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Just in time for our Christmas Road Trip, the Melway mApp arrives for iPad, iPhone and iTouch.

See the Ausway announcement here.

Find it listed under Melway mApps in the Apple App Store.

The following products exist:

The Melway Quik mApp (free, with sample maps)
The Melway mApp (currently AUD $19.99, with all maps)

So: why would you hand out $20 for the mApp?

Of course, it also competes against Google Maps: and "free" has got to seem very tempting compared with $20. At this point I refer you to my earlier posting: Google Maps: #Fail.

It's delightful to see the full detail of Ausway maps on an iPad. Compare any two locations between Google Maps and the Melway/Ausway mApp equivalent and you'll immediately spot dozens of places where the Melway version is better: bike tracks, paths, accurate depiction of streets etc.. Don't get me wrong: Google Maps has its strengths: Street & Satellite views. But for accuracy and for well presented, detailed information, start with the Melway/Ausway map. (And then switch to Google Street View if you need to see what a building looked like on the day that Google drove past it.)

The mApp interface works nicely: you can swish around maps and pinch to zoom in easily. The mApp shows is physical map heritage: you need to go to the Map List and choose the "Swy" (Sydway) and "Bwy" (Brisway) maps etc. if you want Sydney, Brisbane or other maps. (You only get a selection of non-Melbourne maps.) The detailed maps of a city (all the "blue" pages) are joined together as a single map that you can swish from edge to edge. But at the border of your city you need to switch to the regional scale maps. As far as I can tell, every map published in any Ausway directory is included in this app. The "Find Place" option lets you search for anything that would be in a directory index: so you can search for schools, parks, major buildings etc. using Street Search. (But you can't zero in on a street number.)

This app isn't a direct equivalent to a GPS map unit. If you want left/right directions, they'll work better. To work out where you are, the mApp will use GPS to pinpoint your current location, and you can add Waypoints so you can immediately jump to a location. You won't get turn by turn directions. Think of a GPS map as being for point to point work, and think of the mApp as a way of working out better routes, or giving you a much better understanding of any area that you are looking at.

Here's the mApp version of central Melbourne (click to enlarge):

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Google Maps' latest attempt at a Melbourne map (click to enlarge):

Don't try and have a drink at the Riverland Bar: you'll get rather cold and the trains running nearby will be noisy. And nobody will serve you a drink, because you won't actually be at Riverland. You'll be standing forlornly in the multi-storey car park that Google hasn't noticed.

Are there trams in St Kilda Road? Which route numbers? I see that it possible to drive down the City Square between Collins and Flinders Lane. That's useful. (No, it's not. Don't try it, you'll get arrested.)

By the way: Somebody seems to have replaced the Art Centre Spire with an office block.  Must I go on?...

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Comments (1)
Anthony Holmes December 19th, 2010 12:47:06 PM