Well, I finaly got my hands on a N900 (given as a Christmas gift by Collabora to Gabriel). This gave me the occasion to observe first hand that the Ovi Maps, while having a lot of features, is slow and that the Hildon Emerillon port is less than perfect. It is hard to use with fingers and feels alien to the platform.
To solve this, I created Map Buddy: a map application specifically designed for Maemo 5. It is quite simple to use and works out of the box (no configuration or selection of plug-ins required!). It also has something other apps don’t: it uses web-services to provide business search capabilities.
Here’s the use case I built Map Buddy upon: you just arrived in Montréal and want to find a sushi restaurant.
- You start Map Buddy, it will be centred on the place you closed Map Buddy on. You can click on the “Center on me” icon on the bottom left, and it will centre the map on Montréal ‒ remember you are in Montréal for this example! By the way, your position is marked by a blue dot. Later version will display the precision too.
- To search for businesses, you have to switch in business search mode, tap on the magnifying glass to do so.
- Enter sushi in the search bar and press enter! The map will be populated with markers representing the places tagged with sushi (powered by Praized Media, a Montréal start-up).
- To get the name of the place, tap once on the marker.
- To get the complete details about a place, tap once on the name: a new window will be opened with the business’ address, phone number and web site if available. Map Buddy even provides a call button!
- To clear the search results, tap on the trash can in the search bar or do a new search.
It’s that simple!
Map Buddy includes a place search so that if you are looking for Pizza in New York, you don’t have to scroll from San Francisco to New York to get there. Select the Place search mode, enter New York in the search field and press enter. A picker dialog will be opened to let you select the correct New York.
To switch to other maps, click on the layer icon, it will bring up the list of possible maps to display.
I hope you like it! Try it today! WARNING: Installing Map Buddy in this early stage requires adding the extras-devel repository which might install unstable software on your device. Try it at your own risk or if you are a professional
NB: Praized Media only has strong data sets for Canada and United States. They plan to sign business partnerships to get data for Europe in 2010. In the mean time, you can directly add businesses using this form.
NB: Help is appreciated to translate it!