There are so many apps available in the Google Play store, it’s almost impossible to check them all out. In fact, the app store is so littered that it can even be difficult to find what you’re looking for at times. That being said, there are tons of third party app stores available too. There aren’t many that are like Mapsaurus though because it’s a new kind of app environment. Mapsaurus takes apps and then lays them out in a virtual grid, by comparing their likeness.
What is it and what does it do
With Mapsaurus, you can truly explore a world of apps. It’s funny because that’s the advertising tagline for it. Every app is connected via a tree to similar offerings. When you navigate from one app to nearby apps, more paths open up, allowing you to discover new ones. Mapsaurus has been specifically designed to help you realize some of the most obscure apps out there. In an ecosystem filled with more than 700,000 apps, you’d be surprised at how vital something like this can be.
- Extremely cool mapping system
- Interesting way to look for apps
- Clean and responsive user interface, uses Holo UI
- Complete app details, descriptions and screenshots are available
- Can browse in random, recommended and featured app categories
- Sign in using your Facebook account and view app recommendations from friends and family
- Can scan installed apps and make recommendations on what you currently use
- Optimized for tablets and smartphones
- No advertisements
- Doesn’t actually offer anything new — is just a different way to finding apps
- Some fundamental app details are omitted (size, version, and updated dates)
- What’s new section for apps is missing (aka no update changelog)
- No explanation on why apps are linked (sometimes it’s not so obvious)
- Additional game and apps sections are unnecessary
Mapsaurus is currently in Beta, which means some of the kinks are still being worked out, and new features will be added over time. I’m willing to bet that at some point, the app may change substantially from the version I’m reviewing now. At that time, we may or may not present an updated review.
Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s rather hard to find new apps in the Google Play store. Sure, there are editor picks, featured apps and most popular lists for you to browse regularly, but when you think about it, you’re only ever exposed to what you can immediately see. With Mapsaurus, you can explore a virtual world filled with apps.
It works pretty much like this: you choose one title and then you can navigate through an interface of “algorithmically’ connected apps to discover new things. For example, if you start with Facebook and navigate to something nearby, you’ll find a bunch of similar social media apps.
In the menu, there are several different categories which offer you various browsing opportunities. You can choose between categories like ‘random,’ ‘featured,’ and ‘recommended’. The random category will clearly deliver a random app, whereupon you can explore the surrounding area for something new. The featured category is just like the popular apps area in Google Play except this time around you are exposed to a lot more apps- thanks to the expanding navigation tree. The recommended category is pretty much the same as the editorial picks section in Google Play, they’re essentially pre-screened apps.
The beauty of Mapsaurus is that you’re not just being exposed to a single app at a time, but instead you get to see a vast selection of apps that are all related somehow.
You can connect to your Facebook account to Mapsaurus, in order to see apps recommended by friends and family. You can also browse apps, based on what’s already installed on your device. Mapsaurus scans your app library and lets you explore the virtual world using your own custom list.
Overall, Mapsaurus offers a pretty neat way to discover new apps. The interface is clean and responsive, and I would even say at times it can be quite attractive too.
My real issue with the app is that there are so many third party offerings out there already, Mapsaurus doesn’t actually add anything new to the mix. Exploring apps through the unique map is pretty cool but at the end of the day you’re still browsing through a relatively selective list of apps.
Mapsaurus is especially useful when you’re looking for something in particular. For example, if you’re looking for an RPG game on Android and you know a title you already like, then you can find it using the search function and browse through other games similar to it. If you’re looking for a photo editing app, you can browse through apps that are closely related to one you already know about.
Every app has a set of tabs that tell you more about them. The information is clearly lifted straight from Google Play. The info tabs include screenshots, a brief app description and various details. I did notice that the details section includes some promising information, but it also has important info missing. You can see how many downloads an app has received, and even what age level it’s targeted towards.
Unfortunately, there is no area to determine the size of the app file, version number or to view the update changelog. The latter omission is a problem for me because I always like to see what features are being added in the latest updates. That information can be found in Google Play, but what’s the point of using Mapsaurus if I always have to return to Play?
Conclusion and download link
Mapsaurus is a pretty cool way to browse the Google Play store. The ‘algorithmic’ connectivity map is fun to play around with, but really at this time it’s just a toy. The app doesn’t truly offer anything new to third party app distribution. You still end up browsing through popular apps, trying to find something that better fits what you’re looking for. If you don’t like Google Play, or you just want to experience something different then certainly check out Mapsaurus. Otherwise, there isn’t much here that you can’t find elsewhere.
If you do happen to try Mapsaurus and find that you disagree with me, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Version reviewed: 0.2.19
Requires: 2.2 and up
Download size: 3.2MB