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Posted: 1:04 p.m. Monday, March 7, 2011

Free apps direct you around malls, streets

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Editor's note: This segment originally aired in Nov. 2010

I have been absolutely amazed by the power of new smartphones to keep me from getting lost. They're packed out with navigation tools that show me how to get wherever I have to go.

I have an Android phone and use AroundMe to quickly suss out info about my surroundings. This free app can be used to locate gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, parking and much more.

Recently, I was in Yonkers, New York visiting the Consumer Reports headquarters to film a TV segment. My HLN boss and I arrived very early and chose to wait outside in the parking lot...and that's when a free app came in handy!

I decided I wanted a Coke Zero while waiting. My boss protested, saying he didn't think we could find a store anywhere near the headquarters. So I whipped out my phone and used AroundMe to locate a convenience store 1.1 miles away!

FastMall.com is another similar app you may have heard about. This free offline shopping navigation app directs you around malls. If you want to find a particular overpriced store, it will lead you right to it. And if you shake your cell phone, it will even lead you to the nearest bathroom in the mall!

It won't be much longer before there are similar free apps to direct people around huge medical centers, airports, theme parks and convention centers.

The point here isn't the "gee whiz" factor of new technology. It's this: Could the coming technologies create a way for you to offer a service, product or app that might turn into a business for you?

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