Sometimes when you get in a car, you are struck by the convenience and utility. You just know that the engineer that designed not just is a good engieer but that she/he loves cars and thinks about how they should be used.
Last week, Mapquest showed me the just released MapQuest 4 Mobile for iPhone and it struck me much the same way. While I have not yet used the final release product (available for download at the iTunes Store ) if it lives up to the demo it will rapidly become the mapping tool of choice for iPhone users. You can read about the full details at their blog.
The product offers a full blown mapping and business listing environment that is intuitive and easy to use. It fully integrates with their on-line product so a trip can be created either on line or in the iPhone and be readily available to either device. The interface allows for simple drag and drop reordering of stops on the Maps and an intuitive way to access common points of interest.
The feature that allows either a list view of driving directions or a full screen landscape view is particularly elegant. The enlargement puts one directions and a meaning graphic on the full screen and allows for a simple swipe to get to the next direction.
Unlike their on-line mapping product, the new iPhone tool puts the user experience front and center without the clutter of Mapquest’s many advertising partners taking top billing. They have included these partners in a contextually relevant way that adds to the user experience rather than detracting from it.
Obviously, Mapquest is in a battle for market share with Maps. This iPhone app will certainly be a reason for those already using Mapquest to stick with the service. But will it attract new Mapquest users? And will it bring those users to the website?
This product, even though not the default Map product on the iPhone, is good enough to do it. Certainly as a stand alone iPhone app it will generate buzz. Whether the web integration is enough to draw wayward users back to the Mapquest web fold remains to be seen.