Posts Tagged ‘navigation’

Google details Maps Navigation for Android, iPhone (Electronista)

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

[Editor's note: As this YouTube video shows, Google's self-branded map navigation app for their Android series of phones includes some first-for-free features like natural voice search, turn-by-turn using a street view overlay, and instant rerouting. First for the 'droids, next for the iPhones.]

Republished from electronista.

Google today provided added details of the turn-by-turn mapping service found on the Motorola Droid. Google Maps Navigation adds many of the features that would normally exist in a dedicated GPS unit, such as a bird’s-eye view and spoken directions, but takes advantage of Google’s existing Maps features. Traffic is free in those areas where Google provides service, and Street View can show directions overlaid on top of in-location photos.

Search is naturally rolled into Navigation and lets drivers use voice or typed commands to navigate to a location by search criteria rather than a specific address. Long-distance travelers can launch a search in mid-drive and find just the points of interest close to the already planned route.

Google Maps Navigation ships first on the Droid as a beta but will be available for all Android 2.0 devices. The company also says it’s cooperating with Apple to bring the feature to the iPhone through its built-in Maps tool but hasn’t given a timetable for when it expects the feature to be ready.

The unveiling is a potential coup for Google. Although RIM’s BlackBerry line and most GPS-aware Nokia phones include company-made turn-by-turn apps, these either have limited functionality or require a paid subscription to work properly. Google Maps requires an active Internet connection to download map data but is otherwise free to use where most stand-alone apps, including for the iPhone, often carry a significant initial fee and often charge extra for future map updates.

Using Wireframes to Streamline Your Development Process (Webdesigner Depot)

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

[Editor's note: Tutorial highlights tools and best practices for wireframe development with example illustrations, from the sketch to a box outline.]

Republished from Webdesigner Depot.

thumbCreating a wireframe is one of the first steps you should take before designing a website.

A wireframe helps you organize and simplify the elements and content within a website and is an essential tool in the development process.

A wireframe is basically a visual representation of content layout in a website design.

The wireframe acts as a prototype that shows the placement of page features, such as header, footer, content, sidebars, and navigation.

It also specifies the placement of the elements within these content areas. If you want to develop a site that accurately matches the client’s requirements and minimize project revisions, wireframing will keep you on track.

Best Practices

To achieve optimum results, here are several important things to keep in mind when developing a wireframe:

  • Simplicity. The key is to keep it simple enough to be clear to the client and to be flexible for the designer, but detailed enough to guide the programmer. As mentioned, you could create a high-fidelity wireframe, but doing this early in the development process could be confusing for the client, who may mistake it for a final draft.
  • Work in grayscale. When creating elements for a wireframe, it’s best to work in grayscale so that you can focus on the layout without being distracted by the design. If you have been given a full-color logo, convert it to grayscale as well. To distinguish between and categorize various elements, show shapes and outlines in different shades of gray.
  • Use wireframes in tandem with a sitemap. A wireframe is a visual representation of a good sitemap, not a replacement. A sitemap is a useful tool for any website and would definitely be helpful to refer to during the development process.
  • Focus on the desired outcome. Have a clear understanding of how your client wants users to respond to the page before creating your wireframe. The calls to action should be very clear simply from looking at the wireframe.
  • Create a full-sized wireframe if it is for a website. This will give the most accurate representation of the actual page.
  • Plan the elements by securing the content in advance. In a best-case scenario, your client will have already supplied you with the elements that should appear on each page, such as the logo, ads, Flash or video players, features, navigation sections, and sidebar, header, and footer elements. If you do not have this information yet, meet with your client and get (or create) a sitemap. If you are re-designing existing elements, you can gather them from a careful review of the website. In this scenario, be sure to first confirm with your client that you will not be required to add or remove elements, because not having a clear understanding of their expectations will slow down the process.

Continue reading at Webdesigner Depot . . .

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.

Directional Signage (Kelso)

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

A friend sent me this photo from her recent trip to Paris where directional signage is plentiful and useful. Signs like these are visual breadcrumbs that give verbal statements to direct or confirm navigational actions at the human scale on the street. Even when you’ve got Google Maps on your iPhone such signs are still useful :)

See related post: Wayfinding: Here, Even Icons Need IDs . . .

Turn-By-Turn Voice Navigation Comes to Jailbroken iPhones (Gizmodo)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

[Editor's note: Not for the faint of hear, but great proof of concept of what the iPhone is capable of.]

Republished from Gizmodo.
By John Herrman
Original: 5:13 AM  on Feb 11 2009

Six months after the App Store was launched, the iPhone app gray market lives on: turn-by-turn navigation has come to jailbroken iPhones in the form of xGPS. UPDATED

xGPS uses Google’s map data and driving directions, adding a real-time navigation readout and a voice engine. You can also select a map area to download ahead of time, just in case you expect to lose your data connection during the drive. As you can see in ModMyi‘s video above, the app also supports a number of external GPS units, so 1st-gen iPhone and iPod Touch users can get in on the monotone fun too.

The project has been gestating for a few months now, but many vital features, including the voice engine, weren’t implemented until this release. xGPS 1.2 is now will soon be available in Cydia. UPDATE: An older version without vocalization in current available in the repositories, but the newest version is expected to be publicly available within the week. [xGPS via ModMyiThanks, Aleksey!]

iPhone + National Park = Request for Proposals (Kelso)

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Attention iPhone software developers! The National Park Service is soliciting proposals to create a National Mall mobile wayfinding protoype, otherwise known as an iPhone app!

It is a rather ambitious, forward-looking  project that will depend on the contractor to propose technological and design solutions. The product would serve as a template for creating similar products of other urban park sites.

The request originates out of the Harpers Ferry, WV office of the Park Service. Check out the full solicitation with contact information.

Excerpts from the Solicitation and Scope of Work documents:

Independently, and not as an agent of the government, the contractor shall provide all labor, equipment, materials and services necessary to conceptualize, design, produce, test, and install a fully functional mobile wayfinding prototype of the National Mall in accordance with the attached Scope of Work consisting of 15 pages.

The NPS recognizes that creating a mobile map prototype is a new, complex, and highly specialized undertaking that requires expertise in numerous disciplines, including cartography, database development, interface design, interactive programming, 3-D modeling, wireless networking, mobile phone application development, etc. The mobile map prototype envisioned for the National Mall is perhaps the first of its kind.

The National Mall is the heart of the Nation’s Capital and of the entire United States of America. Here, the nation celebrates, honors, and demonstrates its commitment to democracy.

The Mall stretches 2.2 miles from the grounds of the United States (U.S.) Capitol west to the Potomac River, and from the Tidal Basin north to Constitution Avenue. It is home to the great symbols of our country—national icons such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. It also includes memorials to the veterans of Vietnam, the Korean War, and World War II, as well as lesser-known memorials to American heroes, such as the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, George Mason, and John Paul Jones. The National Mall also boasts beautiful open spaces such as the Tidal Basin, where the blossoming of thousands of cherry trees heralds spring.

Over 25 million people visit the Mall each year with 60% arriving by public transport and traversing the park on foot.

Site navigation by pedestrians in urban national parks in general is a long-standing problem. For example, at the National Mall, visitors emerging from a Washington Metro subway station into bright sunlight first must orient themselves before setting off to their destination. Finding lesser-known sites scattered throughout the Mall, such as the John Ericsson Memorial, is a challenge despite the availability of paper maps, wayside exhibits, signs, and other traditional media. The growing popularity of smart mobile devices – devices with GPS, Internet connectivity, touch-screen interfaces, and powerful graphics capabilities – promises a solution to this problem.

Applications are due by 02/12/2009. Looks like the Park Service would like to roll out a final app (free in the iTunes story? they don’t say) by next year in January (2010). Fixed Price contact to the software developer. Get coding!

Mapping and GPS on the iPhone, Part 2

Monday, July 21st, 2008

apple iphone image

This is a followup to my earlier post on Mapping and GPS on the iPhone. I’ll continue to post updates when more GPS navigation category apps are made available.

An update to AirMe: it now uploads the EXIF information’s Lat/Long with the photo to Flickr so the images can be viewed placed on a map with high fidelity.

TIP 1: Take screenshots on the iPhone by holding the power button and then pressing and releasing the home button. The screen will flash and capture into your Photo "Camera Roll" in an email form.

TIP 2: To add .com or .gov or .edu to anything you’re typing hold down the . (period) button and slide over the context menu that appears to the correct entry and then release your finger.

TIP 3: If you don’t want to be disturbed by the phone buzzing with emails or calls in the wee hours of the night turn it to Airplane safe mode. The alarm will still sound.

FIRST UP:
G-Spot for iPhone ($2)

This is the app that will give you a read out of all the basic GPS stats the iPhone produces. This includes Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, Heading, Speed, Accuracy, and Time. It also has a few other nifty features. The same folks make another tool to make it easier to find your car in large parking lots or unfamiliar ‘hoods. They also sell GPS kits for first generation iPhones.

g spot for iphone

The Compass:

Shows you what direction you are currently heading [NVK: must be in moving in trajectory to be "accurate"]

Spot Me:

A shortcut to pinpointing your current location instantly in Google Maps.

Also creates a log of most recent locations.

Share:

Instantly email your current location. The email contains a link that when clicked, takes you into Google Maps and shows your exact location. Friends trying to find where you’re at? Hit “Share” and email it to them, they can pull your exact location right up and get directions.

Info:

Latitude, Longitude, Altitude, Heading, Speed, Accuracy, Date and Time of the most recent location update.

NEXT UP:
GeoHash (free)

No idea what the date sliders do but it reports out the latitude and longitude simply and fast. Link to see the current location on a map. Can get the same thing by using the map your current location in the default maps app from Apple.

geo hash iphone

NEXT UP:
Nav Clock ($2)

nav clock

Nav Clock is based upon those multi-function executive desk clocks that you see on people’s desks in their offices.

FEATURES

  • Location aware. Weather information is displayed from actual weather conditions in your vicinity.
  • The background photography changes based upon the actual current sky conditions and the current time of day in your vicinity.
  • Original photography of various sky conditions.

  • Automatically displays the offset from Greenwich Mean Time, aviation “Zulu” time, and the geographic coordinates for your location.

NEXT UP:
Sun Compass ($1)


sun compas

Sun Compass is an iPhone / iPod Touch application. Its main purpose is to help you find North using the position of the Sun or the Moon. It’s not super brilliant, but might get you out of a pinch considering the iPhone doesn’t have a real magnetic compass built in.

How to use

  1. Check your location, time and date.
  2. Find the sun or the moon in the sky.
  3. Align the compass.

Place your iPod / iPhone horizontally, facing up. Drag the compass or rotate the iPod / iPhone so that the sun arrow points to the sun.

CONTINUING into the astro rhelm:
GeoSkyWatch Planetarium ($10)

geo sky watch

Astronomy on the iPhone/iPod touch. Never have to wonder again what is in the night sky. GoSkyWatch easily locates and identifies planets, stars and constellations. Navigate the sky with a touch or by just pointing to the sky for quick identification. Go outside and explore the night sky.

Features:

  • Accelerometer based finder – just point and identify
  • Planet, constellation and star finder
  • Built in database of all stars visible to the naked eye
  • Star and planet brightness and distance display
  • Constellation boundaries, images and patterns
  • Easy setup using iPhone location or from city list
  • Select view seen for any time or location in the world
  • Full support of touch gestures to navigate the sky
  • Night mode for night viewing

It’s pretty cool :)

And a final teaser: This site shows software in development for the 1st generation iPhone. Involves quite a bit of hacking but shows promise for more advanced mapping software.

Map panning and zooming methods in Flash (Cartogrammar)

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Reprinted from Cartogrammar’s blog (original post from June 29):

Following last week’s post on losing context with interactive maps, I wanted to consider the different methods of navigating an interactive map (i.e., panning and zooming) and how they might affect that issue, and while I’m at it look at other aspects of these methods, too.

A great place to start is the 2005 paper by my now co-mappers Mark Harrower and Ben Sheelsey called Designing Better Map Interfaces: A Framework for Panning and Zooming.* (A PDF is available on Professor Harrower’s web site.) In that paper they discuss criteria for evaluating panning and zooming methods, namely functionality and efficiency, and then go on to present and evaluate nine common methods of panning and zooming. With respect to my previous post, it is a lack of what they call “local-global orientation cues” that can lead to the “navigational trauma” of losing context.

Below are small demos of eight of the nine methods listed by Harrower and Sheesley, along with their thoughts and mine on functionality and efficiency as well as a word or two on the prior subject of maintaining context. (For simplicity I’ve left zooming out of most of those demos where it would be accomplished via separate interface widgets.) 

 

 

 Known sometimes as “slippy maps” (from OpenStreetMap?), maps with this kind of panning interaction are the standard these days in the big online mapping services from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.

Pros: No pesky tools or interface to deal with, and the action is natural and mimics real life manipulation of tangible objects.

Cons: High mouse mileage—you’ve got to move your mouse every bit as far as you want the map to move.

Context: There are no inherent orientation cues, so with this method alone you’d have to mentally keep track of the map’s movements. There is, however, an advantage of methods that directly jump from place to place.

Continue reading at Cartogrammar to see more examples . . . 

Adam @ Home – Extreme GPS Navigation

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

My grandmother clips comics out of the SJ Merc for me and slips them into the envelope with her correspondence. This week’s letter featured Adam @ Home. Not sure if The Post prints this one, but who has time to read that rag? ;)

Adam @ Home - Go one block north, turn left into park, proceed 120 paces, turn right at duck pond…