Using GPS-Based Apps to Make USA Road Trips Easier
One of the great American traditions is the road trip, and it’s easy to see why given the vast amount of highways and beautiful scenery all across the USA.
Setting off into the relative unknown like great explorers of the past, road trips provide a unique experience.
Going on a road trip with friends can be a great bonding experience, whereas going alone can be a time for introspection and soul-searching.
Several road trip apps have recently been released with the aim of making road trips a little easier by providing you with information about what’s on the way and what’s coming up.
These apps use GPS technology that’s built into your smartphone to determine your positioning and which direction you’re traveling (and therefore what’s coming up along the way).
Roger Yu of USA Today investigates as to why these road trip apps are different from the rest:
“Plenty of popular “help-me-find-spots-near-me” apps exist, but they point to places in front of, behind and left and right of you. The highway apps, on the other hand, are wooing users who literally are looking farther down the road.
Many travelers are familiar with the experience of finding a decent Italian restaurant on Yelp or Urbanspoon, only to find that they just missed the exit to get to the restaurant. There are more than a handful of highway travelers who crave a particular dish (say, tacos), but settle for a nearby McDonald’s burger — only to find a Taco Bell three exits farther along. These highway guide apps exist to solve such problems.”
It’s not all plain sailing, however:
“While the apps mostly worked as they were intended, their shortcomings were quickly obvious. Nearly all entries are shops and restaurants that are part of large national chains, which is fine for some but not for curious and intrepid travelers looking for local favorites. Near an exit at a busy Washington suburb known for many good ethnic restaurants, the apps gave me a tiresome list of only McDonald’s, Denny’s, Fuddruckers and the like.”
Seems like there’s still a few kinks to iron out (which I supposed can be expected with any new wave of technology). Roger continues:
“Their content was limited in other ways. Although RoadNinja claims to show attractions, it missed some key ones — Civil War battlefields and water parks — along the way. IExit and RoadNinja promise coupons and deals, but I didn’t find any in the 30-mile test.”
Of the three major USA-based road trip apps (‘Road Tip’, ‘RoadNinja’ and ‘iExit’), it seems that iExit is the best currently on the market, and at $1.99 it’s certainly worth investing in if you’re driving long distances across the USA (as it’s far more useful than simply relying on sporadic road signs).
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