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April 17th, 2013
Developers Must Innovate for Map App-Happy Aussies

“In Australia, there are 17.4 million mobiles with internet access and we can be sure most are utilising apps – with many also drawing on location services,” Ms Barker said.

“Chief among demands from Australia’s smartphone users is location-aware map apps, which deliver increasingly complex information in an ultra-user-friendly format.

“Static applications are no-longer enough – users expect their apps to be smart and pick up on where they are in the world, so the experience is tailored and adds value to their activities.

“For example, a high-profile online real estate site has reported a 119 per cent increase in app downloads from Brisbane buyers from August to February.

“This is largely due to their in-app directions function and other bundled locator tools that consumers are flocking to.

“In another sign location-based smartphone apps are on the rise, a recent survey of 150 Councils found almost half planned to deploy mapping technology via smartphones over the next two years.

“Location technologies are no longer a niche – they’ve gone mainstream – and digital mapping developers must constantly innovate to keep pace.”

Ms Barker delivered her insights at the Surveying & Spatial Sciences Conference (SSSC) in Canberra today, which brought together around 400 of the nation’s spatial professionals.

She said recent advances in smartphone app technology were making the modern cartographer’s job easier.

“Users need apps that work across any device, whether that’s a smartphone, tablet or laptop – and any format, be that Android, Apple or even open source,” Ms Barker said.

“Traditionally, this has caused major headaches for spatial developers as it could be a very time intensive exercise to ensure apps could translate, regardless of the platform.

“But recent developments such as responsive layout technology – which automatically adjusts an app’s interface to suit any screen shape or size – are making sure we can more easily meet these expectations and connect with users no matter what device they use.

“The exciting thing about these new developments is that, while the technology and functionality behind the scenes may be highly complex, the simple interface at the front-end lets any user hit the ground running and start using these apps straight away.”