Congratulations to America’s team Oracle, who just won the prestigious America’s Cup sailing race in an absolutely thrilling finish. Not only did Team USA win against fierce competition from the Kiwis, they did so in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. To come back from being down 8 - 1 in a contest where the first one to 9 wins is unheard of. Not to mention having to overcome the adversity of a crew member dying during training and a major cheating scandal that gave them a two-race penalty.
The sailing that took place in the San Francisco Bay was one of the most exciting stories of perseverance, aggressive competition, and strategic gamesmanship that the world has seen in quite some time. And all the while I was able to track the progress with the free, interactive America’s Cup iOS app. The app kept me abreast of all the latest developments in this thrilling saga, and also got me thinking about one of my all time favorite sailing and navigation apps out there, Boat Beacon ($9.99).
If you ever use a mapping app to get you from one place to another you have probably wished at some point to be able to create a route with more than one destination. In Maps, you can create bookmarks for multiple locations and reorder them, but there isn't a way to plot more than one at a time to make a logical route from beginning to end.
Google has now released Google Maps 2.0 (free), with new features as well as a native version for the iPad. Finally! This remains a very popular alternative to the built-in Maps app from Apple, and its new features in version 2.0 such as live traffic updates and Explore make it even better. It also includes five-star ratings from users and from Zagat as well as indoor walking directions for malls, transit stations, airports, etc. Plus, unlike the previous version, you can now cache data so your maps info is available even if you don't have a live Internet connection.
Google unveiled a new version of its Maps app for Android, and in the announcement it detailed new features and said an iPhone/iPad version is coming "soon." I'm thinking it will likely be available within hours or days. Perhaps the most important feature is the apps offline features, letting you cache data for accessing the app while out of range of Wi-Fi or data. In a previous post, I noted how useful this feature in Apple Maps was during a recent trip to Germany. Also available in the new version will be automatic traffic rerouting based on congestion, accidents, etc.
I've just recently returned from a 10-day vacation in Tübingen, Germany, a university town with a remarkable and picturesque old city and castle. Many of the buildings in the old city date back to the 15th and 16th century. In preparation for the trip, I spent more than $50 on Tom Tom's navigation app for Europe, wanting to make sure I could get where I wanted to go in the city. Its offline feature was the most important for my needs, mapping info on my iPad without requiring an Internet connection. I have a Verizon LTE iPad and could have paid for data service, but it would have entailed some extra charges, and it seemed like Tom Tom, while expensive, would ultimately save me money. (Long story short: I'm currently grandfathered into a $20/month data plan with Verizon, but would have had to forego that plan if I signed up for service in Germany, and would have been forced into the $30/month data plan forever after.)
I remember when Apple premiered its version of maps. It wasn't pretty. People were upset, really upset, and I couldn't quite figure out why, because unlike the majority of my iPhone-toting brethren, I'd never used Google Maps. I first moved to Los Angeles in 1997 to pursue an acting career. I was armed with a Thomas Guide and a prayer. As a directionally challenged individual who had taken one too many a wrong turns and ended up in Compton on more than one occasion, I bought the first GPS system the moment it came on the market. Tom-Tom, Garmin, I've used them all.