Google has finally reincarnated its map offering and is free of charge in Apple's App store for your consumption. The app promises features that the fabled old stock maps didn't offer like voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation. It has been said by AllThingsD that Apple chose to do its own mapping solution because Google wouldn't offer that specific feature for iOS. My initial impression of the app is that it is visually appealing, and we are glad to see that Street View is present, along with public transit info. The most important thing is that the new Google Maps is vector-based, so navigating the map should be buttery smooth. Google reps have admitted that it's even better than maps for Android. Here's the run down of the features in the Google Maps reboot:
Read More | Google Maps for iOS
Buried in Apple's statement on how the iPhone tracks a user's location data, the company admitted it was collecting anonymous location information to create a "crowd-sourced traffic database" that will be part of a future "improved traffic service."
The thing is, there's already a traffic service on the iPhone, provided by Google. If a user launches the Maps app and selects "Show Traffic," the map overlays colors on roads that show traffic congestion. Google gets the traffic data by—surprise!—crowd-sourcing it, aggregating information from Google Maps users who have approved the app for location services on their mobile devices.
Apple's statement reveals that the company is working on its own version of such a service. Whether that service will be something that Apple will use to improve traffic in Google Maps, or if Apple will launch a competing maps app, or something else entirely isn't known. Apple didn't respond to multiple requests for comment on the topic.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be guided to your destination via the dulcet-tones of James Earl Jones breathing through a ventilator? If so, then Tom Tom’s announcement of their release of Star Wars voices for their GPS nav systems should make your day, and if not, then you should probably stop reading this right now because you are dead inside. Beginning this month Tom Tom is making one new Star Wars voice available for purchase through August. Following the first available voice, Darth Vader, June will see the release of C-3P0, July will be Yoda, and finally Han Solo will wrap up what will be remembered as The Summer of GPS Nerdyness. For the sake of entertainment, someone should come up with an R2D2 mod, available in September. I would buy it just so that I could get in witty, one-sided conversations with my car during my long road-trips to comic conventions and film festivals by myself. God, I am so alone…
Need a reason to chuck your Garmin/Tom-Tom, etc. out of your car other than ‘has stupid name and labels me as a poor-driving tourist wherever I go’? Well wait no longer, avid reader: today Alpine announced a strategic partnership with the Finnish cel phone giant, Nokia, to fully integrate smartphones into car infotainment systems. While I was surprised that ‘infotainment’ was actually a word, I was more surprised that this type of alliance hasn’t been made sooner. Not only are these two electronics giants looking to elbow in to the lucrative GPS/Nav market, but they are also bringing a few bells and whistles of their own, namely widgets that can monitor fuel levels and direct you to the nearest and cheapest gas station. Might as well go ahead and chuck that gas gauge now, Chachi, ‘cause you’re not going to need it anymore; welcome to the future, only 48 years after your grandpa thought he’d have a flying car.
Read More | Alpine
The wait for the Motorola Droid to go official is finally over, as Verizon has announced all the details on the drool-worthy handset, highlighted by the fact that the Droid launches exclusively on Verizon Wireless on November 6th (yes, just over a week from now,) and will sell for $200 after mail-in rebate with two-year contract.
We know what many of you are thinking - $200 will get you an iPhone 3GS, so this thing better bring the pain. Well, my friends, it certainly does. The Droid is a top-notch phone, boasting a 3.7-inch 480x854 display, Cortex A8 processor, Bluetooth, GPS, 5-megapixel camera (with dual-LED flash,) slide-out QWERTY keyboard with d-pad. 3G, Wi-Fi, over-the-air Amazon MP3 downloads, and voice-activated search are also present. Included in the box is a 16GB SD card, as well as a dock for the phone. That’s just the hardware. Equally important is the software running on the device, and the Droid is the first handset to feature Android 2.0. That’s a big deal, as no other phone on the horizon seems to be shipping with 2.0. This also means that Droid picks up the new Google Maps Navigation feature, which essentially turns the phone into a fully-functional GPS, using Google Maps, at no extra cost.
We’ll obviously be bringing you more details as we get them, but expect to hear a lot, a lot about this phone over the coming weeks.
Read More | Verizon Wireless
Clever Spain has installed GPS navigation systems in buses that go from the airport to the Lisbon’s center. One is placed in the front and one is in the middle of the vehicle. Partially designed for the driver, riders can see a list of stops on the way there. We guess the only problem is that the signal can be lost in case of a narrow street or going through a tunnel. We hope other cities adopt this idea for travelers who are navigationally challenged.
Read More | Pasta & Vinegar
If you are one of the 2 to 4 million that fortunate enough to be able to attend the Presidential Inauguration Jan. 20, help is there to ease your trip. Navigating Washington is a site where you can track or be tracked and find the parade route, calendar of events and travel restrictions. If you have an iPhone or BlackBerry, PointAbout is a kewl app that will help you navigate around the area and find transportation, entertainment, restaurant and WiFi listings. The download is free.
Read More | Navigating Washington
Those who are coordinated enough to manage a trackball will appreciate the Kensington SlimBlade. Navigation mode controls scrolling and cursor, while media mode controls volume, play/pause, forward/back, stop and track selection. Finally, view mode pans and zooms in and out and a heads-up display lets you know which mode you are currently using. The trackball is both Mac and PC compatible, connects by USB 2.0 and you can pre-order now for $129.99.
Read More | Kensington
Never worry about getting lost in the woods again. With the Backtrack GPS Finder, you mark a spot (like your car,) press a button and it instantly records the space. Even better, it will keep up to 3 locations in its memory. The self-calibrating compass has a SiRF Star III GPS receiver, is water resistant, runs on 2 AA batteries (not included,) and includes a lanyard for wearing or attaching. At a size of only 9 x 7 x 1cm, the Backtrack Finder carries a price of £59.99 (~$111.58.)
Read More | Iwoot
If you’re anything like several people we know and get lost in your own driveway, we’ve found a new device to help get you oriented. Hammacher Schlemmer’s keychain GPS Homing Device promises to take you back to a predetermined starting point (within five yards). Say you’ve parked your car in the giant parking lot at the mall and come stumbling out with armloads of new purchases - if you pressed one of two simple buttons to set the location of your car, this little wonder fob will tell you exactly in which direction you need to go.
At $79.95 for the water resistant, drink coaster sized unit which includes a self-calibrating digital compass and a lanyard, we’re more inclined to suggest that you get a “more complicated,” fully functional portable GPS unit for a few dollars more. And, if along with being directionally challenged, you have a habit of losing your keys, this is definitely not the device for you…