Getting lost – some call it an adventure, others call it an annoyance. There’s even some who call it something that, due to the presence of younger readers, I’m not allowed to repeat. Whatever the case may be, you eventually (and obviously) want to reach your destination, right? I can think of quite a few times where I’ve been ill-prepared before I venture out to a friend’s new place, an appointment or a social gathering and end up lost. Now there’s no need to slap my wrists folks. That was a long, long time ago, before I has a GPS enabled BlackBerry. Who am I kidding, I still forget from time to time!
I’m always on the lookout for GPS applications that I haven’t tried yet; I’m not completely attached or committed to one currently. If you’re also looking for something new, or are new to GPS yourself, check out the amAze GPS application. With amAze GPS, you’ll have more than just simple navigation; you have access to weather, local searches, multiple map views, just to name a few. amAze offers both free and subscription services, so you can decide what level you want to be at. Let’s see amAze GPS in action, shall we?
The amaze GPS application was first introduced in 2007 and has been in the hands of millions of users. Besides BlackBerry, the application is compatible with iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and Java, so you can see how they could get to millions of users. For a complete list of supported BlackBerry models, be sure to check out their website. An impressive set of features was introduced with version 5.0, which we will take a look at momentarily. The applications file size is 887.8 KB, plus the 45 sound files it installed.The initial setup will ask you to choose the country you wish to view, language, audio language and unit of measurement. The main menu has four sections available to you: Search & Navigate, Map, Tools and Tips & Ads.
Search & Navigate
This section has a lot to offer in regards to search options. The Address Search option lets you look up, well, addresses of course. This option is limited, as only a small number of cities can be used in the search. For example, in British Columbia, Canada, I would only choose the city of Vancouver. I’m hoping their search options will expand in the future. If amaze GPS does successfully find an address, you can navigate to the location, view in on a map, view the weather forecast for the area, add to favourites, calculate a route (as either a destination or a starting point) . This section also lets you search by keyword. If you know the name of the place and the city, amAze can search and present you with the results. You can also perform a local search, view white pages and view driving directions.
The Tools section includes the amAze shop, where you can purchase a license for the application. You can also edit your regional settings (the same settings you had to modify when you first opened the application), Route Settings (faster route, vehicle type, allow toll roads, etc), and General Settings. The GPS Detail feature offers easy to read information on your position, such as; speed, altitude, longitude and latitude. There’s also a help section available if you are confused about any part of amAze.
This is the bread and butter of amAze. The magic, the beauty, the…well you get the idea. Depending if you have access to a GPS signal or not, the map will display either your current, or last recorded location. When using the map, amAze GPS offers four different map views/types to choose from; street view, hybrid view, topographic view, satellite view and the speed traps radar screen. The radar screen will display the distance from the speed traps or cameras. Again, the availability of these views are limited, as topographic views are only offered in the United States. To access the map views, you need to click on the green button found at the bottom of the screen. Besides the map view/types, the magic green button also allows you to change the maps mode. You can stick with north always facing up, or you can keep your eye on the prize with the Head Up or 3D modes. The map will mark out important points, such as; gas stations, landmarks, police stations and so on.
A selection of scaling options are also provided in order to make navigation easier. These range from a global scale (over 2000 km) to as close as 80m. The camera feature allows you to snitch on *ahem* report on red light cameras and speed traps. You have only two directions to choose from; your direction and the opposite direction. If there was a false alarm and the officer with a radar gun was really Colonel Sanders, you can delete the report. You will be notified by a voice alert of any nearby alerts. While navigating the map, you will notice the current weather conditions and wind direction have appeared in the top right corner. You can also view your coordinates on the map or even jump to a specific location by entering in its coordinates.
Once you select your starting point as, well, your starting point, it will be marked with a green flag. Your destination is marked with a checkered flag, just don’t speed. Your favourite locations are marked with a gold pin with a star on it. Your search results are also marked with pins, this time they are numbered. What I liked about amAze was that the user had the ability to send location details via SMS. During navigation, the voice commands were quite clear and gave me ample time to properly maneuver. Keep in mind that if you are looking to use amAze for its full functionality, it`s going to cost you. There is a free version available, but the functions are quite limited. Be sure to check out this link to see what version is right for you.
I did enjoy using amAze for its range of options. I would highly recommend setting up your route before you are driving for two reasons:
1. It’s probably illegal to use a handheld where you live while driving.
2. It’s a little difficult to navigate the menu by yourself as you keep your eyes on the road.
So either do so ahead of time, or hire a co-pilot. I am hoping to see more Cities supported, in both searches and navigation. It should be noted that if you decide to go for the free version, you will be bugged again and again to upgrade. If you want to check out the premium version, it's available for an annual price of $33.99 (approx $2.83/month). For more information on amAze GPS, check out their website.
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