Walc uses landmarks such as local businesses, rather than compass points, to provide directions for urban explorers.
We’ve seen a few apps that offer tailored navigation through cities, such as this green route mapper, and an app that helps nocturnal users find the most well-lit option. A new app from Walc is aiming to make urban navigation easier for those who struggle with their bearings.
Walc works like navigation assistants on regular mapping apps, except directions are given according to landmarks users can see – instead of having to orient their phone in the direction they hope is North, the app will ask if the user can see a conspicuous business from their current location. For example, users will be directed to go towards the McDonald’s, or turn right at the Walgreens, in a human, conversational way. Walc also contains a PocketMode, where cues can be provided by voiceover, so users can take in the urban sights while they get to their destination. The app is now available on Google Play and the App Store, and in cities such as New York, Savannah, and Bogota, Colombia.
With Apple having already patented similar software for automobile navigation, relying on advice like ‘head North 200 meters’ could become history. Though some may worry about mankind’s diminishing instincts (remember the North Star?), adaptations of conventional systems — especially in rapidly refacing urban centers — is critical for keeping up with the changing attitudes of consumers. How else could urban navigation be made easier?