Wondering Out Loud: How Should Consumer Indoor GPS Apps Look & Work?

A group of friends and I were in Bellevue Square the other day. A number of us have been in the mall many times. However, we don’t know the location of a specific store that one member of the group wanted to find. This, I thought, would be a good chance to try the innovative and free Point Inside app for the iPhone that provides indoor location information for a number of shopping malls and airports.

Point Inside

The app crashed once or twice but ran long enough to try to search for the store. The problem is that the iPhone 4’s screen, and this is true for all smartphones, is too small to see and use the provided mall map in an intuitive and meaningful way. This is not an idictment of the Point Inside app. The conventional map view for indoor venues makes sense on a sheet of paper or, perhaps, a mobile device about the size of a sheet of notebook paper like an iPad. However, it does not work well on a smaller display. The screen shot above is roughly the physical size of the iPhone 4’s screen on a MacBook Air 11.7 display. It will be larger or smaller than the actual device depending on the display used for viewing and its resolution.

End result? It was faster to simply look around in the real world than using the app.