In a city like London, there’s usually a bank or ATM in walking distance. As you leave the GPs, there’s probably a pharmacy somewhere to pick up your prescription. In that last half an hour before you return a rental car, there’s usually a gas station nearby. But can you find these services when you need them?
Tweakersoft’s AroundMe application uses the iPhone’s GPS functionality and Google maps to help you locate services and businesses in and around a particular neighbourhood. You can use your current location as a starting point, or enter an alternative city or town – great when you’re planning a trip away from home.
As you open the application, there’s a list of popular services to browse: from banks to pharmacies and to the all-important local Apple retail stores. With one touch, you can see a list of relevant destinations in that category and how far away they are. With another touch, you’re also able to see them as pins on a Google map, give them a call, or send the details of that new pub you’ve found to a friend via text or email.
One of the strengths of AroundMe is that you’re not just limited to the application’s preset categories. Instead you can use the inbuilt search functionality to look for whatever it is that you need. Of course, it’s not perfect. The data is, at times, inaccurate, or at least not a comprehensive list. Searching for ‘pizza’ worked well for me, but according to the app, I’d need to travel 10km to find the nearest public toilet. When I looked for hospitals in my area, the second result was a veterinary clinic, which is perhaps not quite so useful in an emergency.
Like all mapping applications, AroundMe can be frustratingly slow when you’re not connected to wireless. By the time that gas station you needed appears on screen, you may have already driven right past.
Despite these limitations, AroundMe gives a good basic overview of what’s available. If you’re prepared to accept that the results aren’t always right and put up with Google ads and the occasional pop-up, you’ll find AroundMe a useful tool…wherever you are.