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AmAze put itself on the map today with the UK launch of a service providing GPS-integrated route planning and directions, as well as satellite imagery and worldwide maps.

It is funded entirely by advertising and sponsorship.

Run by LocatioNet, the service uses a Java application to display maps and photographs on a wide variety of mobile phones, as well as picking up location information from in-built (or Bluetooth-connected) GPS equipment.

Compared to Google Mobile Maps, which is equally free and Java-based, AmAze has much prettier maps - using colour for geographic features, but lacks the universal satellite imagery Google has access to.

AmAze also doesn't yet have the breadth of local services from which you can search, but the integration with GPS equipment, and spoken directions, are killer features for anyone intending to use the application while driving.

LocatioNet president Ofer Tziperman said its intention is to include "everything Google provides, plus a little bit more", with more local services information and even weather information coming soon.

LocatioNet said advertisements will only appear while data is being downloaded, and while the application itself is loading, though it remains to be seen if advertisers are interested enough to make the service profitable.

Right now there are no advertisements, so the service is truly free and worth downloading - even just for comparison purposes. ®

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