Earlier this summer I wrote an article on ClintonFitch.com that gave a list of apps and tips for those who travel from one – me – who travels frequently.  Indeed I usually introduce myself in business meetings with my name, title and something along the lines of “I’m based in Dallas but it is usually easier to find me on American Airlines you-pick-the-number”.  If you didn’t get a chance to read that article you can do so here.

One of the apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPad that I mentioned in that article was from Point Inside.  The full name of the app is Point Inside for Airport & Malls and as the name suggest, it provides detailed information on hundreds of airports worldwide and a massive number of shopping centers throughout the world.  When I wrote the original article I had been using Point Inside for about a month and had really grown to like it and depend on it.  By last count I have been in 37 different airports this year and every one of those were in Point Inside.  With a glance on my iPhone or iPad I could quickly determine where the nearest restroom was located, where the Admirals Club was located or, of often great importance, where the closest Starbucks was to me. :-)  It is an app that I have grown more dependent on each day and really could be a cornerstone app for travelers and for shoppers alike.

The installs for Point Inside for iPhone and iPad are separate so you will need to download both versions from the App Store.  The good news is that both versions are free so it isn’t much of an issue.  The install for either version is less than 1MB in size and this is one of the real beauties of Point Inside.  Instead of creating a massive, space consuming app, Point Inside set up their app to only download content when you are looking for it.  All the initial install does is provide the UI and the list of locations that are available.  It leverages your WiFi or 3G connection to download content (more on that below) and leverages the Maps apps on your iPhone or iPad to show you the location of airport or mall you are looking to see.  Personally I find this approach brilliant as it allows me to control what I have on my iPhone or iPad and doesn’t take up much storage on them.

When you start Point Inside it will prompt you to use the Locator service so it can pinpoint your location.  Once it does this it will present a map with all of the locations near you that Point Inside has information available.  You will see an airplane floating icon for airports while shopping locations will be represented by a shopping bag icon.  Tap the icon and it will give you the name of that airport or mall which you can then tap the forward button and it will begin downloading that location to your iPhone or iPad.

Figure 1 - Map and Icons in Point Inside on iPhone

Figure 1 - Map and Icons in Point Inside on iPhone

O'Hare Airport Name Highlighted in Point Inside for iPad (Click to Enlarge)

O'Hare Airport Name Highlighted in Point Inside for iPad (Click to Enlarge)

Downloading Location Content to my iPad in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Downloading Location Content to my iPad in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Once the content of the location you have selected is downloaded to your iPhone or iPad you are immediately zoomed into that location.  If you are viewing an airport you can tap a terminal or concourse and zoom into it.

Overview of Terminal 3 at O'Hare in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Overview of Terminal 3 at O'Hare in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Concourse H at O'Hare in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Concourse H at O'Hare in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Charles de Gaulle Airport in Point Inside for iPhone

Charles de Gaulle Airport in Point Inside for iPhone

As you search through a particular concourse you can tap a restaurant or store and get hours for that store and the phone number for it.  I have found that in most airports the stores do not have their phone numbers listed while in shopping malls they almost always have a number listed.

McDonald's highlighted in Concourse H of O'Hare in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

McDonald's highlighted in Concourse H of O'Hare in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Store Hours and Phone Information for a store in Point Inside

Store Hours and Phone Information for a store in Point Inside

Note that if you are using Point Inside on your iPhone and you tap the phone number of the store it will prompt you if you want to call that store and place the call for you.

If there are two things that you are always looking for in an airport – beyond Starbucks :-) – it is the restrooms and ATMs.  These are critical to find quickly, especially if you are making your way between flights.  In Point Inside they have made this easy.  As you look at a concourse or terminal map you will note a small pin icon on the toolbar where the name of the location you are viewing is located.  Tapping that will bring up a small menu bar with a restaurant, restroom and ATM icon.  Tap one and all of the one you have selected will be highlighted on the map.  You can display all of them or just one depending on what you need.

Pin menu to find restaurants, restrooms and ATMs in a location in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Pin menu to find restaurants, restrooms and ATMs in a location in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Restrooms and ATMs highlighted at DFW Terminal C in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Restrooms and ATMs highlighted at DFW Terminal C in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

The ability to find restrooms and ATMs in a location with Point Inside really sets it apart from other map apps that are available – not just on iPhone or iPad but on any platform.  These seemingly basic needs mystify other applications which frankly I’ve never fully understood.  It is clear that the team at Point Inside has paid attention to detail and this small but important feature is a big deal.

So far I’ve focused mainly on airports but as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Point Inside also has hundreds of shopping locations available to view within the app.  It works just like it does for airports so there is no real learning curve.  Just select the mall you are visiting, let Point Inside download the information for that mall, then you can search through the mall for the store you are wanting to visit.  If the mall has multiple floors, that is no problem.  At the bottom of the display are an up and down arrow that will take you to the various floors of the mall.  This is also on the airport maps as well when it is applicable (see the image above of DFW Terminal C – note the arrows at the bottom of the display of the map).

NorthPark Center in Dallas displayed in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

NorthPark Center in Dallas displayed in Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Whether viewing a mall or an airport, you can do a search for places, events, promotions and services in that location.  To get to the search function, tap the Search button at the bottom of the Point Inside display which will take you to the search page.  From here you can search for stores or press the tabs at the top to see events, promotions and services at that location and search within them.  Services, for example, is a great way to find escalators or elevators in a location. Once you search for the store you are looking for, it is highlighted on the map and you can get store hours or other information on that store.

Search function inside of Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Search function inside of Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Louis Vuitton store located in NorthPark Center using Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

Louis Vuitton store located in NorthPark Center using Point Inside (Click to Enlarge)

The latest update of Point Inside for iPhone also includes the ability to create and share wish lists as you shop.  Included in the app is a barcode scanner.  Simply select the store you are in at the mall then scan the barcode of the item you want to add to your list.  Once it is identified, you can populate information about the product and send that to friends via Facebook.  This is a great way to let your family and friends know what you are wanting this holiday season.

As you can see, Point Inside provides a wealth of information for travelers and shoppers.  Having such a rich application at hand makes both easier and eliminates guess work for you along the way.  If having hundreds of locations at your fingertips wasn’t enough, the way this application is designed – lightweight and only downloading what you need – also makes it device friendly.

Now you don’t have to take my word for it.  Continental Airlines has recently implemented Point Inside within their iPhone app.  Now if you are using their app and need to view an airport map, a Point Inside map is displayed.

Boston Logan Airport Displayed in the Continental Airlines app for iPhone powered by Point Inside

Boston Logan Airport Displayed in the Continental Airlines app for iPhone powered by Point Inside

Point Inside is a free app for either iPhone or iPad and is also available for Android devices.  The app is free in the App Store although there are two different installers for either iPad or iPhone.

Point Inside for iPad – Point Inside Maps for Airports & Malls – iPad Edition.

Point Inside for iPhone – Point Inside Maps for Airports & Malls

Clinton Fitch

Clinton is the editor of AlliOSNews.com. He has been writing opinions, reviews, how to's and anything related to the mobile communications market since 1999. You can follow Clinton on Twitter @AlliOSNews

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