Map­ping a new course with smart­phone apps

Jamaica Gleaner - - FEATURE - – TNS

WHEN IT comes to map apps, con­sumers are find­ing plenty of fresh paths to dig­i­tal nav­i­ga­tion, thanks to Google, Ap­ple, and a whole host of ri­vals.

Here WeGo, Waze, MapFac­tor, Mapquest, Scout GPS, Maps.Me and InRoute are just some of the apps that are chal­leng­ing Google Maps and Ap­ple Maps, which dom­i­nate smart­phone map­ping ser­vices by fo­cus­ing on new and novel fea­tures.

Google and Ap­ple, though, aren’t con­tent with stay­ing in the slow lane of in­no­va­tion. Both have added new fea­tures to their map apps in re­cent months, in­clud­ing en­abling users to add in­terim des­ti­na­tions to go along with the ul­ti­mate stop on a trip. Google’s changes rolled out in an up­date to Google Maps this sum­mer; Ap­ple’s is in­cluded in iOS 10.

“Just open the app, en­ter a des­ti­na­tion, tap the cor­ner menu, and then click add a stop,” Google says in a blog post. “To re­ar­range the or­der of your stops, tap and hold the three-dot menu to the left of Add Stop and drag it to the po­si­tion you want.”

The Ap­ple Maps ser­vice has new fea­tures that seek to meld ac­tiv­i­ties and ser­vices as­so­ci­ated with a trip.

“Apps like OpenTable can in­te­grate book­ings right into Maps,” Ap­ple says on its web­site. “Ser­vices like Uber and Lyft can make it eas­ier for users to book a ride without ever leav­ing the Maps app.”


And while this nav­i­ga­tional arms race shifts into high gear, it’s be­come ap­par­ent that the orig­i­nal stand-alone GPS de­vices are be­com­ing stranded by the side of the road.

The pro­lif­er­a­tion of smart­phone apps has re­shaped a mar­ket once dom­i­nated by the stand­alone ma­chines, such as TomTom, Garmin and Mag­el­lan. Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search firm Berg In­sight, world­wide ship­ments of per­sonal nav­i­ga­tion de­vices have de­creased from 40 mil­lion units in 2008 to a pro­jected 11 mil­lion by the end of this year. That num­ber is ex­pected to drop to just 7 mil­lion in 2019 — less than a tenth of pro­jected smart­phone map app users in that year.

“Most con­sumers are us­ing their smart­phones as their pri­mary nav­i­ga­tion and map sys­tem,” said Ben Ba­jarin, an an­a­lyst with Cre­ative Strate­gies, a mar­ket re­searcher. “Re­tail­ers, in a lot of cases, don’t re­ally pro­mote the stand-alone de­vices any­more.”

The es­tab­lished map apps from Google and Ap­ple of­fer a wide ar­ray of fea­tures, with the cen­ter­piece be­ing turn-by-turn nav­i­ga­tion. And while the emerg­ing apps also typ­i­cally of­fer turn-based di­rec­tions, they all at­tempt to of­fer niche fea­tures that also can go be­yond the ba­sics of the apps from the tech ti­tans.


GOOGLE MAPS What’s new? The abil­ity to add in­terim stops to a des­ti­na­tion, as well as es­ti­mates for how much time the de­tour will add to the trip. AP­PLE MAPS What’s new? Ap­ple up­grades in­clude an in­terim stops fea­ture; users who want a re­minder of where they parked their car can use a pin drop as a tar­get.


Here are some free map apps that at­tempt to chal­lenge, or, at least, seek to ad­dress some short­com­ings of the two pri­mary pro­grammes from Google and Ap­ple. WAZE What’s new? A cleaner and fresh look with quick ac­cess to fre­quent des­ti­na­tions; a new way to share your es­ti­mated time of ar­rival (ETA) with others. MAPQUEST What’s new? Users can get speed lim­its to ap­pear on their screens, in­clud­ing if you’re in a school zone. The route ahead is shown in what is

JJ­called ‘2.5D’, which Mapquest calls the “Per­spec­tive View”. Dis­tance to a location now au­to­mat­i­cally up­dates. Here WEGO What’s new? Now eas­ier to pick a des­ti­na­tion and scroll to the mode of trans­porta­tion. The app also of­fers ride-book­ing com­pany Car2Go, as well as info on taxi ser­vices. MAPFAC­TOR What’s new? Bet­ter al­ter­na­tive route cal­cu­la­tion; im­proved Google searches; the icon high­lights when search­ing for a point of in­ter­est. SCOUT GPS What’s new? Al­though turn-by-turn nav­i­ga­tion is avail­able, the app fo­cuses on so­cial in­ter­ac­tions. Among the new fea­tures: You can send mes­sages to friends and fam­ily; drive to the location of friends and fam­ily; share your location, route and real-time ETA; and ask a friend to pick you up. MAPS.ME What’s New? The nav­i­ga­tion el­e­ments take up less space; speed is now dis­played; and an au­to­zoom el­e­ment has been added; bi­cy­cle riders can see ter­rain data; search re­sults show ho­tel rat­ings and prices. INROUTE What’s New? Cus­tom routes that let peo­ple avoid the heat on a sum­mer road trip, or for those tow­ing a trailer, ways to avoid steep hills; users can also chose routes with a lot of curves.


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