Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

First Augmented Reality App Reaches App Store (MacNN)

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

[Editor's note: The future is here. Not quite immersive, but at least augmented by overlaying points-of-interest icons over a live video feed from your iPhone's camera (YouTube video above). Makes use of iPhone 3.0 OS features to push route disruption notices and in-app purchases of bus routes and additional points of interest.]

Republished from MacNN.
Wednesday, August 26th

Beating out acrossair’s Nearest Tube, French company Presselite has released the first augmented reality app for the iPhone, Metro Paris Subway 3.0. Previous versions have relied on 2D maps as users navigate the Paris subway system, identifying routes and points of interest. Version 3.0 allows users to find POIs using a live video mode, on top of which the app overlays icons and distance markers.

As a user walks through Paris, icons shift relative to a phone’s position, judged according to compass and GPS data. Because of the function’s dependence on compass headings, augmented reality can only be used with an iPhone 3GS. The app costs $1; other changes in v3.0 include Google Maps integration, push notifications for route disruptions, and in-app purchase options for bus routes and different POI categories.

Check it out on iTunes . . .

iPhone 3.0′s Magnetometer and A-GPS

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

iphonetomtom

Looks like the iPhone 3.0 firmware plus the new 3Gs hardware will give the dedicated GPS market a run for it’s money. The new hardware includes a magnetometer, otherwise known as a digital compass. Combine that with the A-GPS, which supplements the slow satellite signal with fast WiFi and cell phone tower triangulation, and accurate and timely turn-by-turn navigation is possible. Both TomTomNavigon, , and TeleNav have jumped into the fray, joining X-Roads which was briefly available in a crippled form on the App store. Garmin might be shooting itself in the foot by staying out, but they have their own GPS + phone plans already. Besides the added precision of the new hardware, it’ll be easier for developers to incorporate maps directly into their apps. We should see a whole new class of apps available. Imagine walking along a street and pointing your phone at a building, statue, mountain, road, etc and have reams of helpful information come up about that particular feature. A great wayfinding device in the making!

NAVIGON exits N. America, may make iPhone app (MacNN)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

navigon7300t

[Editor’s note: Looks like the iPhone and cell phones in general will continue to exert pressure on the low cost GPS market. Seperately, TomTom looks to be developing their own iPhone app.]

Republished from Mac News Network.

NAVIGON today said it would quit its GPS device business in North America but may offer its software on the iPhone and other platforms in return. The company doesn’t tell GPS Business News how quickly it expects to leave but says the decision stems from too-stiff competition at the low end of the GPS business. Where its business had been comfortable as long as large rivals like Garmin and TomTom kept their navigator prices higher, the push down to as low as $99 (for a TomTom ONE) has left NAVIGON with little way to differentiate itself.

In exchange, the company plans to expand by making its software available on other GPS-capable devices, particularly smartphones. Company chief Egon Minar specifically says an iPhone version through the App Store is a possibility courtesy of OS X iPhone 3.0′s support for turn-by-turn navigation but that it depends on price competitiveness, as other rivals are likely to introduce their own dedicated iPhone GPS apps.

Besides cost, NAVIGON has primarily sold its devices on offering features at a lower overall price, such as free lifetime traffic updates, lane assist and multi-route selection.

Magnetometer confirmed for iPhone 3.0? (MacNN)

Monday, May 18th, 2009

iphone_magnetometer_screenshot

[Editor's note: Including a compass in the new iPhone will make the assisted GPS unit more useful for turn-by-turn navigation.]

Republished from Mac News Network.

Rumors of a magnetometer in the next iPhone may have been confirmed, following leaked screenshots of the new iPhone debugging menus. Posted images show a new compass option, which can be turned on and off within General Location settings. Indications of a digital compass were first reported in April, when configuration files were observed to have references such as “auto-focus camera,” “Voice Control” and “magnetometer.”

Apple is expected to release the final version of the iPhone 3.0 firmware this summer, and one or more matching devices shortly after June’s WWDC event. An apparently accelerating schedule for beta firmware may indicate that Apple intends to release iPhone 3.0 on or around WWDC, possibly as a means of circumventing the problems experienced during the iPhone 3G launch last July. In attempting to release new hardware, firmware and the MobileMe online service simulataneously, Apple overburdened networks and left many code problems unresolved.

iPhone SDK 3.0 – Playing with Map Kit (ObjectGraph)

Friday, May 8th, 2009

mapkit3_logo

[Editor's note: Three part series on the new iPhone 3.0 map APIs for aspiring map application developers from the ObjectGraph.blog.]

Republished from the ObjectGraph.blog.

I started looking at the Map Kit API for developing a quick and dirty – Find where you parked your car – application.

There is no programming guide for Map Kit yet on the developer pages for Apple, So I decided to share some some of it here.

UPDATE: Follow the second part here
http://blog.objectgraph.com/index.php/2009/04/03/iphone-sdk-30-playing-with-map-kit-part-2/

I started looking at the Map Kit API for developing a quick and dirty – Find where you parked your car – application.

There is no programming guide for Map Kit yet on the developer pages for Apple, So I decided to share some some of it here.

The main class that supports a Map is called

MKMapView

You need to include the header

MapKit/MapKit.h

Also dont forget to add a reference to the Framework MapKit.Framework

The code is relatively simple. Here are the steps

  • Create a simple project – I chose utility application – Name it whatever you want
  • Go to MainViewController.h
  • Include the header MapKit/MapKit.h

Continue reading at ObjectGraph.blog . . .

Reviewing the Nokia 6210. An iPhone competitor? No.

Monday, April 20th, 2009

nokia6210navigator

Nokia’s WOM World was kind enough to loan me a Nokia 6210 Navigator (full specs) with the new Nokia Maps 3.0 beta to test in March. I was excited to use this phone because on the surface it has a similar feature set to my iPhone in a smaller profile with potentially less costly carrier subscription and not being tied to ATT. The phone has a GPS, camera, video phone capabilities, and better navigation software with 3d and walking modes via their OVI Nokia-branded maps service which came preloaded on my testing unit.

It took me a while to figure out that I could access the mapping functionality via a dedicated map “compass” button on the main button area (blue button on the bottom of top (LCD part) slider unit in photo above). The mapping functionality is not visible in the phone’s home screen of GUI buttons. After a while I figured out how to use the “Menu” key to get more than top level menus and then choose the map icon there, too. Maps are preloaded onto the phone, no need for net connection for basic functionality, a plus over the iPhone.

Compared to the iPhone, the Nokia 6210 has several great 3d map views more akin to GPS car navigaion systems (an app is available for the iPhone that brings some of this functionality over). The Nokia 6210 has better integrated search for POI around you (I have downloaded several 3rd party apps for my iPhone that do the same thing). The 6210 also does walking directions (and allows straight line walking, not just along roads).

It is strange this phone ships with the GPS turned off. When I pulled up the map application for the first time it did not ask me if it should turn on the GPS receiver. I had to go into the settings area and manual enable. While I can understand the goal of reducing the drain on the battery, this was inconvienent and confusing to turn on. During normal usage, the GPS would take a very long time to engage. The maps app would crash often (it was beta, after all). The 6210 doesn’t seem to use cell phone tower triangulation to get the fast fix (and GPS later to refine position), a serious downside compared to the iPhone’s rapid location display and then refinement. Route planning on the phone required a license code, compared to the free Google Maps routing on the iPhone. This adds potentially $100 extra per year for the same functionality.

The Nokia 6210 Navigator is a slider phone, but the slider functionality did not always engage the phone’s OS to unlock, or there would be a extremely long delay. The keypad interface instead of my iPhone’s touch screen was infuriating. I should note the phone has the old 3 abc-per numeric keypad layout, not a blackberry qwerty keypad.

Phone call quality seemed on par or slightly poorer than my iPhone. Same locations, same SIM, same carrier. Data connections were notably slower due to reliance on 2G (Edge) service. Web page rendering was terrible compared to the iPhone. Nokia has announced several new phones with 3G speeds.

I wanted to test the video conf. capability since this phone has two cameras, one pointed towards your face and the other at the back of the phone. But I didn’t know anyone else with a video conf. capable phone. It is rumored the summer 2009 iPhone hardware update will enable this.

The camera was okay, not as good as iPhone in low light. The 6210 does have a flash, though! and the battery is easily replaced. Just pop off the back of the case. The SIM card is located behind the battery and easy to swap out.

All in all I prefered my iPhone 3G over the Nokia 6210 Navigator. I see that Nokia is prepping a new touch screen version and has introduced the Ovi store to compete with the iTunes app store. But by the time that is released, we’ll have a new version of the iPhone.

Watch this YouTube video for views of the phone; Maps application shown at the very end.

App: iTopoMap for iPhone

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

[Editor’s note: Download free USGS topoquads and use the GPS and maps when you’re out hiking beyond cell reception and when Google Maps tiles don’t work (and don’t have good contour lines, creeks, or trails on them anyways). I’ve used the app and it works exactly as advertised. Thanks Martin!]

Republished in part from Martin’s posts at BackpackingLite.

Just downloaded and started using a new topo app for the iphone called iTopoMaps ($15) (web site). Looks like someone who backpacks and programs has gotten around to designing a topo map application. (There is another app called TopoPointUSA for $10 but I don’t like it as much.)

This app allows you to download and cache USGS topos on your phone freely downloadable through the phone in advance before your hike so that you can use the iPhone while in the wilderness, no need a 3G or cell phone signal. Turns the iPhone into probably the best mapping GPS with no fees to pay for maps.

I used this in Shenandoah today and it worked well. Still no route planning (track or GPX) functionality but apparently it’s coming. It does allow to create waypoints. This app may be what finally justifies my iPhone after 8 months of love/hate.

Feature list:

  • Full 1:24k USGS Quads that can be locally cached on your iPhone
  • Scrollable multi-zoom map interface (likeGoogleMaps!)
  • Full 50 states
  • Waypoints
  • Goto Waypoint – distance and bearing
  • Magnetic Declination Calculations
  • GNIS Database for looking up features and identifiying them on the map!

I think the app hits the USGS google topo map server and downloads the image pyramids there. But they are free and will likely remain free.

You acquire the topos by tapping the screen while connected to the internet. So it does require a signal initially while planning and also requires some advance planning. But I cached all of Shenandoah yesterday before leaving my house while connected to broadband without any problem ( I have about 12Gb of free space on my phone so that helps). Those quads are now stored on my phone and since I visit Shenandoah very frequemtly they will stay on my phone for my next trips. No memory cards to fiddle with, no extra fee to pay to TOPO or Delorme or Garmin. FREE USGS topo Maps.

Interview: 1st Custom Map App Developer for the iPhone (Kelso)

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

[Editor’s note: An exciting development as Chris Leger @ Earthrover Software has partnered with Tom Harrison to release several of Tom’s California-focused recreation maps the iPhone and iPod Touch, the first such for the platform. Other efforts have wrapped poor functionality around terrible maps and in a couple cases decent gov’t National Park Service maps, not original custom cartography. Chris was kind enough to give me an email interview about the product.

As hand held GPS units, mobile platforms like the Apple iPhone and Amazon Kindle all converge, delivering custom maps to these devices will become a more important business opportunity for cartography shops. I see two classes of mobile map applications: (a) raw map with GPS and (b) enhanced map with GPS. Earthrover’s maps are a good example of the former while PacMaps’s Acadia National Park map app shows how a flat map can be enchanced with a placename index to search locations on the map and possibly even routing information.

So far examples of both solutions use just one map scale. It would be nice to see developers work with cartographers to offer additional custom maps at the zoomed out scales since the raw map isn’t legible when zoomed out.

An app that satisfies one or more of these seems destined to do well: (1) pre-trip planning and routing, (2) on-trail location, waypoints, and tracking, and (3) post-trip display show and tell.]

Q: Kelso’s Corner
Who contacted who about developing this app oriented around the recreation maps? I first saw your Mt. Tam Trail Map app ($5 each) and was entranced. Additional titles include: Angeles Front Country Trail Map, Mamoth High Country Trail Map, Point Reyes Trail Map, and San Diego Backcountry Trail Map.

A: Earthrover Software
I contacted Tom [Harrison] about it, and he was willing to give it a try.  I’ve used his maps in the past for trips in California, and my main interest in writing iPhone apps is for field guides and reference information to take into the field.  Having Tom’s maps available was one of the first things to come to mind–his maps are great and are well known, so they’re the obvious choice to have on a mobile device.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
I assume you did the development of the app? How much design review went into the app and it’s functionality?

A: Earthrover Software
Right; I wrote and designed the app.  I spent some time thinking about which features would be worth the complexity of implementing them, did some research to figure out what format to use for the data (PDF versus SVG versus PNG versus …), made a prototype to focus on smooth scrolling and zooming, then kept refining it until there wasn’t anything left on my to-do list.  Since Tom’s underlying map data is of such high quality, I could focus on keeping the user interface fast and tight–there’s not much screen real estate to play with, so every button counts.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
What have your initial sales been like?

A: Earthrover Software
With a few titles out and no advertising apart from our websites, I’d guess we’re averaging about 3-5 sales a day.  This will go up as we add more titles, and hopefully there will be a broader audience for some of the upcoming maps of National Parks.  While it would be nice to have a blockbuster project and pay off the mortgage, I don’t see that in the cards for the types of apps I enjoy writing–which is important since I’m doing this in my spare time, rather than on someone else’s dime.  I’m more interested in expanding sales by taking the underlying engines I now have for maps and field guides, and applying them to more products to appeal to a broader audience.  This has worked well for field guides.  The second one, Wildflowers of the Western Plains, was released today, and five more are in the works.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
Do you anticipate future titles (you must be experiencing some success to keep coming out with titles)?

A: Earthrover Software
Yes, we have more coming.  I submitted the Yosemite Valley Trail Map to Apple today, and Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Yosmite National Park, Death Valley, and Tom’s complete John Muir Trail map set are in the works.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
How long did it take to develop the app?

A: Earthrover Software
It was about a month of calendar time, I think, between me contacting Tom and getting the first app released.  That doesn’t sound like much, but I’m a pretty efficient programmer and put in  a lot of hours that month.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
What kind of testing have you done with it out in the field?

A: Earthrover Software
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I haven’t done any field testing with the apps yet.  I don’t have an iPhone (just an iPod touch), so I can’t really check out the GPS functionality except via IP localization.  Tom does field checks of his maps, so the underlying map data is known to be good, and I use Google Earth to fine-tune the map coordinates in the app.

Q: Kelso’s Corner
How do you see the iPhone 3.0 firmware making it easier to develop this type of product?

A: Earthrover Software
Easier integration with Google Maps will be interesting for many apps, and an obvious update to our apps is to allow the user to switch back and forth with a Google Maps view.  But Google Maps requires a network connection–ruling out use in the field on an iPod touch–and isn’t as fast in zooming and scrolling as our apps.

Conclusion: Kelso’s Corner
Thanks, Chris for sharing your development experience with us and good luck on future titles and projects! I’m sure the new iPhone 3.0 firmware will make it easier to sell a complete line of maps from within a single app instead of forcing users back to the iTunes store. Lots of potential :)

Going to Rain?

Friday, March 20th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Simple site tells you Yes or No if it will rain today with high temperature in your zipcode of choice (which is remembered between page loads). Screenshot below. Thanks Sean!]

View Going To Rain . . .

GPS Kit and MotionX for iPhone (Kelso)

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

The iPhone GPS war up’d the anti with the 4.0 release of MotionX for the iPhone (above). They claim over 2 million users now and are the top ranked naviation app on the iTunes app store now. New in this version:

  • All new user interface maintaining the same structure that you are used to
    while improving all the graphics and sounds
  • MotionX Open Road Maps
  • MotionX Open Terrain Maps

It seems to have caught up to GPS Kit 3.0 (below) for features and ease of use, though I still prefer GPS Kit’s interface which is a little more refined and iPhone-like and less like a computer arcade game (the developer specializes in those types of games).

Most notable in the GPS Kit 3.0 update is the huge battery saver features of turning off the screen but maintaining track recording while in the pocket just like the screen turns off when the phone is held to the ear during a phone call.

All the GPS apps need to get serious about cacheing maps BEFORE heading out to a trail. Cell phone service, let alone 3g, is spotty out in the mountains. Also allowing user specified tile source, not just Google or OpenMap. Maybe via the ability to setup “trips” (ala Tracks and Waypoints) based on the current visible map extent and then having the app pre-download map tiles down to the lowest zoom-level within a user configureable, say, 50 meg cache limit.

All apps are less than $10 from the iTunes store. MotionX is having a sale at $2.99 right now.

  • If you want Google maps (including terrain) and care more about advanced features and a more sane interface, get GPS Kit.
  • If you want Open Street Map base maps and pretty good advanced features but weird interface, get MotionX.
  • If you are just a casual exerciser get an app like Trails (read New York Times review), RunKeeper, or rubiTrack that function mostly as a data capture and then interfaces with a desktop or web application to catalog your routes and graph progress.