Thursday, March 25, 2010

Magellan RoadMate App for iPhone for the USA

Nipping at the heels of Google’s evil plan to decimate the navigation industry, Magellan joined the iPhone app party with a new GPS app last year. The application basically replicates the functionality of a typical Magellan PND, right down to the interface. In fact, rather than give the Magellan iPhone app an ‘Apple-y’ look, Magellan chose to stick to its own look, right down to replacing the iPhone keyboard. Features include turn-by-turn directions with spoken street names, 3D landmarks, lane guidance, a “Find My Car” GPS function, address book integration, in-app music controls, a pedestrian mode, and Magellan’s OneTouch feature that places oft-used features within one tap of the touchscreen.

Magellan GPS today announced availability of the Magellan RoadMate App for iPhone for the United States and Puerto Rico.The Magellan RoadMate App for iPhone uses the same award-winning interface as our dedicated personal navigation devices. Best of all, the app is a one-time purchase with no recurring subscription fees.

The Magellan RoadMate App for iPhone also works on the iPod touch (2nd generation) with the required Magellan Premium Car Kit (sold separately).Feature highlights include:
* Spoken street name guidance* Highway lane assist
* In-app music control
* iPhone address book integration
* Pedestrian Mode
* Most current maps provided by NAVTEQ

Available at iTunes App store, the United States only app is available at an introductory price of $39.99.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Magellan eXplorist GC geocaching GPS handset

The Magellan eXplorist GC is a new GPS handset designed to cache in on geocaching, a hobby for people who own their own waterproof trousers. It boasts a SiRFstarIII GPS chipset for 3-metre accuracy, and integrates with the Web to track down secret stashes hidden by fellow geocachers.

Geocaching is a 21st-century cross between orienteering and Anneka Rice running around the countryside. Geocachers search for GPS co-ordinates posted online and uncover secret stashes hidden in the real world. Each hidden container usually holds a log book in which you record the time you found the cache, and items you can swap out such as coins or toys. Items that are moved from cache to cache are called 'hitchhikers'. Non-geocachers are dorkily charmingly referred to as 'muggles'.

The GC integrates with, a leading site for intrepid Johnny and June Caches. You download cache instructions to the handset via USB so you don't have to print them out, then head off into the wilderness with them on the colour screen. It's also pre-loaded with popular geocaches. You can add waypoints and notes, and when you locate caches, the GC will record your accomplishments -- gotta cache 'em all.

Magellan claims two AA-batteries will give you 18 hours of running up hill and down dale. Seeing as most days we can't find our own keys, we'd probably need to pack some spares.

The Magellan eXplorist GC will be available in the US in April for $200, and includes a free 30-day membership to

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Apple iPhone or Motorola Droid: Which one is better GPS capability wise?

Smart phones come equipped with built in GPS. So now it can be not be an excuses if one turns up late. Exactly, that’s what we are trying to explore. Smart phone’s destination navigation application will help you to get to your destination faster.

We now try to find out which of the two best smartphones is better. One we have picked is Apple iPhone and the other competitor is Motorola Droid. Both have one thing in common. Yes, both can handle serious computing tasks and robust processors. What’s more both have GPS receivers which work with GPS Navigation application.

But, here in the difference starts. While, the Droid has Google Maps navigation system in built in it for Android 2.0, the iPhone has its GPS tool as the TomTom which is a $100 download. Testing the Droid and the iPhone different styles were applied. First a destination was entered, that of San Francisco. Then riding a vehicle we tried varied streets, taking wrong turns deliberately. Keeping a close view on each unit and which route is the faster one the entourage helped us to find an effective direction and also an effective instruction.

Android Google Maps Navigation

TomTom iPhone application has a better navigation program. But, Google's Android navigation software is right inside the phone's application. Its available in Android 2.0-based Motorola Droid, Google Maps navigation has percolated to Android 1.6. A new outlook for Verizon-connected Droid was tested. There was a difference, this gives a bird's-eye view of the current location right from the start. To begin navigation, one can begin by just tapping on the Directions. Then on, a field comes up to enter destination. There are options whether you want to navigate by car, by public transit, or on foot. Pedestrian navigation and navigation in a car can be quite different. Having the option to use such modes is a huge advantage for Google Maps. What’s more the ability to automatically show you the complete route and give perfect information gives the best navigation experience.

iPhone TomTom

TomTom costs around $100 which is exorbitant, but it gives iphone an edge in comparison with other GPS devices. The inbuilt program supports the iPhone 3G and 3GS, also can be used in iPod touch while TomTom car kit is also helpful. This application has 1.3 GB built-in-memory and also tests the 16 GB unit. TomTom gets to use the iPhone's 480-by-320 touchscreen to the fullest, offering voice-guided navigation with both 2D and 3D maps. Meanwhile, on the road, TomTom's 3D maps give a clear view of the route that one should follow. The voice guide has useful information about the distance left, so that one knows which is the shortest route. Though, in narrow alleys one faced some problems in knowing the actual place.

The Droid, however, had no complaints of loss in signals, and kept on navigating without interruption. It was quite evident that TomTom for iPhone was less effective than the Droid's application in guiding through difficult places through a scity.
Users opting for the TomTom Car Kit should experience a better GPS environment. The car kit has its own GPS module, one that's superior to the iPhone's.

Which one is Better?

Both TomTom for iPhone and Google Maps for Android are very good GPS tools. But, it was not hard to choose a winner. The Droid gives smooth navigation experience which the iPhone doesn’t manage to do. TomTom's 3D map images are simple but Droid has higher resolution display. The Droid defeats the iPhone in giving the right refreshing directions and also compensates for wrong turns. In the end, Android’s navigation tool was simply superior giving better count on the price range too.

The two devices that we compared had varied results. Judging the efficiency an agreement was reached that Droid's choice of routes was better than the iPhone's.While both devices offer voice directions, Droid's directions to the iPhone's, had much more clarity. However, iPhone gives better distance information. Droid was also miles ahead in pronouncing street names than the iPhone.

Maybe Apple iPhone 4G, the next generation much talked about iPhone will have something better that Motorola Droid.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

Geosense brings GPS-free location awareness to Windows 7

Two of my favorite Windows tinkerers -- Rafael Rivera and Long Zheng -- got tired of waiting for someone, somewhere to make use of Windows 7's cool, built-in sensor support. Rather than twiddle their thumbs like certain non-coders who are writing about them (read: me), they decided to do something about it.

Enter Geosense, a free download for Windows 7 which allows you to activate location awareness on your system without the need for GPS hardware.

Once it's installed, you'll be able to make use of geolocation features in various apps. Granted, the list is pretty short right now. The Geosense site only mentions MahTweets (a Twitter client), their own Google Maps demo app, and the built-in weather gadget in Windows 7.

Geosense works nicely, and I can't wait for location-aware apps to do things like automatically switch my default printer when I cart my laptop from home to work. Hopefully this will give app developers a kick in the pants and we'll see some more cool apps soon.

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GPS: Great - if you already know

If you already know where you are going, an in-car GPS unit can be helpful, and fun. But there are limitations to Global Positioning Satellite units. One of our riders received one at Christmas fand have been trying it out, intermittently.

I haven't yet had to go to a totally new area of the country. I did go to some new (for me) homes and businesses in our area. I programmed things, buzzed along, and tried them out. Here are some observations:

* Pronounciations are a hoot: "Doo-BWAH," for "DOO-Boys," "BrookVEAL" for "BROOKville," "Hahzen" for "Hazen," "Belephant" for "BELLEfonte," etc. Around here, that's amusing, not confusing. I know what the computerized voice means to say. But in Arkansas, I might find it disconcerting to hear a mispronounced name while driving at 65 mph, because I might mis-hear it as a wrong name and slam on the brakes.

* Danger: "Shortest route" vs. "fastest time" settings. From our house outside Brookville to the newspaper office in DuBois, the GPS followed my usual route, including 22 miles on Interstate 80. But en route back home, it kept telling me to get off I-80 at Route 830, the DuBois/Jefferson County Airport. The computer was accurate - but not correct. Getting off at the airport positions me to take the "shortest route" - over hills and dales to Hazen, then Richardsville, then home. In summer, fine. In winter ... I would be stuck for a week. I changed the "shortest" preference, and also increased the computer's likelihood of keeping us on paved roads and freeways.

* At our house, and at the home of our friends in Knox Dale, the driveways are on our left. But the computer says "Your destination is on the right." Umm ... that's where our mailbox is.

* If coming south to our house from Warren, the GPS (and also Mapquest) tell you to turn right from Route 36, onto Park Road. That's a dirt, township-maintained road with three steep hills. It is "plowed" only sporadically in wintertime. In springtime, it's a mud bog. If it doesn't look right, it probably isn't.

* The college kids who drove every single road to make the original maps used by GPS sometimes got it wrong. Going home, I turn off Route 36 onto Caldwell Corners Road. A quarter-mile later, Caldwell Corners bears to the right at a "Y." To the left is Ferguson Road. But the GPS tells me to turn left off Route 36 - onto Ferguson Road, and only at the Y does it mention Caldwell Corners Road. My guess: The original route-mapper followed Ferguson Road from its other end, and thought it ran all the way to Route 36. PennDOT and the Postal Service, however, say that the before-the-Y stretch is Caldwell Corners Road. I know the area, so no harm. But if in unfamiliar territory, I might have said bad words.

My friend and his wife, in Vermont in winter, found themselves in deep snow, following tracks made not by a car, not by a 4x4 SUV or truck - but by an all-terrain vehicle! Not a good situation in a low-slung car with all-season tires. The GPS unit has a wealth of information: Gas stations, food, scenic points of interest, etc. It can also plan "multi-stop" trips, handy if (1) you actually plan to have multiple stops, or (2) you want to go by a different route than the GPS is likely to suggest. When visiting kids-in-law in New Jersey, we dislike the GPS route through downtown Philadelphia. So we program Brookville-Hazelton, Hazelton-Norristown, Norristown-Burlington, N.J., Burlington-Mt.Laurel to get us around it.

But if we were going where we had never gone before, we wouldn't have thought of doing that - unless we had looked at a 20th Century thing, a ... map. I still carry a road atlas in every vehicle,. That way, if the GPS tells us to go north (as it does for one two-mile stretch on the above-mentioned trip) when our destination is clearly south, I at least know to question it, or check it out. In this instance, the GPS would be correct; we go north for two miles in order to connect with southbound I-295.

I do love the GPS's automatic-reset capability. When, en route home, I breeze past the Route 830/airport turnoff. The computer calmly recalculates, and doesn't even yell at me. In urban State College, the GPS was wonderful for rerouting us back to a restaurant or a store - IF we had pre-programmed an address.

My coworker reports that, near the Las Vegas airport, GPS got him stuck in 12-mile loops looking for a road that had been closed. His solution on his next trip? Ask a few human beings at the airport about new construction! Just pass the turn that is not correct, and use the re-routing, he suggests.

I still marvel at the fact that the computer knows precisely where our car is, by linking up with a satellite some 22,000 miles up in space. Then again ... so does Big Brother. So do a Predator drone and its guided missiles. So that's how the Taliban feels these days, huh? Good.

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Raytheon Wins Next-Gen GPS Award

The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base has awarded the Next Generation GPS Control Segment (OCX) program to Raytheon Intelligence & Information Systems of Aurora, Colo.

Raytheon beat a rival Northrop Grumman team for the $886 million, 73-month development contract, which represents the first two OSX development blocks.

The contract will include development and installation of hardware and software at GPS control stations at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, deployment of advanced monitor stations at remote sites and initial contractor support with sustainment options for five years that could bring the total award value to more than $1.53 billion.

OCX replaces the current GPS ground segment, and will be capable of managing new GPS IIF and GPS III spacecraft as well as older Block IIR and IIR-M spacecraft.

“OCX is urgently needed not only to enable new warfighter capabilities but also to put the new GPS III space vehicles into mission operations,” said Col. Dave Madden, commander of the Global Positioning Systems Wing. The first GPS III launch is targeted for 2014.

Within the next six months the OSX program will hold an Integrated Baseline Review to establish the performance baseline for the effort. Block 1 is set to be delivered in 2015, with Block II to follow in 2016.

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