There was a time when we had to rely on asking people around to locate restaurants, shopping centers etc when we were out . Then came the era of GPS-assisted map apps and that is now pretty much the de facto way of locating anything, especially in big cities. And most of the time, it seems to work. But that doesn’t mean it cannot be improved, no?
Nokia is trying to do this and has started using the augmented reality technology to show you what’s around you with the help of your camera viewfinder.
It is all plugged in to an application called Nokia City Lens, an amazing tool I must say. Today we will understand the details and see how to get going with it on Nokia Lumia 920. The tool should show similar features and performance on other Nokia devices that support it.
The application sits on the Start Screen as a factory setting. You will also find it in the apps list.
When you launch the app you would see various categories to select from nearby, like food, hotels, shopping, famous, fun, sights, transport. Such categorization certainly makes the task easy to begin with.
In order to explore things you will need to have your location tracking turned on. So, navigate to app settings and do that.
When you are looking for a place nearby, choose the desired category. Say for example, you are looking for a restaurant, go to food.
The camera viewfinder will be switched on and display the backdrop using your camera lens. So, the details you see on top actually act as an overlay of sign boards to help you navigate in real-time and not on virtual maps.
To make that more clear we have shown an image (the last of the three above) by covering the camera lens. You can see and feel the difference. Though the directions and compass are still there you feel that the feature is disabled. Some more pictures later will make more sense of it.
If you see a lot of clutter around an area you can simply tap on the + sign to expand the suggestions. That helps, right?
Besides, you can turn your phone 90 degrees from the landscape view to get hold of the list of places rather than browsing them on lens. The directions will still be there.
If you know of a place by name but looking for directions then you should use the search option. On the main screen tap the search icon and look for your place.
Getting Directions and More
If you have found the place of interest and would like to get the details about it, tap on it. On the next screen you will see about. And, as you flick left you will have more of photos and reviews.
Click on get directions to get an on map overview of the route from your current location to the destination.
Last but not the least you can share the location details with friends, tag it as a favorite or pin it on the Start Screen as a live tile. That way you will be notified on the tile whenever you are near that place.
Firstly, it is important to know the cost associated with using the app. It is a free service form Nokia. However, it requires to keep track of your location and if you choose to download any content, it may cause transfer of large amounts of data.
A good way to save some dollars is to have Nokia maps download on to your phone when you are home.
Before we conclude we would like to show you a video that shows Nokia City Lens in action. Sit back and get an insight of the tool in action.
Any comments? Are you going to use it? Or do you have better alternatives?