Excerpts taken from the following article – You are here: We test airport, mall and skyway apps – Julio Ojeda-Zapata.
Internet mapping and navigation services have evolved in remarkable ways, but it’s largely been an outdoors game. When I’m finding my way on unfamiliar roads, for instance, an Android smartphone can give me turn-by-turn directions using Google Maps Navigation, and even show me a photo of my destination using Google Street View. Amazingly, these goodies are free with the purchase of an Android handset.
Other wonders await. Microsoft’s Bing Maps service provides angled aerial or “bird’s eye” views of urban vistas, including downtown St. Paul, in both photo and computer-generated form that can be explored with a mouse, and even an Xbox 360 controller. Bing has its own (not as complete) version of Street View for virtual driving on a computer screen before you do the real thing.
This is all great when outdoors, but what about in a mall or airport? Sadly, the mapping of vast indoor spaces is not as far along. Progress is being made, though.
In recent mall jaunts, skyway expeditions and on one business trip to Silicon Valley, I availed myself of iPhone apps that aim to make indoor navigation easier. The apps didn’t always deliver, but did provide a tantalizing glimpse into the future.
I was much more intrigued by FastMall, a competing app with one killer feature I have found nowhere else: indoor turn-by-turn directions.
Attempting to do this via GPS or other location-fixing technologies is hopeless because these tend to be less precise indoors. Getting a fix using navigation satellites is notoriously difficult with a lot of concrete and steel over your head.
FastMall gets around this, ingeniously, by tapping its own database to create turn-by-turn directions on the fly. The resulting guide is cool: Dotted lines take you from point A to point B using storefronts or other mall landmarks as signposts.
In recent tests at the Mall of America, this worked flawlessly. I looked up a destination in the app database, entered the store closest to me, and FastMall took it from there. Its animated navigation is almost like playing a video game.
I am well acquainted with the megamall, so I noticed FastMall did not always pick the most direct route (by cutting through the mall’s theme-park middle when appropriate, for instance, rather than around its retail-concourse edges). When racing my wife to Cinnabon, I lost by minutes in my reliance on the app to get me there before she did.
But for those unfamiliar with this mall, FastMall would be a time saver.
FastMall, made by New York City-based MindSmack, is crammed with features such as Internet check-ins, a bathroom finder and a parking-spot reminder.
Full article page here.
Download FastMall for iPhone or iPod Touch FREE – http://getap.ps/fastmall