest official CIA World Factbook. And although World Wiki Plus has a few shortcomings--very few, really--it has all of the features and the flexibility that its more expensive competitor lacks.

World Wiki Plus has a straightforward, no-frills interface. When you launch the app, you see the A-Z list of 200 countries and territories with their respective flags. Tap an entry and up pops a new window with the country's name in its native language, flag, coat of arms, motto, map, and vital statistics. Each entry is presented as a straight list of facts. If you tap the menu button on the upper right hand of the screen, however, you can have the information broken down by category, such as geography, people, government, economy, an so on.