iPhone Life magazine

Apps: Navigation

iExit — $2.99 app tells you info about upcoming exits

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How many times have you been driving down the highway and taken an exit only to find that there’s nothing in the nearby commercial district to your liking? iExit can help. Start up the app, and it uses GPS to quickly determine where you are and what direction you’re traveling. It then offers information about the upcoming exits, as well as information about your favorite places to stop that are coming up. Plus, it tells you where to turn once you get to the exit and provides maps.

 



Aha Radio — free app delivers web content as streaming radio while you drive

This is a novel idea. You're driving, yet you still would like to access your Facebook friends updates, Twitter tweets, podcasts, and more. Aha Radio (free) turns it all into radio stations so that you can listen to this content as you drive. Plus, it gives you reports on nearby traffic based on your location.



At Macworld: INRIX Traffic Cuts Down on Downtime

INRIX TRAFFIC! was given the Macworld 2010 Best of Show award.  This isn't your normal navigation app.  It's used to predict your travel time on your normal routes based on real-time and historic data. It lets you know when to leave to reach your destination at your desired time.



Use MobileAppLoader.com to Build Your iPhone App

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I recently had the chance to chat with Zvika Ashkenazi, the CEO of MobileAppLoader.com and I was able to learn some very interesting things about his company, the services it provides and I also learned how to track App Store sales.

Zvika sent me a graphic detailing January 2010 metrics for DIY iPhone apps. According to the graphic, MobileAppLoader was responsible for creating 436 apps for their customers which include realtors, auto dealers, restaurants, and hotels to name just a few categories.

As you know from my previous posts here, a number of companies have launched in the last year or so to help people and businesses create their own applications, not just for iPhones, but also for other platforms like Android and Windows Mobile. Previously, this sort of service was unheard of. If one wanted software developed, it could get pretty pricey. For large corporations, this was considered 'the cost of business', but for individuals and smaller companies, personalized or customized software was often out of reach.

Now, some people themselves are talented programmers themselves and can make their own apps. Some companies have developers on staff, while some companies can afford to hire an outside developer for a specific project  - at a cost of $5,000 to $25,000 - to develop an application from scratch, that kind of budget is out of the reach for many people. Of course, one can get it for less, but even so, a ball-park bargain-basement sort of figure is still around $2,500. And most aren't looking to create super-sophisticated software, and don't really need to consider spending that sort of money anyway.

At the present time, MobileAppLoader claims that they are the #1 Do-It-Yourself iPhone App company. These stats do not include companies which build apps from RSS feeds or companies with less than 30 apps. Zvika explained that he generated this information by typing the name of the developer into iTunes. Now that I know how to do this, I anticipate hours of fun

Since MobileAppLoader doesn't build their apps via RSS feeds, I was curious as to their process. It's done by what Zvika described as a unique "App in a Snap" Wizard. A user signs up for an account on their site, and selects their business category. Then they chose a design from Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold offerings and upload four images and type in certain details (contact info, URLs, feeds, text, etc...) and finally hits 'submit'. Behind the scenes, the content is then converted to a native iPhone app using objective-C using the Apple X-code development tool, and that process is then followed by a a quick quality assurance to make sure everything is working properly before the app is sent to Apple for review.

Apps built from RSS feeds can be very handy, but MobileAppLoader is very proud of the real-time interactivity of the apps they build using this method. For example, they've built a number of apps for towing companies and the apps include the ability to tell the towing company where you've broken down, show them a picture of your car and ask them to come and get you. So the app makes use of notifications, GPS and the camera. And that's just one example. Auto dealer apps include the ability of the dealer to notify a customer of their next service appointment. Prices start at $59.99 for setup and $4.99 a month.

 



Touch And Go…

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In case you were not aware, TomTom and Magellan have previously released versions of their GPS car kit that turns your iPod Touch into a navigation device, as well as making their GPS software compatible with it. One of the downsides is the cost, as it can be argued that you can buy a standalone GPS unit for much less. Cost may not be an issue for those wanting to add more functionality to their device but one of the drawbacks I see is that their car kits are for in car use only via the car power adaptor. In my opinion, this limits some of the payback use / value, especially if you only need GPS navigation occasionally.



Waze — free navigation app offers holiday treasure hunt

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Waze is a neat app that not only offers GPS navigation but also uses "crowdsourcing" to help make available real-time traffic updates. Users can send alerts as they drive so that others can avoid problems. The recently released holiday version of Waze offers a holiday theme with a treasure hunt that gives you the opportunity to win real prizes. According to their press release, they added what they call "road goodies" – small icons worth bonus points – to the map in areas where the waze system has identified map problems.



Park'n Find — $0.99 app remembers where you parked

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There's not much need for this in Fairfield, Iowa, but if I were a city guy I'd depend heavily on this app. Am I the sort of person who'd forget where he parked his car? Not really, but I'm the sort of guy who worries that he will forget where he parked his car. An app like this lets you relax and forget. Park'n Find uses GPS to mark where your car is parked. It then guides you back to your parking location using a satellite image that automatically pans and zooms to show where your car is parked relative to where you are. You can optionally attach photos, voice memos, and notes.



Waze — free GPS "social navigation" app

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I badly want Waze to be a success because the idea is just so perfect: a free navigation app that integrates user-generated traffic information. So, you're stuck in traffic someplace, you whip our your iPhone, and let the world know that they ought to take a different route if they're traveling the same road that you are. It's a wonderful example of crowdsourcing. The trick is to get lots of people to use it. And increasingly people are. But if you live someplace where there's not much coverage, the app has less value than other places where it's really caught on.



Spyglass — use your iPhone like binoculars, with augmented reality compass and GPS

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Spyglass ($0.99) is yet another creative use of your iPhone's camera. You can view your environment via the iPhone camera and digitally zoom in in up to 5x. In addition, the app uses augmented reality to superimpose compass and GPS information as well as horizon tilt right over the live camera feed. You can also enable the maps feature and have the same information superimposed on a map.You'll need an iPhone 3Gs plus an Internet connection to use the maps feature.



iTunes App Store undergoing subtle but significant changes... with some difficulty

 If you've been paying close attention, as most developers do, to the App Store, you may have noticed some changes.

  1. New Releases only show BRAND NEW apps, i.e. version 1.0
  2. Updates are not included in the New Releases

This is potentially a good thing for users but there are some downsides.

The good news is, you won't have to search through old apps to find new gems.  It might also discourage developers from submitting minor updates just to be featured on the New Releases page.  That will also cut down on approval time as fewer apps need to be reviewed.



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