The new iPhone software upgrade came out over the weekend. Love the fact that the phone I bought a few months ago keep getting better, instead of degrading like my last smartdumbphone did.
The standout shiny new thing in the new set-up is Google Maps, the iPhone’s application which lets you quickly search for businesses, addresses, locate yourself on the map and plan routes.
When I was in Atlanta last week I noticed that at close zoom the buildings’ outlines were shown on the map. Cool, I thought – that’s really useful when you’re navigating one of those anonymous grid layouts and are trying to find a landmark. The new software’s taken a big leap beyond that, however, as now you can click on a location and – where available – move down to streetview.
This is mainly only of use to me in the US, but I understand Google has been building a street-level index of the UK and other European countries over recent months.
So, apart from the geek-thrill of a new piece of tech-wizadry, why is this interesting. Three things:
1. This is superb UI design. My four-year-old son sat on my lap while I showed him some of the parts of New York I’d recently visited. We panned and zoomed. Clicked on the arrows to move us along the street. Searched for a Fire Station for him to have a look at. Easy. He picked up the navigation in seconds, it was hard to stop prodding, squeezing, pushing the screen around to get the views he wanted.
2. This is the best way to give directions / get directions quickly. I wished immediately I’d been able to use it a day earlier to shwo a colleague on his way to New York exactly where on Union Square the Coffee Bar was. again – when you’re looking at a city with a grid system, it’s hard sometimes (for a brain wired in England) to work out where things are on a map, or translate that map into real directions.
3. For some things, I prefer using my iPhone to a larger computer. Google Maps seems faster, more intuitive, personalised, connected into things like my contacts and email, and is just nicer to use. Actually this iPhone bias in my computing usage is evident in a few other apps, like calendar and mail (for checking through large volumes). It speaks to the power of the iPhone but also to the latent productivity potential for multi-touch when it makes it to our larger machines and new formats too.
: : Bonus geek-out… Also love the fact that my iPhone can now download podcasts direct without having to sync with my laptop…