Wednesday, July 8

Don't have to ask anyone... anymore!

Here is a really 'cheap' way of getting around the country and most important... esp. for guys like me, who would rather go round and round but never ask a passerby for directions!

Here is what you need...

Google Maps on mobile download at (free software)
GPRS / NOP - Net on Phone - from Airtel (99 bucks a month - unlimited)
Your Phone (GPRS enabled... most phones today are)

Download the software and install on your phone. Starts working almost immed. (all you need is a gmail account).

The latest version of this software uses 'triangulation techniques from cell phone towers' to place you within 40 metres of your real location... pretty neat I must say.

If you want more accurate information of your location at every moment... get a phone with GPS inbuilt or you could do what we did...

I just got an external Bluetooth GPS receiver. The GPS receiver broadcasts my location via bluetooth to my phone and most of the time we are able to find our position within 4-7 metres. Really awesome!

If you are planning to buy a new phone - get one with GPS receiver inbuilt.

Accurate Maps
The advantage of the Google-Maps-based option is that these maps up to date and user defined. Yes... there are some cases when we have landed at the wrong location because some user did not know how to place the 'marker'... but in most cases the maps are updated to show 'one-way-streets'...very useful when you are driving through cities like Bangalore - city of confusion!

Gettign Directions by Search
Search the address/street/pin-code of the place you want to go ... the software gives you options if there are more than one destination that meets the search requirements and all you have to say is 'get directions' from current location to the destination! It gives you very detailed directions... turn left after 200m, etc.etc..... or you can ask for map view... it will show you a distinct line on the map... as you move!

Latitude with Attitude
The new Google Maps has a function called Latitude... it basically broadcasts your current location to your friends... it is really neat and allows you to set the level of privacy... so your entire details are not seen... but atleast it can be set to show what city you are in right now!

I found this very useful to keep my dad's nerves calm. I have a webpage setup for him so that he can track us day-or-night and see where we are... this is helpful especially during long drives when there may not be mobile network in the resort/lodge.

Other GPS options
I saw some demos (at Staples) for GPS solutions (MapMyIndia and SatGuide) but I was not impressed with the quality of the maps on display. Really need to use the stuff to see if the voice commands are good enough... then the display does not really matter. They are anyway more expensive than the Google Maps solution that I use.

However... the stand-alone GPS solution does have one advantage.... the google maps solution will not work if you do not have GPRS connectivity... it is mobile network dependent!


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