Navigation app “what3words” in test

Landing somewhere with pinpoint accuracy is sometimes a tricky business. For really extra-precise location information, the what3words app uses three combined words. That sounds strange, but it works pretty well.

“Let’s meet in some.quiet.flowers”. That’s a strange-looking sentence – but anyone who enters this combination of words into the app what3words will be navigated to a beautiful green meadow in Aschaffenburg’s Schöntal Park.

And if someone else is already basking in “some.quieter.flowers”? “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 practical for the stadium and the beach

In many cases, that’s pretty handy. For example, in large, cluttered places like parks, soccer stadiums and shopping malls, or even on a wide beach. Because every location can be pinpointed to within three meters.

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

That’s also what the atechbook test shows. In our publishing building, there are two opposite entrances. In the past, this often led to confusion among guests. This is exactly where the exact location is a big advantage.

what3words app
The view at “what3words Photo: atechbook

However, the free system is not quite perfect, because even small spelling mistakes could cause confusion. “some.quieter.flowers” is the meadow in Aschaffenburg – “some.quieter.flowers” with one N less, on the other hand, is a tree in the pine forest near Zehdenick (Brandenburg).

Also interesting: This is the story behind Google Maps

Usable on all systems

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

With material from dpa