Recently, I moved to an unfamiliar area and found that even common errands, like trips to the grocery store suddenly became more complicated. After living in the same area most of my life, I had grown accustom to knowing where everything is, the post office, the gas stations, the little shops I frequented. Now, finding the closest 7-Eleven is a chore. Then to top it off, I have to get from here to there and all I have is an address. Most of the time I can find all this information on my iPhone, even my bank has an app for that. What I really needed was a GPS, one that could give me directions but I didn’t want to buy another device to add to the ones I already have with me all the time.
So begins my search for a GPS iPhone app that is both effective and economically smart, meaning I won’t get lost and it’s free. The latter being the most important. My mobile carrier is AT&T and they offer the app AT&T Navigator for iPhone, which is probably a very good app because they send my repeated emails about it on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, it has a $9.99 per month subscription fee. That is a little pricy for something I will only use until I become more familiar with this new area and then very sporadically after that.
My search continued and eventually I found it. MapQuest 4 Mobile. This has become my lifeline to discovering how to get there from here. It is one of the more useful apps on my iPhone lately as I explore this new area. It’s the GPS without the GPS price tag.
Easy to use and well thought out, it gives me a list of twenty choices to find almost anything from movie theaters to hotels, banks, and restaurants. Locating coffee shops near me is now a simple task. I’m no longer driving around searching for a good cup of Joe, I just select “Coffee Shops” and it adds them all to the map, giving me to names and addresses of each one.
The live traffic option updates every five minutes to give you a better idea about the road ahead and appears to be quite accurate in locating all the slow spots. So far I’ve been able to skirt a few traffic jams by taking an alternate route because I could see that slow moving red line. This is a real time-saver.
One of my biggest requirements was to have an app that speaks to me while I’m driving. I generally try to keep driving simple, no texting or phone calls. The last thing I wanted was an app I had to look at every few minutes to make sure I was still on track. MapQuest 4 Mobile speaks in a slightly mechanized female voice that allows me to drive safely, keeping my eyes on the road.
Another cool feature is My Places which is a great place to store your maps. You must have a MapQuest account to use this feature, but signing up was quick and I was ready to go in seconds. This feature allows you to sync your maps from your online account to your phone. I like this because I can find out where I’m going later in the day, map it online, then it’s ready to go when I am.
The only drawback is that it can deplete your battery fairly quickly although you can adjust the “Energy Savings” settings. I suggest that you use your phone charger for your car while MapQuest 4 Mobile is running.
MapQuest 4 Mobile is also available on the Android Market.
- MapQuest Vibe – Mapquest, Inc. (itunes.apple.com)
- MapQuest website ranks neighborhoods, amenities (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- MapQuest’s Neighborhood App MQVibe Has a Hidden API (programmableweb.com)