Navigating maps on computers and mobile devices can still be a clunky experience, especially when you try to search for places on a map. Typically, on Google Maps or Bing Maps, you get a bunch of virtual pushpins for each place which you can click on for more information.
UpNext, a 3D mapping startup based in New York City, brings that information forward in amore fluid way in the latest release of its iPad app. As you push the 3D map around with your fingers, labels for specific searches or your friends’ recent Foursquare checkins pop open as they come into view. UpNext calls this the Fluid Labeling System, and you can see it in action in the video above.
The app, which is also available on the iPhone, now covers eight cities: New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Portland, San Francisco, and Austin. The apps are free, and they’ve been downloaded 170,000 times—not terribly much, but it is a good example of where map apps could be going. It renders each city in full 3D and lets you dive into each building to find the businesses inside.
As far as the Fluid Labeling goes, anything that eliminates an unnecessary tap is good in my book, but this is really just an improvement on the existing map UI that is now commonplace. Is there a better way to display information about places on a map than through pushpins?