Beaminster — Nov 1st 2016

While there are many apps available to help us find our way using our Apple devices, for the sake of everyone, Michael only discussed the comparative merits of the two best known free ones -Apple Maps and Google Maps, and added Waze, a free sat-nav with a difference, for good measure. These all work on Mac, iPad and iPhone.

The meeting - 18 people including three new faces - was taken through the basics of each of the first two apps, with examples showing how they created routes for motorists (Good), Cyclists (OK) and Walkers (Terrible!), and how they presented the use of Public Transport. While the Motoring routes were all acceptable, together with the ability of the apps to indicate traffic problems in a basic manner, it looked as if Google took a more intelligent approach to keeping Cyclists off of major roads where possible, and also using cycle paths where these exist. As for the poor Pedestrians, the routes for these consigned them to walking the verges of A roads - not a happy prospect for a long hike. Something both apps had in common were the options to avoid motorways and ferries in planning route (obviously the latter would not always be possible) and to tap/click on a named place - a store or shop or attraction, to get details of how to contact them and the opening times, together with appropriate photos. Google Maps added the ability to use Street View to allow a sight (not necessarily up-to-date) of the destination and the roads around it. On the other hand, the Satellite view in Apple is more up-to-date than that in Google. Google has a better Public Transport ability in that it provides information on more localities than Apple. When this is available both apps give details of the services to be used, where to change and which stop or platform to go to, as well as the time taken

Both had the happy feature of indicating where your car had been parked if you had been using the app while driving. while unique to Google Maps is the ability to download a map area for use off-line, though only for driving, not cycling, public transport or walking routes.

The third app, Waze, is a sat-nav that is constantly being up-dated by its’ users who can take advantage of the reporting facilities (for Traffic Jams, Accidents, etc.) that are built-in, and who can also send their ETA to people expecting them. It can also bring up local petrol prices at nearby filling stations and find parking places too. One last trick is to show how much quicker or longer a planned journey would be, leaving at different times albeit over a fairly short period.

None of these apps show footpaths, but a member introduced us to Map.Me, another free app, which does. Worth taking a look at all four!


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