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Three Days with WHERE
Let’s say you are out of town for a couple of days or maybe you’re unfamiliar with your own city because you really don’t get out much. How are you going to find your way around? Where will you go for lunch? Where can you find the nearest Starbucks for your morning latte? Where can you go see that cheesy new comedy that just hit theaters?
It so happens there are a number of different mobile phone applications designed to solve these issues with just a few clicks. And luckily for me, one was available to me for free on my Motorola Cliq.
Where, is a location-based services application designed for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. Available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, and various other types of mobile phones, think of Where as your own personal local tour guide.
After downloading the Where application on my Android phone, the first thing I noticed was the simple user interface. The app’s home screen has widgets for all the basic necessities of life: local weather, traffic, news, nearby food and movies, and more. Once I had clicked through the application and received a nice little overview of what it had to offer, I decided to put Where to the test over the course of the next few days.
Day 1: Dinner and a Movie
In the mood to catch a flick, I thought a good place to start my trial was with movie listings. A Movies icon instantly showed me which titles were playing nearby. With the app not only did I find a movie, but I was able to read reviews written by other Where users, check show times, browse through screenshots, watch the trailer, even purchase tickets on my phone via movietickets.com.
Just when I was about to purchase tickets for the next show, my stomach started to rumble in hunger. Since my local theater doesn’t make a popcorn container big enough to satisfy my appetite, I decided instead to skip the movie and head for a late lunch. For this I turned to Where’s Yellow Pages widget that helps you find food, drinks, a bank, even a nearby hotel.
The great thing about this feature is it breaks down everything into categories for you. For example, I had a hankering for some Italian food, so with a few clicks I was able to see a listing of all the local restaurants in my area offering Italian cuisine. When I found one to my liking, I was able to use Google Maps directly through the app to get driving directions to the restaurant from my location.
I hopped in my car, ready to go, and then I discovered my next dilemma: My car was almost out of gas. Perfect time to try out my Gas Prices widget on Where. With this, I was able to find the cheapest gas prices near my current location, and I was even able to search by specific gas grade. I noticed an interesting feature here: You can report prices at gas stations listed incorrectly with a click of a button.
Day 2: A Personalized Experience
If you really want to experience all Where has to offer, I suggest creating an account. It’s free, and takes less than five minutes. With a profile you have the ability to do more with the app, such as write and submit your own reviews for places you visit. It also lets you take full advantage of the Placebook feature.
Placebook is basically a filing cabinet full of the destinations you choose. It will collect all of the reviews you post, as well as any destinations you mark as “Favorites” or “Want to Go.” If you happen to be searching Where on your home PC and you save a location, it will automatically show up in your mobile Placebook and vice versa.
As with just about everything under the sun these days, Where integrates with your favorite social-networking sites. You can post your location as your Facebook or Twitter status so you don’t have to call your friends one-by-one and tell them where to meet you for lunch. If you haven’t made enough friends already on Facebook and Twitter, you can chat with other Where members near you or post comments on a “Where Wall” in another city.
I found out that gas isn’t the only thing Where can save you a couple of bucks on. With the app’s Coupons widget, you can receive discounts at local stores. The best part is you don’t waste any paper. You can save the coupon on Where so when it comes time to make the purchase, just present the coupon code at the register.
Day 3: Getting to Work on Time
Traffic is a major issue for me during my daily commute, so I was eager to check out the My Traffic widget. Based on information from Traffic.com, Where can provide details regarding ongoing road construction. I live in the Chicagoland area, which unfortunately has two seasons: winter and construction ... and it’s not currently winter. Every route for getting to work takes me directly through construction, but I can see how this would be helpful to drivers with numerous options looking to avoid roadwork. However, it was helpful in telling me know when there was major construction on the expressway so I could better plan my route to and from work in advance.
I also found another unique eating experience through the Where application. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a picky eater, and Where has a widget to accommodate my finicky behavior. With the Where Brands widget, I was able to choose from a decent list of popular fast-food chain locations and restaurants. The widget should also come in handy when I need to go shopping, as I can also browse through retail stores in addition to restaurants.
Now don’t get me wrong, Where definitely isn’t 100% accurate. For the most part I didn’t have any problems, but there were instances when it would misguide me.
One particular incident involved a non-existent pizza place supposedly located down the street from my house. If you think I was confused, you should have heard the lady that answered my call to this phantom pizza parlor at 11 p.m. Wrong number, indeed.
All in all, it was a good few days with the Where app. But could I have done all of this without the Where app? Sure. Would I ever resort to the old way of getting such information (i.e. the phonebook)? I doubt it. —Mike Mara
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