MapQuest was the default online mapping service. Even today, after a number of changes to its site, MapQuest is still one of the most popular places to get maps and directions online, even though other services like Google Maps or Microsoft's Bing Maps (formerly known as Live Maps) offer more features.Not too long ago, for most of us,
Today, MapQuest released its first iPhone app, MapQuest 4 Mobile (iTunes link), and after testing it for a while, it quickly became clear that MapQuest's app is a worthy challenger for the iPhone's built-in mapping application, which is based on Google Maps.
BlackBerry users already had access to a similar app on their devices since last year, but thanks to the iPhone's multi-touch screen, this new app should be a lot easier to navigate.
Directions and Local Businesses
Just like the MapQuest web site, the iPhone app focuses on finding local businesses and directions. One of the nicest features of the app is that you can save your maps and routes on the MapQuest.com web site and then retrieve them on your phone. Finding local businesses is also very easy thanks to a carousel with different types of businesses that sits at the bottom of the map. You can just click on the gas station icon, for example, and the map will highlight all the local service stations in the area.
With regards to giving directions, MapQuest 4 Mobile offers a number of very useful features, including the ability to add multiple stops. You can also easily email links to maps and directions directly from the phone. Of course, the app is not a full-blown GPS application like the forthcoming Tom Tom for iPhone, but when you hold the phone in landscape mode, the app will bring up a nice oversized display with the next turn that is very easy to read (though you should probably let your passengers handle the app while you're driving anyway).
Plans for iPhone 3.0?
It will be interesting to see how and if MapQuest will make use of the new features in the upcoming iPhone 3.0 release. After all, these will include push notifications and the ability to provide turn-by-turn directions (MapQuest's BlackBerry app already offers this as a subscription service through AT&T). We have already heard from some companies that plan to use push notifications to send out alerts based on a user's location, and apps like MapQuest 4 Mobile and its competitors could definitely benefit from these new features in iPhone 3.0.