Archive for the ‘Smartphone’ Tag

MapQuest 4 Mobile

Recently, I moved to an unfamiliar area and found that even common errands, like trips to the grocery store suddenly became more complicated.  After living in the same area most of my life, I had grown accustom to knowing where everything is, the post office, the gas stations, the little shops I frequented. Now, finding the closest 7-Eleven is a chore. Then to top it off, I have to get from here to there and all I have is an address.  Most of the time I can find all this information on my iPhone, even my bank has an app for that.  What I really needed was a GPS, one that could give me directions but I didn’t want to buy another device to add to the ones I already have with me all the time.

So begins my search for a GPS iPhone app that is both effective and economically smart, meaning I won’t get lost and it’s free. The latter being the most important.  My mobile carrier is AT&T and they offer the app AT&T Navigator for iPhone, which is probably a very good app because they send my repeated emails about it on a monthly basis.  Unfortunately, it has a $9.99 per month subscription fee. That is a little pricy for something I will only use until I become more familiar with this new area and then very sporadically after that.

My search continued and eventually I found it. MapQuest 4 Mobile. This has become my lifeline to discovering how to get there from here.  It is one of the more useful apps on my iPhone lately as I explore this new area. It’s the GPS without the GPS price tag.

Easy to use and well thought out, it gives me a list of twenty choices to find almost anything from movie theaters to hotels, banks, and restaurants.  Locating coffee shops near me is now a simple task. I’m no longer driving around searching for a good cup of Joe, I just select “Coffee Shops” and it adds them all to the map, giving me to names and addresses of each one.

The live traffic option updates every five minutes to give you a better idea about the road ahead and appears to be quite accurate in locating all the slow spots. So far I’ve been able to skirt a few traffic jams by taking an alternate route because I could see that slow moving red line. This is a real time-saver.

One of my biggest requirements was to have an app that speaks to me while I’m driving. I generally try to keep driving simple, no texting or phone calls.  The last thing I wanted was an app I had to look at every few minutes to make sure I was still on track.  MapQuest 4 Mobile speaks in a slightly mechanized female voice that allows me to drive safely, keeping my eyes on the road.

Another cool feature is My Places which is a great place to store your maps.  You must have a MapQuest account to use this feature, but signing up was quick and I was ready to go in seconds. This feature allows you to sync your maps from your online account to your phone.  I like this because I can find out where I’m going later in the day, map it online, then it’s ready to go when I am.

The only drawback is that it can deplete your battery fairly quickly although you can adjust the “Energy Savings” settings.  I suggest that you use your phone charger for your car while MapQuest 4 Mobile is running.

MapQuest 4 Mobile is also available on the Android Market.

iPhone 4 vs. 4S

iPhone 4S

Okay, so the hype is over! Kind of. The iPhone 4S has been released and all your friends have one but you’re still stuck in a contract with your mobile carrier and it’s going to be awhile before you get that upgrade for your old iPhone 4.  The question is: Do you upgrade or stick it out until the iPhone 5? Well here are some things to consider.

The iPhone 4 is only a little over a year old. According to Apple the iPhone 4 was released on June 24th 2010 here in the US, the UK and elsewhere. I actually got mine about five weeks later and two weeks after I ordered it.  While you may feel the need to jump to the next model, the iPhone 4 technology is not so old. I find that my own iPhone 4 is more than capable and sufficient for what I use it for. Granted the 5 mega-pixel camera is a little lame, but beyond that, I am happy with it. It’s still useful to me.

So what’s new in the iPhone 4S? Well, notably the dual-core A5 chip, which definitely speeds things up a bit. The iPhone 4 only has the A4 chip, which is not dual-core, but is still speedy enough for most people.  What the A5 chip will do is give the 4S the ability to run faster graphics, up to seven times faster, which means faster games. Also launching apps, surfing the web, and basically anything else you might be doing will be quicker.  Though, if you are my age, then you know any 14 year old is going to smoke you in a texting contest.

Siri, the on-again-off-again assistant is amazing, even with the troubles she’s had recently with server issues. That aside, I’ve seen her in action, “Find the closest park” or “Call Sam” or “Text Heather.” She answers and does almost everything you tell her. She appears to be the info genius she is purported to be.  On my iPhone 4, I use Vlingo which does similar tasks without the sexy female voice talking back to you. If you can live with the silence, then you’re good to go. It’s also available for other mobile devices. Unfortunately, rumor has it that Apple will not be making Siri available for older iPhone models as the A5 chip is needed to run it.

Apple has completely redone the camera for the iPhone 4S. An 8 mega-pixel camera with newer, more advanced optics, including a lens with a larger  f/2.4 aperture. No, it’s not for the professional photographer, but for your family get-to-gathers it’s a step in the right direction. The 4S even comes with a few editing features such as cropping, image rotation, red-eye removal, and image enhancement. In addition to the camera features, you can record video in 1080p HD, yes High Def! Edit and send your Spielberg-like creation on the fly.

Of course, the iPhone 4S comes with iOS5; however you can upgrade your 4. I love the 200+ features added to iOS5. The pull-down Notification Center is something I’ve been wanting since I bought the phone, and I can see it on my locked screen. Other new features in iOS5 are iMessage, Reminders, and my favorite Twitter as part of the OS. Apple’s online storage, iCloud, which gives you 5GB of storage for free, is also available with iOS5 so you can manage and store all your files in the cloud.

This is just a small sampling of what you get with the iPhone 4S. So do you upgrade or do you wait for the iPhone 5? Well, this is Apple, even without Steve, I think it’s safe to say that they will introduce some amazing new features when the 5 is released.  If we are lucky, the iPhone 5 will be released in 2012. But really can I wait that long. I’m trying but it’s getting harder and harder. I’m up for an upgrade next month.

I’ll let you know.

Posted November 17, 2011 by Scott in Mobile Devices

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