Saturday, August 7, 2010

Is the app worth US$1.99?

Local mapping start-up has finally gotten its own iPhone app, just over a year after the company unveiled the iPhone-friendly version of its website. is available in the App Store for US$1.99. Now US$1.99 is not expensive, but it is certainly US$1.99 more than free, which is how much it would cost if you just went to in mobile Safari.

We asked Gothere co-founder Ang Junhan why the famously tight-fisted Singaporean would pay for something he could get for free. According to Junhan, this is what your US$1.99 gets you:

Richer, larger maps. On the iPhone app, the maps are interactive and filled with information. Tap on the map and it will tell you car park rates, bus services that stop at the bus stop and the current ERP charges at the gantry. On the web app, you have a map showing you where you are. That's it. It's a limited map too. You can only zoom in and out; you can't just scroll up or down, left or right.

Better directions. On the iPhone app, the directions are clear and detailed. In addition, the iPhone app also gives you alternative routes. On the web app, the directions are brief and you only get a single route.

Search for businesses nearby. If you're looking for the nearest Starbucks (because Coffee Bean makes dreadful soy lattes), the iPhone app is your best bet. Just type in Starbucks into the Search box and it will pull up all the Starbucks outlets near you, arranged by distance. The web app just doesn't have this.

Locate Points of Interest by category. Hungry? Looking for a bookshop? Need a back-up battery for your iPhone? The Gothere app has a directory of places that will help you find what you're looking for, whether it is an ATM, a Community Centre, or even a prison.

Cleaner and better interface. The iPhone app is lighting fast and has a great interface that Junhan says was inspired by Tweetie, the app now known as Twitter for iPhone.

And these are just the existing features. New features coming up in version 1.1 are higher resolution maps, optimised for the iPhone 4, the ability to call or send an SMS to book a taxi, and integrated bus arrival times. This update is dues in a few weeks.

According to Junhan, it took the Gothere team nine iterations before they found something they were happy with."Previous versions were too complex. We tried to add a lot of things inside," said Junhan. "We found that being feature rich wasn't key. What was key was to keep things simple."

So is it worth the US$1.99? We think it's worth more. And so does the Gothere team. According to Junhan, US$1.99 is just the introductory price. The price is likely to go up in the near future so snap up it now while it's still a bargain.

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lxcid said...

I bought it and I find it a beautiful app. It's fresh to see a Singapore app that is done with effort. Kudos to them. :)

vikt@r said...

bought it, so far so good, my only gripe, there no quick button to go back to main menu to start a fresh search, everytime i start the app it starts at my last ended search ... gotta hit the back button a few times ... :(