Google has made a number of applications designed specifically for mobile use, available on m.google.com. Of these the most prominent is Google Maps, making sure that you’re never lost again.
Using either inbuilt GPS or through cell triangulation, it can pinpoint your location with remarkable accuracy. This in itself is often all you need to find your way – but it doesn’t stop there. You can then plan the route to your destination by foot, car or public transport and it will give you a handy list of instructions as well as the expected purple line on the map itself.
Your “blip” on the map is updated at regular intervals, and even has an arrow showing which direction you’re moving in. After all, when you’ve stumbled out of a tube station – who really knows which way North is?
For many people, this isn’t a replacement for a traditional SatNav as it won’t give you instructions as you go and won’t auto-correct the route if you make any mistakes or take a detour. However, it is very handy for checking what route you should be taking before you set off.
If you mount your phone as you would a SatNav, a quick glance is all that it takes to make sure you’re still following the purple line. If you do find yourself off route, the interface is hardly optimised for using when in the car, so you’ll need to either pull over or get your passengers to lend a hand. You can also get up-to-the-minute traffic news – something that is usually sold at a premium.
The latest version of Google Maps comes with the controversial Latitude, so you can track your friends and avoid them accordingly. If you don’t want people knowing where you are – don’t worry – this is something you have to make a point of turning on.
Much like the desktop version of Google Maps, it allows you to find pubs, clubs and restaurants nearby. As this is done on the fly, unlike a SatNav, it will also bring you extra information such as websites, phone numbers and user ratings.
The downside to Google Maps is that it is a little data heavy as it downloads both information and maps on the fly. This is usually pretty fast, but when zooming in and out, the delay can be a little irritating if you have flakey reception. This is especially noticeable when using the satellite view, which pulls down high-resolution images. It does display how much data is being downloaded though, if you’re concerned about your data allowance.
Google Maps would certainly find its way onto our “must have” list and, best of all, it’s completely free so there are no reasons not to try it.
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