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Top Android App: Google Maps (Labs Update)

Posted on Dec 9, 2009 in App News, Top Rated Apps, Travel | comment

Application: Google Maps
Version: 3.3.1
Size: 2.70MB
Category: Travel
Price: Free
Overall Score: 5/5
User Interface: 5/5
Ease of Use: 5/5
Customizability: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Indispensability: 5/5
I’m giving a short review/tutorial to the newly updated Google Maps so you’ll know how to access the new features on your Android phone.
The newly added Google Maps Labs allows you to access new features that include:
·         Scale bar: Shows a scale bar on the map with distances in meters and feet.
·         Terrain layer: Adds terrain layer to the layers menu.  This layer adds elevation shading to your map.
·         Popular catergories: Shows a list of category searches when you use the search menu button.
·         Layer button: Adds an on-screen button for easy access to layers (don’t need to hit menu first anymore).
·         Compass arrow: Uses the digital compass to indicate the direction you are facing.
These new options can be enabled or disabled depending on what is useful to you.  The addition of Google Maps Lab definitely adds more functionality to the Google Maps app.  I’m also figuring that Google will likely add more useful Labs options to the app in the future.
What I think is the coolest addition to Google Maps is the new “What’s Nearby” option.  In order to access this feature, long press on the map in a location you are interested in.  This could be where you currently are or where you’re going to be.  This will bring a popup window with that location.
Next, click on the window to open more options about that particular location on the map.  You will notice that there is a new option in this drop down menu, “What’s Nearby?”  Selecting this will show you a list of the 10 closest places, including restaurants, shops, and other points of interest.
Choosing one of the items in the list brings up the normal Google Maps options like Show on map, Get directions, Navigate, Call, Street view, etc.
Now you can answer the question of “what’s nearby” and find some new and interesting places to visit/enjoy.  The great thing is, now you can do this on the fly with as little effort as possible.  Android and Google making things easier as always.
I’m sure everyone already has and uses this app pretty much on a daily basis.  For the few of you who do not, here’s the barcode you can scan with Barcode Scanner to take you directly there in the Android Market.
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Android App News: Google Goggles

Posted on Dec 8, 2009 in App News | comment

Here is the Google website for their newest Android app, Google Goggles.  Check their site out along with our review:

Enjoy the awesome new Android app!

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Android App: Yelp

Posted on Dec 8, 2009 in App News, Travel | comment

Note: I’m not going to review the Yelp app officially just yet because I feel that many new updates will be coming to this app in the near future.  This is more of an informative news article/brief review.
Today the Yelp app was released to Android.  If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for this app for quite awhile now.  I like writing reviews for Yelp and I also almost never go anywhere without first reading up on other peoples’ experiences with a restaurant, business, etc.  For this reason I am very pleased with this new addition to my Android phone.
The main page of the app allows you to view nearby listings for the main categories like restaurants, bars, etc.  This is great for a quick find.  If you select a category, you can see a list of all the nearby businesses listed with their name, rating, address, distance, and price range.  Furthermore, a very useful feature from this page is the Map button.  With this, the Yelp app will show you your GPS location and also the locations of all businesses around you in the category you selected.  This is great if you don’t feel like traveling too far for what you want.
When you select a particular business, you get expanded results building off of what you see in the previous page.  Here you can read individual reviews, instantly map the location to get directions, or hit the Call button to quickly get in contact with the location.
Lastly, the Yelp app saves a history of what you have searched for and clicked on.  This is a convenient feature so that you can return to previous searches you may have been considering but hadn’t decided upon yet.
The reason I did not assign this app a review score yet is that it’s brand new and I feel like Yelp will be adding a lot more functionality to this app very soon.  Right now you can only search for and read reviews.  You can not write reviews from your Android phone, submit photos, or any of the other truly interactive options you’d expect from this app.  The reason I am confident these will be added is because that’s what Android and having a smart phone is all about.  If I just had an amazing meal at a new restaurant or extremely friendly customer service at a business location, I am much more likely to write a rave review right after the experience than when I get home.  The Yelp app (and Yelp itself) will see more reviews and activity if it makes these features available.
All in all, I enjoy reading Yelp reviews and using it to make informed decisions.  Because of this, the app is a great addition to Android.  Test it out and see what you think.

Scan with Barcode Scanner for direct link to Yelp in the Android Market.

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Android App News: Google Goggles

Posted on Dec 5, 2009 in App News | comment

CNBC is running a special called “Inside the Mind of Google” that will be aired multiple times in December.  An exciting part of the show is the fact that Google has opened the blinds to one of their newest endeavors, Google Goggles.  This latest service will allow you to take a picture of a place or thing and instantly get a Google search for it.

A lot like PlinkArt does with artwork, Google Goggles will allow you to instantly look up information even if you don’t really know what you’re looking at.  This would be extremely useful on a vacation to a completely new city or country.  Simply take a picture of what you see and quickly have information and history about what’s in front of you.

Now, this service has not been officially released and I’m not sure when it will be, but I’m definitely looking forward to how useful it could be.

Here is a brief portion of the ”Inside the Mind of Google” show that has been posted on YouTube.

Also, here is a list of future runtimes for the show on CNBC as well:

Saturday, December 5th  7p ET
Sunday, December 6th  10p ET
Thursday, December 10th  8p | 1a ET
Thursday, December 24th  4p | 8p ET
Friday, December 25th  Midnight ET

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