By now, if you’re a smartphone user (and yes, we know that some of you stay away from smartphones) you are already likely reliant on Google, Nokia, or Apple for your map-related needs. But why not kick it old school with MapQuest, the original travel assistant?
I remember when my family used MapQuest printouts for long trips from Tennessee to Montana and Colorado, and it’s a miracle we got by using just that. If you ever made a wrong turn, you were stuck with the consequences. Paper doesn’t reroute very well, unfortunately. However, the service has evolved with new technology, and now you can install the MapQuest 4 Mobile app on your iPhone.
How MapQuest for iPhone Works
The app operates quite similarly to any other maps app that you may have used, so you shouldn’t expect anything too surprising. Searching for a location will display several pins on the visible map, showing you related desired locations that are nearest to you. Generally speaking, I was able to find most locations nearly instantly. However, MapQuest was occasionally unable to find my requests.
For instance, I ran a search for “Krispy Kreme” (which, thankfully, is just down the road from where I live), and the app was unable to find it. Other than that, the search function works decently, but finding specific addresses is a breeze. Directions are given in turn-by-turn, listed, and vocal formats, so you have many dependable options to choose from. The app also displays current traffic, and just for fun, you can change your navigation icon to anything you want – even to a dinosaur.
Additionally, the app offers a unique menu bar at the bottom of the screen with categorized icons related to different places of business and interest. Operating much like the Yelp app, MapQuest will find places for you like nearby hotels, restaurants, and gas stations. Of course, MapQuest has a few chain hotels with their own designated icons, and for the weary traveler, it’s often a blessing to find a trustworthy place to sleep. The app also includes ads, but with a free app like this, it’s expected.
How It Looks
The app makes use of Mapquest’s purple, green, and gray color scheme that is actually pleasing to the eye. Some of the text on the menubar and the map itself is a little difficult to read, but everything fares well for the turn-by-turn and list readouts. Moreover, the text occasionally seems blurry when zooming in or out. Of course, this is likely due to the map not regenerating quickly enough.
In general, the app looks good. I realize that I am rather nitpicky with the text, but despite this, it’s useable. This is a well-made app created by a well-established company. In this case, I wouldn’t expect anything less.
How It Feels
MapQuest 4 Mobile is definitely touch intuitive, and there are a couple of aspects I want to talk about regarding this. For instance, it uses Apple’s pinch-to-zoom feature for its maps, but it also offers on-screen zoom buttons. This is a nice option if you are only able to use one hand. Furthermore, the menubar uses a sliding motion, and the inertia of the graphic is posh. In short, the physical response of this app is very realistic, fluid, and natural.
Using the MapQuest for iPhone app was a pleasure (despite some hard-to-read parts). The category icons for the menubar were actually very specific. For reference, there’s even an ice cream category. As a milkshake lover, I was a little too excited about this.
Let’s be real – the mobile maps market is already pretty well-established. Google is in the lead, and Apple – even with its many mistakes – is right behind it (likely due to convenience). Why would you want to use MapQuest 4 Mobile? Well, namely, its categorized browsing stands out from the rest. To be brief, you should use MapQuest when you aren’t sure what you are looking for.
What other uses do you have for MapQuest 4 Mobile? Do you think it is better than your usual mobile map? What do you like or not like about MapQuest for Mobile? Is the app worth more than just its categorized browsing?