December 30, 2010
Ford and Inrix have announced a new App for the iPhone and Android operating systems that allow you to interact with your Ford Sync equipped car. The move will bring better integration and better out of car usability to the celebrated car infotainment system.
The applications will allow you to send destinations to your car and preview traffic conditions before you leave for work or your appointments. Not only will you be able to upload new addresses to the cloud-based SyncMyRide account, but you will be able to see traffic maps for highways, arterials and city streets for 126 major metro areas across the US, see traffic forecasts based on Inrix's extensive experience and databases, and find the fastest routes around traffic hotspots all before stepping foot in the car.
According to Ford and Inrix, "Ford, Lincoln and Mercury owners of 2010 and 2011 SYNC-equipped, TDI-capable vehicles can download the SYNC Destinations app for free from the Apple App Store and Android Market. To activate it, the user has to enter his or her www.syncmyride.com login credentials. Once those credentials are submitted, the app confirms the user’s TDI subscription status, and is then unlocked and ready for use."
Full Press Release Below.....
Continue reading: "Ford Launches Sync App - iPhone, iPad and Android"
December 21, 2010
There are still some great deals to be had so you can get those GPS units under the tree. Most include special shipping rates, and an on-time guarantee. Otherwise, there are some great deals at local stores too.
Amazon - Great Prices and Free One-Day Shipping on a lot of models
TomTom XXL 550TM (Lifetime Traffic & Maps Edition) - $129 - Free one-day shipping on this. With a 5-inch screen and lifetime map and traffic updates included in the purchase price, this is a killer deal. Good brand name and great price.
Garmin Nuvi 1350/1350T - $129 - Free one-day shipping on this too, A 4.3-inch screen, lifetime traffic alerts included and Lane Assist guidance for simplifying complex highway interchanges takes stress out of those crucial moments on unfamiliar highways.
Garmin Approach G5 Golf GPS - $327 - this is one of the latest form Garmin with thousands of pre-loaded courses and no annual subscription fee. digital scorecard allows you to analyze your game after the round. Again free one-day shipping.TomTom XL 340M (Lifetime Maps Edition)
- $89 and free one-day shipping. This is a 4.3-inch unit that includes lifetime maps, spoken street names and lane guidance. A solid Performer.
Garmin Nuvi 1300 - $88 - Entry level unit with quality features and a great interface. Spoken street names and maps of the 48 states.
Radio Shack - in most neighborhoods with some decent deals
Garmin Nuvi 1350T - Same $129 as above.
Garmin Nuvi 1450T - $149 - a 5-inch screen and lifetime traffic. Nice Garmin set-up in the 5-inch variety.
Garmin Nuvi 1300 - $89 - As mentioned above - entry level Garmin at a good sub-$100 price.
Staples - additional 10% off one item with Coupon in this weekend's circulars
Nuvi 265 WT - $119 - less 10% is about $108. Lifetime traffic, 4.3-inch screen and speaks street names.
TomTom XXL 540S - $119 - less 10% is about $108. 5-inch screen and spoken street names.
TomTom XL 350T - $89 - Lifetime traffic included and maps of US, Canada and Mexico. Says street names and is a pretty good deal if they have them in stock and you want to brave the crowds.
Garmin 255WT - $79 - slightly older unit design with updated maps. Has lifetime traffic and says street names.
I'll update as I see more........
December 20, 2010
The new TomTom App update hit the iTunes store today that includes two key items in the release. The first is an updated map set for the iPhone App - a nice thing to have every now and then because as TomTom claims, 15% of roads change every year. The second big item is the addition of MapShare to the iPhone App.
MapShare is the TomTom feature that they debuted back in July of 2007 when it was included on the TomTom GO 720, which allowed users to make numerous map changes on their device and also share those changes with the community of other MapShare users. How successful is it? Well about a year and a half later, TomTom had a user base of over 5 million users on MapShare, learning and editing maps from the crowd. While this isn't responsible for all map changes, it allows TeleAtlas and TomTom to focus their resources where the need higher level, more intense understanding of the road attributes, while still maintaining good up to date coverage of all roadways.
Notification on the iPhone App when there are Map Updates available for you.
TomTom has had a steady stream of updates coming since the launch of their iPhone App. You can see my Original Review of the TomTom App Version 1.2 update
. TomTom added Traffic support with version 1.3
, and then offered iPhone 4 compatibility (multi-tasking and background operation) to version 1.5.
Download the TomTom App now in the iTunes store. There are several varieties with different base maps; US only ($39), US+Canada ($49), US & Mexico ($49) and Western Europe ($75). All are at different price points, and are on sale for the Christmas holiday.
December 16, 2010
Navigon has several announcements today about their mobile products that sound like they are continuing to innovate, reap the success of their past work and are listening to their consumers who are sometimes looking for simple functioning applications or more sophisticated all-in-one apps.
New Navigon Version 1.7
The updates today include: universal iPad integration, Zagat Survey, Active Lane Assistant, Map Reporter, enhanced Retina display support, and new user notifications. Yes, you can use the Navigon version 1.7 on your iPad with GPS. Navigon has added support to send in map edits to the user community in this version, something that is a smart move given the momentum of crowd sourced maps and open mapping projects.
The regional versions are effective today with the full North America and US versions coming shortly through the Apple approval process.
Don't forget that Navigon uses Inrix traffic data feeds for their paid traffic subscription inside their navigation application. The inrix data feeds have excellent coverage down to secondary roads in dozens of metro areas.
New Apps in the New Year
The New Year will bring new Free Apps from Navigon that specialize in a single functionality. The current example is a parking helper app called help2park that will help you find suitable parking nearby; an app that may have some value in larger cities. The search results can be displayed in a map or a list format.
Full Press Release is Below.....
Continue reading: "Navigon: Mobile App Upgrades (iPad Support) and New Products in 2011"
December 15, 2010
Amazon has a lightning round going on right now for the TomTom XXL 540TM for $99 - the last time we saw it was earlier this month for $119. Hurry - just a few minutes left.
Maps of US/Canada, IQ Routes for realistic travel time estimates, lane guidance to make sure you know which lane to be in at crazy interchanges, 7 million Points of Interest and more. Again - This is the best deal on a GPS I have seen since Black Friday - jump on it if you want to buy a GPS.
At Amazon - TomTom XXL 540TM Lightning Deal
December 14, 2010
MapMyRide continues to iterate their application with a recent update to the iPhone App to bring a more detailed and flexible stats screen to your daily routine. This work was born out of the Fisica Key inclusion and rash of new capabilities that ANT+ integration can bring.
Not only can you get the feedback from the GPS (speed, distance calculations, etc), but also data feeds for Heart Rate Monitors, Cadence meters, power meters, and more. All very cool - see my Review of the Fisica Sensor Key and its use with MapMyRide.
Changing the fields is as easy as tapping the field and choosing from the available data feeds.
The "GPS" related fields are: Speed, Pace, Time, Distance, and Time/Distance as a split field.
The Sensor Fields currently available are: Heart Rate, Bike Speed/Cadence, Bike Speed, Cadence, Bike Power, and Stride Sensor.
Waze has a holiday promotion on that will help you accumulate more points in their Social Driving App. With Candy Canes, Snow Flakes and Santa Hat icons on the roads, you are bound to grab a few more points driving around these days.
With over 2 million users, the social driving application is mapping roads, giving navigation directions and helping you get from here to there along with other Wazers. The Driving Groups allow you to find other Wazers who are like you, and preferentially learn about their alerts and traffic problems over the others that may not apply to you.
Waze has also mentioned on their Blog that a high resolution - Retina Display Ready version is coming soon!
More on the Holiday goodies and using the Waze App at Waze
December 11, 2010
Amazon continues to hit it out of the park offering up so many deals, it is hard to keep track of them.
TomTom is selling a large array of GPS units for up to 40% off. What amazes me is that there is such a robust selection right around the $100 mark, starting as low as about $89 for a decent widescreen. I can't even recommend that you get a "standard" 3.5-inch screen anymore with these prices. The widescreen is such an advantage with little up-charge.
A few to consider:
Widescreen - 4.3-inch
- TomTom XL 340S - $89 - with text to speech (Says street names), advanced lane guidance (images to help get you in the right exit lane at complex highway interchanges) and IQ routes (to give more accurate route times)
- TomTom XL 340TM - $119 - Same as the "S" but adds lifetime map upgrades and lifetime traffic reports in covered cities.
Widescreen - 5.0-inch
- TomTom XXL 540S - $99 - with text to speech (Says street names), advanced lane guidance (images to help get you in the right exit lane at complex highway interchanges) and IQ routes (to give more accurate route times)
- TomTom XXL 540TM - $129 - Same as the "S model but adds lifetime map upgrades and lifetime traffic reports in covered cities.
For the extra $10 on the respective models - really think hard about the 5-inch units - the extra space can really help.
At Amazon - TomTom GPS Units up to 40% off
December 10, 2010
Another Lightning Deal Day for GPS units on Amazon today; Up today are several handhelds for the outdoor adventurer. these lightning rounds last only a few hours or until the inventory is sold out. So don't wait too long.
- Garmin eTrex Legend HCx (info) - was $179 - Now $151 - On Right Now
- Magellan eXplorist 610 - currently $399 - Sale Starts at 10:45 AM ET
- DeLorme Earthmate PN-60W with SPOT Communicator (info) - Currently $426 - Sale Starts at 12:45PM ET
- DeLorme Earthmate PN 40 (info) - Currently $199 - Sale Starts at 6:45PM ET
At Amazon - Handheld GPS Lightning Round Sales
Maybe not the most earth shattering article on geocaching, but a nice one nonetheless that points out the stunning number of Geocaches within 100 miles of times Square (answer is 21,000).
While you might want the accuracy of a dedicated handheld GPS device, the applications coming out for smartphones may just be good enough to get you there; at only $10 for the Geocaching.com App, on the iPhone, it can get a family hunting for local treasure pretty quickly.
More on Geocaching at NYT
Interesting article over at TechFlash about the two platforms, with comments from Jim Bak, Inrix's spokesman. Longtime readers here at GPSLodge know that I like to cover both companies, for the newer, let me explain:
Inrix is a leading or the leading provider of high quality traffic coverage through a giant network of GPS probes and traffic sensors. The data is sent out to customers allowing see small road slices worth of traffic data on primary and secondary roads. Their data is used on the web, in media and in their smartphone traffic apps, as well as traffic features on the Navigon App.
Waze is a social driving platform that allows users to map the world (crowd sourcing the map generation) while getting driving directions and navigation from the application and on top of that accumulating points on the game layer of the App. This all happens with the backdrop of being able to see other Wazers' avitars on the screen, and occasionally interact with them.
Waze + Inrix = Future State?
The other day as I was driving up Rt 128 here in metro Boston, flipping between Waze for directions and speed traps, and Inrix for traffic details, I knew that the two were made for each other. TechFlash seems to agree, while pointing out that Waze has a long way to go on the traffic capability side, lacking both the significant data stream for accurate traffic reads and the associated App features. Jim Bak points out that Waze doesn't answer key questions like 'What’s the best way based on traffic to get there?' and 'Given the traffic conditions, how long will it take until I arrive?'
With the recent $25 Million in funding, maybe the traffic track is an area that Waze will seek to buildout, and maybe, just maybe there is a future where Waze community drivers become Inrix traffic probes, and Waze offers Inrix quality traffic insight to their App.
That would be fun, help on the navigational side with the reassurance of knowing if you can avoid that terrible traffic jam while traveling down the road.
December 9, 2010
Another day, another deal - the Nuvi 1300 is a good entry level widescreen that offers a lot of value. Lifetime Map upgrades are included in this unit, a retail value of well over $50 if bought for another model after the fact.
Maps of the 48 states plus Hawaii, and Puerto Rico are included in this unit.
More info on the Garmin Nuvi 1300 here at GPSLodge.
At Amazon - Garmin Nuvi 1300LM 4.3-Inch Portable GPS Navigator with Lifetime Map Updates
December 8, 2010
OpenStreetMaps is a six year old effort to map the streets around the world as an open source database that allows developers to utilize the maps and citizen mappers add to the accuracy of the map set.
That openness and eventually the accuracy may hurt TeleAtlas and NAVTEQ sales if the maps become accurate enough to support some current business applications. However, while the crowd is busy sourcing maps, NAVTEQ and TeleAtlas are busy not only mapping, but measuring lanes, speed limits, and a lot of advanced features of the roads that are becoming the true value in map sets and valuable features of end-user products.
Could OpenStreetMaps replace paid maps from the two biggie suppliers? Is Google going to become a third player in the global map supplier race?
The Wall St Journal takes a look at the powerful business implications that come with "Good Enough" supplanting "Top Notch" and how OpenStreeMaps may change the current mapping business.
At WSJ - OpenStreetmap as an Alternative to Commercial Vendors
Yesterday Amazon started a feature on TomTom XXL 540TM for $119, and Amazon just launched a lightning deal for the very high quality Garmin Nuvi 1350 at $125 that I would imagine will sell out.
The Nuvi 1350 is a 4.3-inch unit with a lot of features including text to speech (says street names), maps of North America, thin design, enhanced operating interface making it easier to use, and if needed, pedestrian navigation.
At Amazon Garmin nuvi 1350 - 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator -
OpenCaching.com has opened as a Beta site, and is ready for customers. The site is now in competition with the landmark Geocaching.com site as well as independent "OpenCaching" sites from other countries that have been opening up.
A long time partner of Geocaching.com, Garmin is putting its muscle behind running its own OpenCaching.com site for reasons I can only speculate on. If I were the Garmin brand manager, I would want to more tightly integrate and promote existing aspects like Chirp functionality, and lay a solid groundwork for pending innovation. Working through Geocaching.com must not have been getting either the features promoted or the marketing message customized in a Garmin way enough so they decided to get into their own Geocaching business. The decision was certainly taken before the Chirp launch, and may have been born out of the failed WhereIGo game that never caught on in the geocaching community. Opencaching.com is a free service/site, while Geocaching.com has a lot of free services and features, but also offers a premium membership that brings additional features and a small incremental set of member-only caches.
The task at hand is not small; Geocaching has a decade head start, over a million caches world-wide, and 4-5 million cachers according to their website. Currently, there are hundreds of geocaches within 5 miles of my house on Geocaching.com, and the nearest geocache in OpenCaching.com is about 40 miles away. In retrospect however, that might be pretty good for being announced less than 24 hours ago. There is the ability to indicate that you own a set of caches and that you are cross listing them in OpenCaching; which is what several owners have done in my area.
OpenCaching has the ability to find caches near you, with a faceted search, allowing you to use sliders to rate the difficulty level, the terrain level the size of the cache and the "Awesomeness" of the cache. While a bit egotistical at first blush, this is a good addition in my mind; there are some caches that are awesome to visit and it should have its own rating. It appears that the owner can seed the awesomeness rating and then let those who found it tweak the ratings up or down depending on their point of view when they log their finds. Well done.
Hiding a geocache - You can offer to hide a geocache, plugging in information about the geocache in a simple user interface, with a prominent checkbox for it being "Chirp" enabled. It's clear that the legal team has been all over the site in a way a start-up wouldn't worry about with warnings and disclaimers at many turns. Not to fear, I would imagine that the 99.9% of people who don't read the 10-page end user license agreements and just blindly check "I Agree" will seek to skip the legal terms here too.
Logging your Finds - Of course, the big area for use here - allow you to leave notes, rate the cache on the difficulty, terrain, size and awesomeness scales.
Garmin seems to be gunning for a robust springtime readiness with OpenCaching.com - go check it out.
Full Press Release Follows......
Continue reading: "OpenCaching.com; Geocaching Website from Garmin"
December 7, 2010
Amazon has another amazing deal right now and the TomTom XXL 540TM is only $119; that's a 5-inch screen, lifetime maps and traffic for $119? Wow.
Maps of US/Canada, IQ Routes for realistic travel time estimates, lane guidance to make sure you know which lane to be in at crazy interchanges, 7 million Points of Interest and more. This is the best deal on a GPS I have seen since Black Friday - jump on it if you want to buy a GPS.
At Amazon - TomTom XXL 550TM 5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator (Lifetime Traffic & Maps Edition)
December 2, 2010
Waze, the "Social Navigation App" has reported that they surpassed 2 million users; a pretty good sign that they are either past the "Tipping Point" or pretty close to it. The free App allows people to navigate using their iPhone, Android based phone or BlackBerry all while accumulating points in their game-enhanced user interface. Users have driven about a quarter Billion, yes, that's with a "B" kilometers using Waze. That's important because it's a crowdsourced model, with drivers actually mapping the world, reporting on traffic, and correcting map issues while they drive. Points are awarded for driving more miles with extra points for driving roads that are a little out of the way where the maps may need a little refinement.
What's Good About Waze?
I use it, and like it for a few less obvious reasons traced back to a couple of key fundamentals of Waze; namely the gaming and the social aspects.
- Navigation with reports on Police Traps all in one - with others driving the same roads I do on a regular basis, police traps get reported on the driving map. A key signal that the App can be trusted is that you can see others driving, adding accuracy to the maps, to traffic reports and to police traps.
- The Gaming Points Craze - like checking into Foursquare, and gaining points, Waze offers points for driving, and other positive behaviors (reporting map errors, traffic jams or police traps). I think that this is a key factor in their success. I whip out Waze when on longer drives to make sure I grab as many points as possible. You can also tap on other users you see on the map and "Ping" them to write short messages back and forth (Waze does caution you not to type and drive, and you can elect not to receive these messages). I actually "saw" Scott of GPSFix while driving down the road one day having a short conversation with him via the "Ping" feature. BTW - he has like 40+K points to my ~13K points; I need to keep driving to catch up!
It's not for everyone though. It has an element of "beta" to it as some of the areas of the country are less reliable than others which then return some unusual directions, but if you join the 2+ million users, you can help refine the accuracy of the maps around you. They are constantly upgrading the features and I have seen steady improvement over the last several months.
Hey it's free, why not try it out.
More info at Waze
December 1, 2010
TomTom has the newest Uber-GPS out on the market just in time for the holidays (for Euro only); the TomTom GO 1005 is a 5" screen, with the "LIVE" designator offering connected services such as HD Traffic (high definition traffic resolution), weather, speed camera instant updates, and Google search. Of course it has the TomTom features you'd expect, like lane guidance, IQ routes, and text to speech guidance, but it also has a 5" glass screen that offers vivid colors, easier touch navigation around the operating system and a richer experience overall.
The new magnetic click mount allows for easy on/off mounting of the GO LIVE 1005 to the windshield mount. Clever design; wish I'd thought of that.
The TomTom GO LIVE 1005 retails for about $450.
What about the US? What hurdles Exist?
So for now, the TomTom GO LIVE 1005 is available in Europe, not in the US. My hope is that this is because of technical limitations, and not market conditions. The newest models with high definition traffic systems are really the GPS solution that so many people need, but may be unwilling to pay for. As TomTom adds iPhone subscribers, one has to imagine that their proprietary coverage through anonymous GPS probe data will start to provide the data stream needed to get high quality coverage of traffic issues here.
TomTom GO LIVE 1005 Review
There is a new review up for the TomTom GO LIVE 1005 that rates it highly.