Review: Liven up your vacation memories with free Animaps

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Animaps

    PCWorld Rating

    Animaps lets you make maps more interactive and fun, using the power of Google Maps.

Maps are fascinating. They can show past trips that we treasure in our mind or they can show future trips that are in our dreams. Until the advent of the Internet, we had to make do with paper maps but with the Internet, Google Maps was introduced, and along with it, a whole host of interactive possibilities. Free web app Animaps takes Google Maps to the next level.

Animaps start route
Start your interactive journey by planting a marker on the map, typing a note, and clicking "Animate Me!"

Google Maps itself allows you to mark routes on your own specially designed maps, but they don't offer the animation side of it. You can't add movable icons, nor will it "travel" through the various places for you. It just highlights the roads and gives you a list of directions. That's it.

What makes Animaps special and different is that you can mark various points on the map, join them up to form a route, and then play the route back for anyone who wants to watch. The markers you've laid out on the map will move along the route, according to the time frame you have specified, and you can even have photographs pop up at specific locations.

Animaps follow route
After clicking the map for all the locations you've visited, specify how long the trip took.

What's even more fun is that you can use icons of various modes of transportation—boat, plane, ship, car, train—and have them move along the route, changing at various locations. If you, took the train part of the way on your trip, then a rental car for the next stage, then a plane the rest of the way, you can show each of these on the map.  It's really quite fun to set up and watch.

Animaps has the usual Facebook account login, which means that you can show your maps to your Facebook friends (or at least link to them). You can also embed your maps into your website and/or blog.

Animaps start route
When your journey begins, your pictures pop up as the marker passes through the location.

One nitpicky thing about Animaps: This is not something that can be done in a short space of time. If you want to make a proper map, it's going to take you a while. It took me about two hours to get my test map of a fictitious trip around Bavaria working properly, and that isn't really much of a map. But done correctly, it's worth it. The final result can look really impressive.

Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can use the latest version of this Web-based software.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Animaps lets you make maps more interactive and fun, using the power of Google Maps.

    Pros

    • Video tutorials on the site show you everything you have to do
    • Add pop-up photos and notes at different locations

    Cons

    • Building an animated map can be time-consuming
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