MapmyIndia has joined Singapore-based ShowNearby to bring you Android, BlackBerry and iOS apps that allow you to find points of interest in your neighbourhood. If you live in India or are touring there, this free app will guide you to the nearest petrol station or restaurant should you find yourself looking for one.
Aside from the ugly icon, the app has a rather decent design and is packed with features. It will figure out your location using the onboard GPS and then bring up a list of 16 categories. Whether you are looking for coffee shops or chemists, shopping malls or hotels, the app should have a category for you. It will even allow you to search for specific places if you cannot decide on a category.
Tapping on a category will bring up the list of businesses and places in your vicinity that fall within it, sorted by their distance from you. You can then select a place to bring up its address and phone numbers. It also allows you to mark the place as a favourite (to make it easier to get to later), use MapmyIndia’s maps to get driving directions or share it via email or text message. You can also send corrections to the MapmyIndia folks if you find some errors in its database.
If you’d rather not have the app find places in your immediate vicinity, you can have the app look for places near a location that you set. It also allows you to rearrange the list of categories, manage your favourites and change the accuracy level of its location determination, so that it uses less battery life when doing so.
As slick as it all sounds, the app has a major drawback: it does not work particularly well for smaller cities and villages in India. Although MapmyIndia has a well-rounded database for the larger cities in the country, it takes a sharp dive as you move on to the smaller ones. The city used during our testing was Siliguri in West Bengal, which has a population of over half a million people, and yet its points of interest were severely underrepresented in the app.
MapmyIndia ShowNearby would have benefited from a integration of places databases from other sources, specially Google’s. MapmyIndia’s other partner for mobile navigation apps, Sygic, recently integrated the Google Places database in its GPS Navigation app for the iPhone and has made it much more useful as a result.
Given that MapmyIndia ShowNearby is a free app and is available on three of the most major mobile platforms, there is nothing stopping you from downloading it and giving it a try. If it works well for the city you are in, or are travelling to, it can be a very handy utility to have around.