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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Google Map App for Apple and Android Phones- Find Yourself, for Free!

When I first started in TV news, we went to unfamiliar addresses every day- a fire here, a bank robbery there, ribbon cutting somewhere else. And in the back seat of every station car I ever drove was the same thing: An old, dog-eared map book of the town with the most-used pages missing. So, if we wanted to go to 123 Elm St., we had to regularly refer to the appropriate page again and again.

After 2007 or so, GPS came into affordable use and, as a manager, I saw to it that each news car had one on the dash. But this presented a theft and obsolescence hazard as the units aged and was only a temporary solution. A few years later, we were issued new cell phones (Androids) and it didn't take too long to discover the phones had GPS built in! Now, we could find not only numbered addresses, but simply names was often enough to obtain the correct location of where we needed to be, i.e., "Find Chicago City Hall".  The app came from Google was was imaginatively called "Google Maps"
Simple, clear, easy

Apple thought this was a great idea too and eventually banned the Google Maps App from iTunes and introduced their own version for the iPhone and it failed badly.

Really, really badly.

Users were sent to the wrong location, often to remote locations, far from the intended destination. See one man's story here. And the trouble was not just random. It happened to people all over the world. And no one was happy.

Apple was slow to respond, although they did allow Google Maps back into iTunes and since then, the Google app has been a runaway hit. At no cost, Google maps offers the following features:

  • You can search by voice ("Find Candlestick Park")
  • You can pick either graphical or voice directions or both
  • When you arrive, a street view of your destination pops up, so you can confirm the correct location
  • You can use Google Earth to see a satellite view of your spot
  • Traffic jams are highlighted so you may avoid them
Although most of these features also come with just about any GPS device, let's remember that Google Maps is FREE, not $125-$250. It's also updated reguarly and customizable to your unique needs and preferences. 
When you arrive, you get a photo of what you're
supposed to see outside your car window.
So what's not to like? Well, you must have a cell phone signal to obtain the directional info  and images for the phone (not true of dedicated GPS devices) and the app is something of a battery hog (because of the constant data stream) so I recommend you plug your phone into your car's power supply all of the time- has inexpensive ones here.  

To see what others think of the app, has posted an article where they use Google Maps and provide a short opinion piece on it. Click here to see it

To see Google's home page about Google Maps, click here

And don't get lost doing it!

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