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Disney World, Here We Come! Using the Maps App on the Amazon Fire Phone

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The Amazon Fire phone's Maps app does much more than just help you with directions to get where you need to go. Lonzell Watson, author of My Amazon Fire Phone, pinpoints some of the many useful features of this well-equipped app.
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Introduction

Your Amazon Fire phone is equipped with a Maps app that can help you get where you need to go. Maps can supply detailed destination directions for a specified address, or provide directions to an unspecified location by dropping a pin onto any general area on a map. But Maps is more than just, well, maps. We'll explore some of the important features of Maps that make it a really useful application for anyone who's on the go. Now let's get rolling!

Enable Your Phone's GPS Features

Before you can begin to use the many map-related features of your Fire phone that utilize the Global Positioning System (GPS), you must first enable your phone's GPS capabilities. The process is very easy. You can access the GPS through Quick Actions. Slide down the Quick Action menu from the Status bar, and then tap the Settings icon that looks like a gear (see Figure 1).

Tap Locations Services, and then choose Configure Location Based Services for Your Applications (see Figure 2), and then make sure that the Location Services option is set to the ON position (see Figure 3).

Find Locations

Maps is great for planning a trip across town or across the nation. You can change your map view by adding layers that include traffic, terrain, satellite imagery, transit lines, and more. You don't even need an address for Maps to find detailed location information. Just specify the general area on a map, and the Maps app can generate directions on how to get there.

Maps not only gives you the capability to find locations and get directions, but can even supply addresses when you don't know where you are. If you ever find yourself wandering in an unfamiliar place, this feature can help you get oriented. As soon as you launch Maps, your Fire phone uses GPS to pinpoint your current location.

Launch Maps on the Home Carousel or App Grid. In the Home Carousel, you can also tap any of the quick links located beneath the Maps Carousel icon to go straight to one of the popular locations.

When you open Maps for the first time, your Fire phone may ask to let Amazon store your location history to help improve the app and other location services. If you're comfortable with this option, choose Enable. If you're unsure, tap Not Now; you can always enable this option later within the app's settings.

Tap the Locator icon to display your current location. A blue, pulsating pin signifies your current location on the map (see Figure 4).

You can move maps around by dragging the screen. To make the map face a different direction, place two fingers on the screen, and then rotate. A compass icon appears at the bottom of the screen when you're not facing north. To set your map view so the top of the phone faces north, tap the compass icon.

Double-tap to zoom in and out of an area on a map. You can also place two fingers on the screen and pinch outward. Single-tap with two fingers to zoom out of an area on a map, or simply place two fingers on the screen and pinch inward.

Tap in the search field to enter a location that you want to find. You can search in a number of ways; enter an address, intersection, area (such as Lake Buena Vista), landmark (such as Epcot), Zip code, or the name of a business.

As you enter a search term, the search field automatically presents a list of possible locations matching your search. Tap the option that matches your search term (see Figure 5).

When Maps displays your location, you can use your finger to move the map and pinpoint locations. Double-tap in a specific location on the map to enlarge the area. Drag the results overlay up from the bottom of the map to view more information regarding your current location (see Figure 6). The amount of information available depends upon the location (see Figure 7). Tap a hyperlink to visit a website listed in the location information. Simply tap a phone number to place a call. The Share icon enables you to share location details using apps, including Facebook, Email, LinkedIn, Messaging, and Twitter. You also have an option for making notes for the location in the Notes application.

By tapping the Bookmark icon, you can automatically return to the current location at a later time. The Contacts icon enables you to assign the location to one of your contacts. Yelp provides photos for the current location. The number of photos depends upon the location. Tap See All Photos on Yelp to see additional photos, if any.

Scroll up the results overlay to read customer reviews. Tap See All Reviews on Yelp if you want to read all the reviews. At the very bottom of the page you can tap Report a Problem, such as if the pin is in the wrong place, the name or address is incorrect, or other issues. Tap the Directions icon to receive turn-by-turn voice navigation to get to this location. Drag down the results overlay to return to the map.

Get Directions

Maps can help you get from point A to point B by providing detailed directions. You can get step-by-step driving, public transportation, biking, or walking directions to a specified destination by designating addresses for a starting location and a desired destination.

Tap the Directions icon (see Figure 8).

Choose whether you want Driving, Public Transit, or Walking directions (see Figure 9). The Start field automatically fills in your present location, but you can enter a different start location, if desired. As you type, Maps lists possible locations matching what you've typed.

Tap in the End field and enter a destination, and then tap the appropriate auto-filled search result from the list. The route appears in blue on the map. Sometimes the directions show multiple route possibilities.

The possible routes are numbered (see Figure 10). Tap to choose one of the routes generated and change the directions, or simply take the default route, which is Route 1. View the estimated time of travel and distance to the destination at the top of the screen. This area also informs you if there are toll roads along the route.

Your Fire phone utilizes side panels that display contextual menu options depending on which app you are using. You will find many helpful options in both the left and side panels in the Maps app.

Slide from the far left of the screen to the right to access the left panel options. (see Figure 11). The Layers options enable you to switch map views so that you can view a map as a satellite image (by tapping Satellite in the menu), or view an overlay of the traffic conditions on the route you have chosen (by tapping Traffic).

Color-coded traffic information on the Traffic map overlay helps you determine the types of conditions you're likely to encounter on your chosen route. In a nutshell: Green means traffic is traveling relatively smoothly. Yellow indicates moderate congestion on the route. Red or red-and-black warn you that traffic speed is stop-and-go, at best.

With the options located under More, you can report a problem you may have encountered while using Maps, rate the Maps app on a five-star scale, or read the Amazon Maps Terms of Use. Slide the panel to the left to close it.

Each time you generate directions, Maps saves them in the Search History list, located under the right panel options (see Figure 12). Slide to the left from the far right of the screen to access the right panel. To use these bookmarked directions, tap the stored location in the list. Slide the panel to the right to close it.

Tap Start to receive turn-by-turn voice commands to the mapped destination (see Figure 13). Maps continues giving you step-by-step voice commands even if you open another app while navigating, and if your Fire phone auto-locks. Simply tap the screen to pause turn-by-turn navigation. Tap Resume to resume directions. Mute the spoken directions by tapping the speaker icon. The list icon (three horizontal lines) is located next to the speaker icon. Tap the list icon to view the directions as a list. Tap any step in the list to review it on the map.

Indicate Locations

Maps can also help you find locations for which you don't have an address. For example, you might know that a café that you want to visit is located downtown, but you don't know how to get downtown from your hotel. Indicate the vicinity on the map, and Maps generates directions to there from your current location.

Drag within the map to the unspecified location that you want to find. You can also pinch outward using two fingers to zoom into an area on the map to get a closer look. Press and hold your finger on a location on a map, and Maps places a pin there, along with displaying an address. The Dropped Pin field opens at the bottom of the screen (see Figure 14).

After Maps provides the information for the specified area, drag up the Dropped Pin overlay to receive directions, share the location, bookmark the location, email it, or assign the location to a contact. Tap the Directions icon located in the Dropped Pin overlay (see Figure 15). The Start field should already be populated with your current location via your Fire phone's GPS capability. The End field should be populated with the address where you dropped the pin.

Select the type of directions you need. Driving directions are specified by default.

There's No Place Like Home

After you have arrived at your destination, tap the Swap icon to generate directions back to your Start location (see Figure 16). Then tap Get Directions and tap Start to hear turn-by-turn navigation or tap the list icon to view the directions in list format.

It's an App, Not an Oracle

An important note to make here is that the Maps application is not always correct. Some of the directions and navigation data that it presents might be inaccurate or incomplete due to change and time. Complete information might not be available for some locations. Always use your best personal judgment and pay attention to road signs, landmarks, traffic conditions, and closures when following directions generated on your Fire phone.

Summary

The Maps app on the Amazon Fire phone offers an intuitive interface for helping you get where you want to go. With many useful features for showing you around and interesting information you'll want to have once you get there, the Maps app also comes equipped with peeks on pins; restaurant ratings from Yelp; and even a Dynamic Perspective that responds to how you hold, view, and move your phone for more real-life 3D perspective of spaces. For more on Maps and the other great features of the Amazon Fire phone, see My Amazon Fire Phone.

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