Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
Age Rating: 4+
Where To?, Future Tap’s GPS-enabled guide to what’s around you, has been about for a while now, but it’s latest iteration, 3.5 makes some important fixes and improvements, chief among which is the addition of augmented reality.
Leveraging the iPhone’s in-built Maps program, Where To? lets users choose what they’re looking for – shopping centres, restaurants, doctors or candy – then locates the closest vendor around you.
While you could conceivably just do this through Google maps, Where To? encourages a more adventurous approach, listing a number of venues in your immediate area (I, for example, didn’t know we had any Armenian restaurants at all).
Arranged in a circular Simon-Says style circular array, there are 11 buttons that, once pressed, unveil a surprisingly large selection of sub-categories. In ‘Services’ for example, you can locate nearby astrologers as well as watch repairers. All categories can be added to a Favourites panel.
Everything opens within Where To?’s own dedicated browser, including click-through info about your destination which keeps matters simple. The augmented reality function, which uses the iPhone’s camera to overlay locations on your environment, costs another $1.19 to use, but you can trial it free for a month. The augmented reality function works nicely, integrating map-like tags into video of the world around you. Unlike other AR functions we’ve seen, the tags are a sensible size and don’t crowd the viewfinder. We did, however, have some drama getting it going, and Future Tap advised us that you’ve got to be outside with a decent GPS signal for the AR to work.
You do get the feeling, however, that Where To? was probably designed with an overseas audience in mind, as some of the categories just don’t seem to have any businesses in Australia. It’s also not exactly precise; if you’re searching for Canadian food (as we all are) a list of 20 restaurants come up, including the East Brunswick Club Hotel, Universal Italian Restaurant and KFC. I don’t believe any of them are strictly Canadian.
Where To? is a solid app for exploring wherever you happen to be, and would be a wonderful tool whenever you’re travelling. However, a more refined search algorithm to make Where To? more locally specific would be a welcome improvement.
Correction/Clarification: This review previously stated that the augmented reality function wouldn’t follow the viewfinder as it moved, which after advice from Ortwin Gentz from Future Tap that the iPhone needed to be under an open sky, proved to be incorrect.
Gentz also suggested that the company was refining the app to make categories more location-specific.