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Navigation app “what3words” in test

Landing somewhere with pinpoint accuracy is sometimes a tricky thing. For really extra-precise location information, the app “what3words” has divided the world into 3×3 meter squares and assigned each one a specific word. It sounds weird, but it works pretty well.

“Come meet me in”. It’s a strange-looking sentence – but anyone who enters this combination of words into the app what3words is thus navigated to a green meadow in Schöntal Park in Aschaffenburg. And if someone else is already basking in “manchen.leiser.blumen”? “seins.pfanne-reiter” is only three meters away and still has room for the picnic blanket.

The three-word combinations sound absurd, but they form a rather sophisticated system for very precise location information. The creators behind what3words have divided the world into 3-by-3-meter squares, and each of them has a unique three-word address.

“what3words” is handy for the stadium and the beach.

In many cases, this is pretty handy. For example, in large, cluttered places like parks, soccer stadiums and shopping malls, or even on a wide beach. This is because each location can be pinpointed to within three meters.

The three-word addresses can also be used to describe individual stairways in larger buildings, for example. In case of doubt, this is even more accurate than locations sent via messaging apps. The location descriptions are fixed and do not change even if streets or houses are rebuilt.

The test of atechbook also shows this. In our publishing building, there are two entrances facing each other. In the past, this often led to confusion among guests. This is exactly where accurate location is a big advantage.

what3words App
The view at “what3words” Photo: atechbook

The system is not quite perfect, however, because even small spelling mistakes could cause confusion. “manche.leiser.blumen” is the meadow in Aschaffenburg – “manche.leiser.blumen” with one N less, on the other hand, is a tree in the pine forest near Zehdenick (Brandenburg).

Does the whats3words app cost anything?

For private users, what3words is free, only companies have to pay a small fee if they want to convert the what3words address into GPS coordinates. In addition to delivery and driving services, emergency services also use the navigation service to quickly find emergency callers or locations. Especially when communicating about exact locations, the use of three different words helps to avoid misunderstandings and facilitates coordination.

Also interesting: This is the story behind Google Maps

What is the advantage of what3words over Google Maps?

The app for Android and iOS lets you search for places using keyboard or voice input or text recognition. What3words also works via website . The determined addresses can be sent via message, forwarded or exported to other navigation apps.

The advantage of what3words is the clear and precise location information, because not every place has a street address with a house number. The location information with three words is easier to use via smartphone or voice control than GPS coordinates with longitude and latitude. Google Maps, on the other hand, is advantageous as a mapping and navigation tool when planning routes using various means of transportation. The navigation function of Google Maps is therefore integrated into the what3words app and can be called up via the directions function to get to a three-word address.

With material from dpa