Pinpoint your location with Point Inside

Available free for the iPhone and Android, Point Inside offers maps of airports and shopping malls around the country. Find what you need and find your location.

First, pick a location from the main map. Screenshot by Kent German/CNET

I'm a big fan of mapping apps, particularly if they involve airports. Though I've covered them in the past , I didn't find one I really liked until I downloaded Point Inside, which is available free for the iPhone, iPad, and Android handsets running OS 1.6 or above.

As it covers both airports and shopping malls nationwide, Point Inside can be useful for frequent travelers and shopaholics. The maps aren't cribbed from Web sites, but are designed by Point Inside. That's a good thing, since all the maps that I viewed, from San Francisco International Airport to the mall of my teenage years in Arcadia, Calif., were clean and easy to read.

The initial interface, which is laid over Google Maps, features small icons--shopping bags for malls and airplanes for airports--to show the locations covered. Tap an icon and you'll see the name and address of that particular location. Then, you can either move on or click the arrow for a closer look.

To save memory, individual maps aren't stored locally on the handset until you decide to check them out. If you do zoom in, the map will download to your phone so you can to see it again while using airplane mode (useful for finding a connecting flight's gate) and when you're beyond the range of Wi-Fi or cellular service.

It's an efficient system as long as you remember a couple of points. First off, you'll need to make sure you download needed maps before reaching the nether regions of some malls. Also, you will have to download a map again if Point Inside has made any updates since your last viewing. Point Inside promises to update maps at least quarterly.

Then, find what you need or pinpoint your location. Screenshot by Kent German/CNET

Whether you're in an airport or shopping mall, the map displays everything that you should need. In malls, you can locate shops and restaurants, restrooms, and escalators and stairs. In airports, you'll also see shops and restaurants, plus departure gates, baggage claim carousels, ticketing desks, airline lounges, and related services. With airports, you also can view individual terminals separately.

If you can't find what you need, you also can search by business name or for a particular service. Yet, Point Inside's best feature is built-in geolocation for finding your position in particularly labyrinthine buildings. Currently the app covers 650 malls and 80 airports, with more to come.

If Point Inside cost more than 99 cents, I probably wouldn't download it, but as a free app it's useful and a lot of fun. And it doesn't hurt that it gives me some airport time.

 

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