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WHS tracking apps
Personally, I spend much more time behind my laptop than on my phone, but I know that for many others it’s the other way around. I like apps that are very practical: maps.me (offline and very good at hiking trails), whatsapp, uber, even the flashlight! Another good use of an app can be to track where you’ve just been or what you’ve just seen (think of birding apps!). The list of WHS at 1154 items is long enough to warrant a tool that helps you to keep your records. We’ve discussed this subject before in a Forum post, but I think it’s time for an updated look at which apps exist that track your WHS count.
Which apps are available?
I found the following specialist apps:
- World Heritage – UNESCO List
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- World Heritage Collect
- World Heritage Sites Guide by Tripbucket
- My World Heritage Passport
In addition to these, generic country tracking apps exist. Of those, Nomadmania and VoyageX Pro also allow you to keep track of your visited WHS. Apps like Pin Traveler and Every Place seem to allow to place pins freely, but that would take much customization and I have not drawn them into the comparison.
How do they compare?
I compared the 7 ones mentioned above, by looking at their websites and at the actual app on an iPhone. I looked at Supported Operating systems, Online/offline use, the accuracy of WHS, availability (and accuracy) of TWHS, the use of Maps, whether they are up-to-date, User profiles and login, User-friendliness, Advertisements, and Cost.
Quickly it becomes clear that there is one basic requirement: the app has not much use when its WHS data isn’t up-to-date – so it has to keep up with each year’s new additions (and quickly, please!). And the count must be shown and be exactly correct.
Tripbucket (doesn’t seem to bother about multiple Struve sites or Beech forests, has its own list of 1530 “main” UNESCO sites & also doesn’t do a total count), My World Heritage Passport and VoyageX (both last updated 2019) do not even fulfill that requirement. So only 4 apps are left. 3 use the UNESCO-provided data set (items, texts, photos), whereas Nomadmania seems to use its own from its website. All 4 apps are free, only the first app displays a commercial link.
The 4 remaining apps compare as shown in the following table:
What could they add?
The list of future functionalities seems endless. A few examples:
Find visited sites in your photos (‘UNESCO World Heritage Sites’ app has it) – but what’s the use and does it work anyway for a Beech forest? It uses geotags stored with your camera photos, if you have them enabled, and matches with WHS within a radius of 10km. It's probably more of a cool feature for the app engineer than a user.
Show improved location data. We know the default UNESCO dataset of coordinates for WHS isn't flawless. In the Forum post: WHS Maps - the data we already have identified hundreds of such corrections and implemented them in the maps on this website.
Add Tentative Sites. Add a tickable list of TWHS and display them on maps. Nomadmania has, but their list is not up-to-date (and has the disadvantage anyway of not having WH-related maps in the app). As the Tentative Lists are particularly volatile, a constant update process needs to be in place instead of a quarterly or so release cycle of the app builder.
Do you use an app to track your WHS count? What functionalities would you like to see if we would create an app based on this website?
Els - 17 July 2022
Shandos Cleaver 19 July 2022
We’ve used World Heritage about as long as we’ve used this site. The handiest feature is the Around Me list, which is easy for ticking off sites at the time of visit. Plus, as it’s offline, it’s good for re-reading up on a site on the way there, even without data.
Astraftis 18 July 2022
Ah, that's true! While World Heritage shows all beech forests, or St-Jacques sites, it seems it plainly renounces to Mediterranean rock art! But it is the only case. Perfectly understandable, as it would clog the map. In fact, I already experience lags when moving on a mp with no conflated points.
Unfortunately, at the moment I cannot even try the other apps: one requires a newer iOS version, and the other one is too heavy. This might also be downsides, even if I admit my iPhone 6s is becoming rather old fashioned.
Ah, last and least point: one thing I don't like of "my" app is that at different levels of zoom the map only shows collective markers, but I find this unpractical and unaesthetical.
Els Slots 18 July 2022
Thanks for your insight, Astraftis!
Regarding your questions:
- WHS Collect & WHS Collectors are the same (in the App store it's called WHS Collect, in the app itself WHS Collectors)
- With megalocations I meant the WHS with many sublocations, such as Rock art of the Mediterranean Basin. WHS Collect(ors) does show them (you can toggle the sublocations on and off), but I don't see them on the maps of the others.
Will update the table above.
Astraftis 17 July 2022
Is the third app in the list "UNESCO World Heritage Collect"? I could not find anything under "collectors", but this fits. And it looks as something I should give a try (notwithstanding memory issues, I need to change my phone...)!
I also don't understand what you mean by mega-location. Anyway, I am a rather fond user of the first app "World Heritage" and judging from recent updates it seems that it periodically corrects co-ordinates, maybe even beyond UNESCO's ones. One thing that for me is extremely important and necessary is that all locations are there, can be ticked separately and the difference between partially and completely ticked off sites is clear. Also I like the recent update which helps a lot visualising the site types and if they are on your list or wishlist. What you say about lists can be true, especially for something like pile dwellings, but overall it works given the search function. Another plus: its is in three languages (English, French, Spanish).
So I am very positive about it. But I also lack a lot the tentative sites, this would be the greatest addition, and I would accept them being updated only a couple of times per year. Specialised summary counts could be nice, but the glance I can get from the map is sufficient to me. The interaction with a map is of course the heart of any such app.
Els Slots 17 July 2022
I had a look at the MTP app (thanks, Wojciech) but it seems to be not available for download from where I live (NL, iPhone).
Wojciech Fedoruk 17 July 2022
The thing is worldheritagesite.org has the most accurate WHS data and even here information about new TWHS is sometimes posted with time lag. I admit Nomadmania app uses data mostly from here, so in most cases it should be accurate. There may be differences in countries that recently (i.e. during last 3-4 years) changed their T-list. However, coping is manual, so errors are inevitable.
Btw, there is also MTP app, I think they use official data from UNESCO sit.