We're all looking for ways for our smart phones to make our lives easier, and gathering relevant information about your surroundings is something they can do well. This week's app helps you locate services and points of interest around you in an easy and unique way.
World Around Me LITE, or WAM for short, is an 'Augmented Reality' app. This confuses many people who haven't a clue what that means. This type of app could have a better description. You could call it a 'Reality assistant', something that helps you by providing additional information about your needs and surroundings. WAM does that.
The free (Lite) version of WAM is ad supported. The familiar small banner ad is at the bottom of your device's screen. It needs your GPS enabled to work, and internet access to gather the information you're looking for. It's tablet friendly, and the information is presented a bit differently than on a phone.
What WAM does, is to display extra information on top of what your phone camera sees. You just start the app and pick one of 14 pre-set categories or enter a specific search item. For example, you've arrived in an unfamiliar town and are looking for somewhere to eat. Tap the Restaurants, or the Cafes category or maybe just search for 'Pizza' for example.
Just point your phone's camera in any direction and pan around. Floating billboards will appear with details of places that meet your requirements. WAM uses your GPS and Google's database to filter the results that are ranked by prominence. If you're in a large city or are on foot, there's a radius setting so you only see results within walking distance, for example.
So, you may ask, why is this different from what I can already do on Google Maps? It's about how the information is presented. When you start WAM, you choose the category of the services you're looking for. Then by moving your camera around, you know which direction to go.
When you tap on one of the floating billboards, you get a details screen with the address information and a call button if there's a phone number available. Depending on your category choice, there may be reviews to read and a website to visit for more information. So, if you find a restaurant, you can read reviews, visit their website to check out the menu and call for a reservation, all in one screen.
The next thing to do is to tap the map button which loads Google Maps with directions to get there. How convenient is that? The ever-present share button is also there for your convenience. It's worth spending a little time with the app at home. You might be surprised what you can find around you, even if you thought you knew your town well.
One downside is the app's color scheme, which may be a trendy choice but is hard to see for some users with visual deficiencies and in some lighting situations. Unfortunately there's no option to change the app theme, text or billboard background colors. The ability to customize those aspects of WAM would be a welcome addition. It can't be described as 'accessibility friendly' as it stands. Using the Android 4.1 and later, the negative colors feature makes matters worse.
Overall though, World Around Me is a handy app to have around if you travel, or simply want to discover new places in your local area. Consider it as your convenient local guide and navigation tool rolled into one intuitive and novel app.
World Around Me (WAM) Lite — Free Mobile App of the Week
Size: 8.6 MB
Size: 10.1 MB
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