New Delhi: Tired of asking directions from strangers, taking detours and hitting dead ends? Technology comes to your rescue with a mapping application.
MapMyIndia, a provider of digital maps and location-based services, has developed a mapping application called Aura that helps you navigate through cities. Aura provides turn-by-turn voice guidance and panoramic 3D maps and landscapes as you drive.
Though MapMyIndia is a pioneer in navigation technology, the real challenge was to provide mapping services on a mobile phone.
Smooth ride: Rohan Verma, director, MapMyIndia, says the company is trying to make travel across India hassle-free and convenient. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
“There was great demand where roads in India were missing signages, directions and unorganized addressing made it really difficult to navigate and there was apparent need in the market which led to MapMyIndia tapping into that space and really building products which would cater to the needs of the masses,” says Rohan Verma, director, MapMyIndia.
Watch Sundeep Sahni, senior sales manager at MapMyIndia, talk about Aura and its unique features
The biggest roadblock faced while developing the app was the vast terrain of the country. The data and maps have been prepared over the past 15 years and have been constantly updated to incorporate changes.
“Another challenge was coming up with 3D maps and house addresses; we have successfully added these features for 36 cities’ house addresses and 20 cities in full 3D. This is an ongoing process and more cities will be added as newer upgrades are introduced across our different platforms,” adds Verma.
Aura lets a user search for house addresses in 36 cities, over 6.3 million places of interest organized by category, street-level maps for 4,000 cities and the route to any of the 576,000 towns and villages via 1.79 million km of highway and road networks.
The points of interests—that one may find useful on the way to their final destination—are divided across 52 categories such as hospitals, restaurants, petrol pumps, banks and ATMs.
“Our endeavour is to make travel across India hassle-free and convenient. People travelling in India should reach the right place, in the shortest possible time and without compromising on their important needs,” says Verma.
The uniqueness of the app lies in its three features—the 3D maps and landscape, city guides and social ability. The Data Elevation Model that shows the actual terrain of the location comes in handy while looking for landmarks and points of interest. It provides up to 10 metres of accuracy.
City guides provide detailed information about the location so users get a flavour of an area. These contain detailed information of an area such as its history, accessibility, climate and culture. The guides also describe in detail important tourist attractions, entertainment venues, accommodation, nightlife, travel tips, and dining places. This feature is of great importance to travellers who are not only clueless about a city’s layout but also about tourist attractions.
An application is incomplete without in-built social ability that thrives on the users’ need to be always connected with their friends and peers. Aura has a social network feature that allows a user to add friends into a community and send them messages, share each other’s location, view each other on the map live and navigate to each other’s location and stream photographs.
Another important feature includes its capacity to work offline. There are no downloads and data involved. Once installed, the maps will be saved on the phone or the memory cards. This means a user does not require constant Internet connectivity to use the app while on the road. Also, spoken voice instruction and route guidance makes the application easy to use.
“MapMyIndia Aura is equipped with text-to-speech feature and the local language voice guidance will soon be in the upgraded version,” elaborates Verma. Features include lane guidance and signposts, speed limit display, free map updates, quick search and share, a help menu and car audio integration using Bluetooth or cable.
The application is available across platforms—Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian, and Apple Inc.’s iOS. The application can also be used on low processor phones. It is priced at $49.99 for both Android and the iOS platforms.
According to Verma, India’s navigation industry is at the threshold of growth. Indians are open to using navigation services across platforms such as mobile phones, in-car navigation, the Internet and tablets. “We are working closely with leading service providers to make GPS navigation accessible to more and more Indians,” he adds.
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