Once the stuff of fiction in movies such as Blade Runner and Total Recall, satellite navigation is now very much a real solution for finding your way around. What’s more, these days you don’t even need to pay to get sat nav, thanks to the range of free mapping and directions programs for mobile phone platforms.
Many new phones nowadays come with a built-in GPS receiver, meaning they can track your location anywhere on our planet. Don’t be fooled into purchasing maps and route planners though, because there are a number of free solutions you can run that are just as good. Nokia Maps represents a very useful route-finder, allowing you to get from street-to-street and city-to-city through a very clear map interface. It includes a database of 15 million different tourist spots, so it’s great for taking you to the best places when you’re in a new city. Likewise, GPSMap II is great for Symbian phone users as it lets you display your current location on a map and find your way to another point.
If you’re using a Pocket PC then grab hold of PocketGPS-Map. The free program lets you view calibrated moving maps on your PDA, supporting your GPS receiver to retrieve your position and display it on the map. FindYou is another useful Windows Mobile sat nav-style app. This one also lets you see where you are in the World, by sending your GPS position to a server at regular intervals and displaying the information on a map, which you can use to track your route.
Even if you don’t have GPS installed on your phone, there are applications that harness other technologies to help you find your way around based on your current position. A good example of this is Google Earth on the iPhone, which has a ‘My Location’ feature that detects where you are and shows you this on a satellite image map. Navizon does a similar thing on Pocket PCs, triangulating signals broadcasted from WiFi access points to pick up your current position. If all this sounds like it’s making life a bit too easy, then download Compass to your phone and rediscover the adventurous way of finding your way around.