Waze got written up in Technology Review revealing a few more details about the crowd sourced social navigation app. As you drive and as you add map corrections or notices about a speed trap, you earn points. Other than bragging rights, did you know that those point matter in other ways?
According to Techology Review, "We use it as a confidence score for the contributions that user makes," says VP DiAnn Eisnor. A report of a traffic jam from a low-ranked user is less likely to change the route suggested by Waze than one from a high-ranked user, for example.
The article also ponts to Waze's potential for earning money and advertising, as they have run promotions in the past where you can use WAZE as a game layer and collect points towards a specific prize (sponsored or not). Remember driving to "vote" on your phone platform? Think about that only it's maybe branded icons where people get entered for a giveaway.
Nice intro to the ability to send text messages via satellite from the SPOT transmitter in the NYT today. The capability helps you keep in contact with the outside world when you are beyond the reach of cellphone towers. So while the walk in the park might keep you in contact with even an AT&T network tower, a walk in a National Forest might get you so far out that you need something like the SPOT.
We've talked about the DeLorme PN-60W GPS receiver that gets you out there and pairs with the SPOT transmitter to send SMS messages and location statuses via the SPOT transmitter. In the first quarter, SPOT is also going to release a smartphone App that will pair with a special "SPOT Connect" transmitter to send messages. The video below describes the service that is supposed to launch imminently.
Inrix has added to the stable of automakers it is serving; this one adds Audi to the Ford Sync and Toyota Entune telematics products. The Audi MMI system is their version of a smarter car, with Inrix powering the traffic solution. The Audi MMI system claims to consumer the Inrix data, account for the detailed traffic information and offers users the best route to their destination. Traffic changes mid-trip? the MMI system will of course take this into account and alter the route if a better one is available. While this seems basic, the payout is in the fact that Inrix is tracking the highways and the secondary roadways so that it knows the secondary roads aren't a better choice just because they are out of overage like other systems. Inrix is claiming 4 million traffic probes; simply a huge number up from under a million just a few years ago.
The new Inrix HD data will be flowing across a new traffic standard delivery format (aligned to by the Transport Protocol Experts Group - TPEG) allowing more data in a smaller footprint, consuming less bandwidth and pumping more detail down to the navigation system.
The Inrix powered services will be available on models starting mid-year.
TeleNav is a key supplier of mobile phone based navigation and was founded by one of the original engineers on the US GPS satellite system. Bob Rennard is currently their CTO.
I had a Q&A with Bob Rennard in 2009, where he relayed a few details of the early work on the GPS systems, and now Telenav has put together this video of another interview, giving insight into what life was like in the early years and what his point of view is on the GPS system. I like his "Wow Moments" in the development of the GPS field.
Check it out:
More information on products and services at Telenav
Garmin's new Nuvi 295 is 40+% off a $63 today only at Amazon, and probably only for a limited time. The new Nuvi gives you a Mobile Phone-like form factor with both portrait and landscape navigation views along with a good set of features including the basics like text to speech and millions of Points of interest to get you around the US or Canada, but also a 3MP camera and WiFi to enable features like checking email, getting attachments in MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint and in PDF's. This also allows you to have one-touch navigation from addresses in your email.
So this caught my eye this morning as I was flipping through the Staples circular for GPS Deals. The TomTom XL 340TM is on sale for $149 - a pretty steep price for a 4.3-inch screen TomTom with lifetime maps and traffic. (Amazon has the TomTom XL 340TM for $110 at this writing.)
The problem is that they showed a Garmin Nuvi 1350 image along with the promotion. Click on the Nuvi 1350 link to go to Amazon and see the very same promotional image used there.
Wow, that was the fastest App upgrade I have ever seen; Garmin released a new version of their StreetPilot App for the iPhone addressing two large concerns that I surfaced in my review of the StreetPilot App and numerous other consumers voiced as feedback for the App.
The Voice is now clearer and a lot less garbled when giving directions on my iPhone 4; seems like a quick adjustment and things are a lot better.
The Map Downloads are to be faster too, and a lot less blotchy. I panned the map tonight looking at the area around Boston and noticed that Garmin now downloads maps more quickly, and in bigger blocks. See the images below; on the left is the original Version launched last week with smaller map segments, and what can't be shown here is the overall slowness of the download. On the right, the map for the same Target store is downloaded much more quickly, but in larger map block sizes.
Garmin claims that the "Map Storage [is] increased - Browse even more maps offline you've previously downloaded" on the App store indicating to me that there were some adjustments made to help remedy the situation. The App size is now 8.4MB (still tiny), versus <8MB for the last version.
Finally, Garmin also added a volume control to the iPod playback capability. Now the iPod volume controls are offered through the Navigation menu that comes up through the "Page Curl" on the map page. Nice addition.
The move to 5-inch screens across 2010 has yielded a few great deals on the new standard for widescreened units, offering some deals that offer great value and functionality in the new bigger real estate versions.
The TomTom XXL 540S is a text to speech unit that offers some nice features at $99. Complete with advanced lane guidance, a fold flat mount and their advanced IQ routes to help create more accurate routing times the XXL540S also comes with maps of the US, Canada and Mexico.
Similarly the Garmin Nuvi 1450 offers text to speech, lane assistance with junction view and multipoint routing (think a set of errands). The Garmin comes in a little higher at $129, and comes with North American Maps.
Garmin announced their StreetPilot App for the iPhone this week at CES, and I wanted to take the opportunity to gather some first impressions of their initial App effort.
It's well known that they are late to the iPhone game given their drive into the Nuvifone strategy that didn't receive the market welcome that they had originally thought it would. Given that failed attempt, it was prudent to get a hold in the marketplace in Smartphones as they continue to be the go-to personal device. I read this morning that Smart Phones are expected to surpass computers in overall numbers in the US within a year or two; simply amazing. With that portable and very personal computing power, people are going to rely on and want to rely on that device for more and more integrated capabilities. It is imperative to play in this area.
Garmin StreetPilot already a Contender
Overall, the Garmin StreetPilot App is a reasonable choice, with some strengths and a few weaknesses that while good enough, represent areas of vulnerability for Garmin. They will need to jump on these to 1) Keep any momentum coming out of their CES launch announcement and 2) Build a superior product. For years, Garmin has had an easy to use interface that continues to grow and evolve; it makes its way to the StreetPilot App. Navigation continues to be solid, with some features that make the StreetPilot App more full-featured than other navigation Apps when they were launched well over a year ago. It of course melds well with the iPhone capabilities - navigating from portrait and landscape modes and navigating to contacts from within the App. So while the weaknesses don't make it superior in the market the $39 price point and the expectation for improvements make it a contender in the App world.
SPOT has announced that they are now compatible with the Android platform and can offer you a quick way to SMS the world from beyond the cell towers in most far flung corners of the earth. The App allows you to use your smartphone to send a text message out to the world via satellite communications, leaving behind the cell phone towers and almost eliminating the issue of not being in touch. I say almost, because while SPOT covers everywhere in the world I would need to go, they don't fully cover the globe.
SPOT Connect will retail for $169.99 MSRP plus a required annual subscription service starting at $99.99 per year and is scheduled to begin shipping this January to retail locations and online sites specializing in GPS, outdoor recreation and personal electronics.1 For more information on SPOT Connect and other SPOT products and location-based satellite service offerings like SPOT Assist Roadside and BoatUS Towing Services, visit www.findmespot.com
For this cool innovation, SPOT won an Innovation award at CES this year. Recall that you can also access this cool text your friends from (nearly) anywhere capability with the DeLorme PN-60W with SPOT handheld GPS also.