Have you ever been somewhere and wondered what’s around you, or where the nearest cafe, pharmacy, petrol station or whatever was?
Around Me harnesses the power of GPS, Google and the Internet to know your location and what’s around you. Open it and it lists 20 categories that starts with Local Guides and finishes with the weather. FYI, it doesn’t actually find weather for you, just a three-day forecast. Here’s a rundown of the categories:
Local guides • Apple Retail Stores • Banks/ATM • Bars • Coffee Shops • Favourites • Gas Stations • Hospitals • Hotels • Movie Theaters • Movies • Nearby • Parking • Pharmacies • Pubs • Restaurants • Supermarkets • Taxis • Theaters • Weather
As you can see it’s an American app (gas stations indeed!) and has a bias towards entertainment, but considering its US origins it works surprisingly well here in Australia.
Here’s how. Select a category, say coffee shops, and it brings up a list of business names and addresses, sorted by distance (in km!) and with a direction arrow to give you a hint which way it is. Select one and it opens a Google map that shows a blue dot for your present location and a red pin for the destination. It also displays a contact number a website link if it has one. At the bottom of the map are three symbols and from left to right (on an iPhone at least) they let you choose turn-by-turn driving or walking directions; add the destination to your Favourites or share the details via a text message, email, Facebook or Twitter.
But wait there’s more!
Select the Hotels category and it not only lists local properties, it shows availability for that night, price and lets you make an online booking all in one go! You can also check future dates (or it will just list hotels, but you can choose by rating, price or distance). Select Movie Theaters and it also tells you what’s on at what time (for the next week) and details each movie, plus provides a link to the official trailer, the website and more. How cool is that?
Not all categories have individually selectable preferences and because Around Me pulls its information from various sources, including the Yellow Pages, it might not ABSOLUTELY have every whatever-it-is you’re looking for. But it certainly puts in a good effort (and if you don’t know what’s around you won’t know what you’re missing).
The Nearby category is useful from a travellers’ perspective, providing details of surrounding towns/localities, landmarks, historical buildings, places of interest and so on; all powered by Wikipedia.
Here’s a tip! If you’re looking for a pub you’ll have a lot more success under Bars. As the Yanks would say: Go figure...
But that’s a small gripe. Although the app is free it’s worth paying the $2.99 upgrade to ditch the annoying ads.
The biggest downside to Around Me is the need to be connected to the Internet, so you’ll need a data bundle with your phone or tablet device if you’re using it on the move. Otherwise, if you can find a wi-fi hotspot without it (and why doesn’t is have a category for them?), plonk yourself down there and you’re in business.
From a motorhomer’s point of view, not listing caravan parks or tourist information offices is a bugger, but that could come. In fact I’m just going to shoot them an email now, but in the mean time Around Me is a terrific free app that’s terrificer if you buy the upgrade and ditch the ads. So THAT’S where my nearest Apple Store is!
THE LOW DOWN
Free (with ads)
$2.99 ad-free upgrade
For the full article download Issue 20 of iMotorhome eMagazine by clicking on the link below.