Social Media GPS Mapping Games
Do you have a boring commute? Want to kill some time in the car to entertain the kids? Looking for interesting back roads in your city? If so, here are a few applications I’ve tried to spice up the same old drive around town.
Company line is “Real-time maps and traffic information based on the wisdom of the crowd.” My line would be: “Pac Man in your car.” Waze looks like a traditional GPS application but using the Drive To option for turn-by-turn directions is asking for trouble because the routes it selects are clearly not optimal. It claims that it learns quickly but in my experience, I’ve been using it every day for a month to go to work and it hasn’t learned a better route yet. So why use Waze? If you zoom in on the map, you’ll see roads with little dots on them. These roads are ones that you can drive on and earn points, kind of like in Pac Man. Your selected car will start “road munching” and you will accumulate points which can get you ranked on the Waze leaderboard. Zoom out a bit more, and you’ll see blue snowflakes and red-white candy canes. These icons are areas you will get bonus points for driving over. I’ve found myself going out of my way on backroads “road munching” for dots, snowflakes, and candy canes. It’s a really fun way to learn about roads in your area. You can also report traffic, road hazards, and police in the area. And since the app is GPS-based and tracks your speed, it can calculate automatically when they are bottlenecks on certain roadways. It also reports conditions to other Wazers on the road who are near you. Very cool. The only issues I’ve had are some of the areas are inaccessible because they are in gated communities. You can also go to the Waze website and edit the maps manually while adding landmarks. The idea behind Waze is crowdsourced mapping. The company believes they people who drive the roads every day are the ones with the best information about current road conditions. As with most social applications, the more people who use it, the better it is. Hopefully, Waze will catch on and be useful to many drivers.
MINI Link (free)
If you have a MINI Cooper, this is an interesting app to connect with other MINI drivers. You enter your MINI vehicle identification and then customize your car any way you want. You even add your own customized greeting. After than, you start driving and you will see your customized MINI on the map. When you see other MINI drivers using the app, your greeting will automatically be sent to the other driver. Along the way, you might see icons on the map. These are places that other MINI drivers have added for places to eat, drink, shop, drive, etc. You can also add events for other people to meet up. Finally, you can add icons as you are driving like power pellets, cheap gas, traffic, or donuts. Power pellets turn your MINI into a car with wings and donuts are places where you should probably slow down 😀 Overall, this is a neat little app that does a good job in bringing together the MINI community.
Traveler’s Quest ($3.99)
If you enjoy virtual treasure hunting, this app is for you. The first thing you do is get treasure maps for areas of your city. You then use your treasure detector to locate treasure other people have buried. Drive near the location and claim the treasure. The closer you are to the treasure, the more bonus gold you will receive. When you collect a treasure, you boost your score and fill your treasure room. You can either continue to fill your treasure room, sell the treasure, or bury it. When you bury a treasure, other people can find it but the longer it stays buried, the more gold you receive. You also receive gold when someone buys a map to your treasure. Burying treasure a long way from where you found it gives you even more gold. You can also go to the store for your city and purchase other maps and upgrades to your treasure detector. $3.99 is a bit steep for this app but it’s an enjoyable diversion if you have the time.