Let’s play a game:
You wake up. You’re outside, laying on hard ground. The sky above is blue, with fast moving clouds. You have no memory of falling asleep anywhere but in your own bed, and you have no idea where you are.
You look for hints. The road is dark gray asphalt. The lines running along its center are white and broken into long strips. The dirt off the shoulder is a reddish brown. A car passes. The model looks familiar but the license plate is blurred, offering no clues.
You stand and find yourself uninjured. Where the hell are you? You walk east, keeping the sun out of your eyes as the shadows lengthen, and eventually you spot a road sign. It’s in Spanish. That narrows it down to around 22 countries where Spanish is used.
So begins Geoguessr, a browser-based game which uses Google Street View and a map of the world to challenge you. It’s not strictly iOS-only, but if you try it on the desktop and then on the iPad, you’ll see that it really shines on the tablet. I’d recommend the Retina iPad though, as you can’t zoom in Mobile Safari and sometimes being able to read a distant sign is the difference between Brazil and Portugal.
Geoguessr works like this: You are dropped into an unknown location, and you get the usual street-view arrows to move yourself around, letting you swipe and tap your way down the road. To guess, you click the small map in the top right corner of the screen. The closer you get to the right spot, the more points you get. The game lasts five rounds, and you can share the score via your social networks when you’re done.
I’m addicted. There’s something about working out where you are on the planet without all the usual aids, using just your eyes and your general knowledge. Red earth makes Australia likely. Cars driving on the left means Britain, Japan, Australia, New Zealand or Hong Kong, but it also means at least one previously unknown-to-me island off China.
Sometimes you’re dumped on a road with seemingly no clues. Other times you’re dropped in a city, or you see (like I did today) a van marked “Polynesian Adventure Tours” or something similar, and click on Hawaii (I “won” that round – just 200km off). Yes, you could cheat by looking up the place names you see on signs, but that kind of defeats the whole point of the game.
So go grab your iPad and get guessing. I just wish there was an actual iOS version so I could challenge you all to a game.