Friday, August 22, 2008

The iPhone blog commenting SDK related issues

TiPB published a post about SDK agreements just yesterday. It addresses some quite interesting issues in the involvement amongst Google (Maps) and their map data providers Tele Atlas and Navteq.
I also mentioned those issues in a comment to a post recently, but TiPB had an in-depth look.

I still can't decide if this is a pro or con TomTom, so read (and judge) for yourself. It is quite interesting and worth reading ;)

Six weeks of iPhone 3G: a balance

So, it has been six week since the launch of iPhone 3G and App Store. What did developers come up with until now?

Some time, when I browse the App Store for new applications, I thing "oh great, just another speedometer app". After an initial enthusiasm things became boring somehow. Now, that's because there are
  • 6 Speedometers and
  • 8 "Mail my position" apps.
So, that's what's good on the iPhone? That's what people want? Speedometers and mailing where they are? I don't think so, not at all...

Well, competition may be good, but this is a little too much, I think (If you want to have a real choice, have a look at "tip calculators"! There are like a hundred of them or so...).

There are also good examples of proper GPS applications, and maybe one more might not hurt anybody. Those are:
  • Geopher Lite (Geocaching app)
  • GPS Kit (Does almost all a proper GPS does, e.g. a Garmin geko)
  • GPS Compass which is sort of a light version of GPS Kit ;-)
  • Path Tracker and Snail Trail (which do tracking and export)
We (or at least I) want more of that! Not just another stupid Speedometer...

Path tracking with Snail Trail

Snail Trail is another path tracking app for your iPhone. You can suspend tracking (by hitting the home button) and later on continue. It also features waypoints that can be added. Export is done by mail, you can hit the "email coordinates" button and a mail with a Google Earth KML file attatchment will be sent to the mail address provided. It's priced 0.99$

It's basically the same as Path Tracker, which I do like more for its looks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Turn-by-turn-Navigation on the iPhone!

Well, don't get over-excited, but there really is such a software! It is called FreeMap and if you speak hebrew and live in Israel, this might be really cool for you. If you don't it still might show you what is possible if you just don't care about the SDK agreements and you warranty ;-)

There is a Wiki that says something about Cydia and sorce, I guess this is about installing their beta version on the iPhone 3G. Unfortunately, my hebrew isn't that good, so I don't have a clue...
Unfortunately, the source isn't working at this time, so I can't even try it.

A demo video can be seen here.


I stand corrected - obviously, you don't need to have reception of a cellular network in order to receieve GPS positional info. I don't know if this was changed in firmware 2.0.1, but nevertheless, it works!

Until now, all I did was some tests using different SIM modules and the flight mode. The obvious thing, just testing it without a SIM, didn't come to my mind (probably because you just can't run most mobile phones without one).

Well, yesterday I tested my iPhone without using a SIM, and - behold - there was GPS! I checked that there was no cellular reception, using the cellular network monitor (dialling *3001#12345#*).
So it seems that Apple disables anything that has to do with radio using the flight mode, even GPS. The funny thing is, though, that you still can enable WiFi using the flight mode, but there is no way to do so with GPS.

So, sorry to all of whom I might have confused, cellular network reception is of no matter to GPS on the iPhone.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

iNavX: a chart plotter for the iPhone

I have to admit that I've somehow missed iNavX until now, because it is available trough the US App Store at this time.

Anyway, iNavX is a chart plotter for marine charts. Not only plots it your position on the chart in real time, it also provides navigation info like heading, speed and so on. Waypoints are also supported, of course.

The maps used are being downloaded from the NOAA servers but then stored locally on the iphone. There is no way to download your own maps for usage on the phone.

It's nice to see that, maybe in the future, there might be navigation apps for outdoor activists, that use topographical maps. Perhaps something like the Ozi Explorer CE, who knows?
At this time, it seems likely that you will have a "pair" of applications, one to prepare the maps and data on your computer and the other to display them on your iPhone.

Earthscape Basic brings Google Earth to iPhone

Earthscape has launched an application named Earthscape Basic trough App Store. It is an application very similar to Google Earth on normal computers like your PC or Mac. Altough it is not mentioned anywhere, it seems quite likely that the origin of the data is Google Earth.

The promotional video looks very promising, it seems to run quite fast on the iPhone. Many Wikipedia geotagged locations are linked to the surface, being displayed as a "W" icon. Tapping those icons will open the Wikipedia link in Safari.

This looks like a handy tool if you are somewhere unfamiliar and you ask yourself "What's that hill over there?". Well, pop up Earthscape and look it up! ;-)

pwnage impact on GPS

Disclaimer: I don't want you to "pwn" your iPhone. Pwnage is bad! It will void your warranty, Steve Jobs will loose weight because you do so and for every millionth iPhone pwned some wacko will torch the Apple facilities. So, just don't, okay?

Still, there might be reasons why a pwned iPhone might be interesting regarding GPS usage. First of all, there is an App that allows you to use Google Maps offline, but this might be interesting to those without an unlimited data plan only.

Then there is an App called "Insomnia". All it does is preventing the iPhone from going into suspend after the screen is switched off, thus allowing e.g. a tracking applikation like Path Tracker to track your journey after the iPhones screen was switched off. This might save some energy, but as the iPhone isn't able to suspend, it will still drown your battery.

Last but not least there is an application that is able to backup your program data, allowing to keep information stored after an update trough App Store. This isn't really a GPS related application, but still might be helpful.

Yeah, this is what you might get if you would pwn the iPhone. But, I'm sure you wouldn't. (At least, don't say I made you do so and especially don't blame me if something went wrong!)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Will TomTom be available soon?

gigaom reports that TomTom, again, said that their mobile navigation app is ready to roll. They say:

“We have made our navigation system run on the iPhone; it looks good and works very well,” a TomTom spokesperson wrote us in a statement. “We will have to look more closely to Apple’s strategy before we can say more about what kind of opportunities this will bring us.”

Well, TomTom, don't look, just do it! ;-)

In other news, not only TomTom and Telenav, but also Garmin and Magellan are said to be interested in the iPhone. Garmin say they "don’t have any announcements regarding the iPhone at this time". Small wonder, considering the nüvifone.
But still, Turn-by-turn is said to arrive this year! Some issues about the SDK are also mentioned in this article, so go and have a look ;)

TeleNav seems to be working on an iPhone version of their software since the SDK was released and were able to create an application that works quite well on the iPhone.
I don't know how long it takes to develop an application as compex as TeleNavs navigator, but maybe the problem is just that the SDK was released to late for navigation software developers to come up with a solution in time (on Launch of the iPhone).
We're just a month away from the launch of iPhone 3G, so we should just relax a bit ;-)

GPS Kit turning the iPhone into a proper GPS unit

So, finally someone made a proper GPS application, turning your iPhone 3G into a GPS receiver with features similar to e.g. a Garmin geko series.

It features a customizable dashboard as well as track and waypoint recording. The data collected can be sent via email. There's no word about the data formats used, but the description suggests that it might be in Google Earth kml/kmz format.

What it still lacks is a compass/waypoint goto screen and the ability to use routes. The latter might be missing because of the SDK agreements, but a compass screen that virtually all GPS units feature would be really really nice ;)

All you can get on the homepage is a video that gives you a hard time trying not to get seasick while watching. The application is priced 9,99 US$

I'm really glad to see that there is not just another "Here I am" or just another "Speedometer" pointless app... Good work, Garafa, keep it up!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Epoch Times claims Navizon to have iPhone software

Epoch Times claims that Navizon has, like TeleNav and TomTom, a navigation software ready to roll. This is kind of interesting as I haven't heard of this before. First of all, I thought that it was claimed by mistake, because the article itself has some other quite funny mistakes in int...

But then, as you go to the download page, yes, the iPhone is mentioned! Unfortunately, you have to have it jailbroken, as it seems. Also, the installation manual is dated 26/03/2008, so it will very likely NOT run on an iPhone 2.0.

Beside all this, Navizon doesn't provide Turn-by-Turn navigation after all...

iPhone 2.0.1 causing GPS problems?

There are rumors about 2.0.1 causing GPS problems. Those problems seem to be quite similar to those reported on 2.0, not being able to get a fix with 3G enabled or the phone "up" for a time.

At least, that is what forum posts suggest what it is.

Unfortunately, I don't have no 3G reception at my workplace, so I can't check that issue, but I'll keep an eye on that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

[Update] Path Tracker 1.1 available

Path Tracker 1.1 has been approved by Apple and is available trough App Store now. The author warned us to use Path Tracker 1.0, but as it seems, 1.1 is ready to use.

Unfortunately, the most interesting features like GPX and KML export are yet to come (in version 1.2, which has already been submitted to Apple). Still, I'm going to have a look at it and I'll see what it can do and what it can't. So, stay tuned ;)

Update: I'm sorry to say so, but Path Tracker isn't worth it, not even in 1.1 and not even at its price. That Path Tracker will only track while the phone is not in sleep mode (the screen lit) was kind of obvious, but beside this, the application keeps on crashing... so, let's wait for 1.2, which, according to the author, has already been released to Apple for approval.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Apple's Core Location remote disabling feature

Engadget reports that Jonathan Zdziarski might have gotten it a little wrong and that this "feature" implemented into Core Location is "just" meant to empower Apple to disable Core Location remotely for certain apps.

But still, what for? Somehow, this (still) doesn't make any sense to me. Applications are being tested before they are released to App Store (in theory). So, no "harmful" application should be installed on the iPhone in the first place.
If there was need to prevent a certain application from being used, Apple could simply revoke the certificate. So Apple should be on the safe side anyway, one should think.

But this remote "feature" suggests that there is a need for a navigation application to be disabled instantaneous. Why??

If you have any idea why this might be needed, feel free to leave a comment.

new URL

As from now, this blog can also be read using That's it ;)

Remote kill of GPS apps possible!

Jonathan Zdziarski, the guy who discovered the possibility to blacklist applications trough Apple that was hidden somewhere in the Core Location framework, was able to kill any application that actually uses GPS.

"With a little DNS spoofing, I've managed to feed my own list into the iPhone and effectively kill any application that attempts to use the GPS, including Google Maps."

But what for? Apple should have control over its App Store, thus preventing unwanted navigation applications to be installed on the device in the first place. And for really unwanted applications on your (jailbroken) phone, it would be easy to disable the mechanism mentioned, rendering it useless. Besides, if - for whatever reason - you want to prevent people from using GPS, you would degrade or jam the signal or whatever and not prevent just iPhone users from using GPS.

So, what could that functionality of killing GPS apps be good for? The only reason I might thing of would be a scenario in that Apple releases a turn-by-turn navigation app, becomes sued and then has the opportunity to render it useless instantaneous.
But somehow, this also sounds a bit ridiculous to me.

I'd love to give more information about this mechanism. I dropped a line to Jonathan, let's just hope he'll reply soon with a bit more pieces of information ;)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reason for "online" need of GPS found?

iPhoneatlas reports that there is a function to "call home" hidden somewhere in core location. Obviously, this is used to revoke "bad" applications distributed trough App Store.

So, might this be the reason for GPS to work only when connected to a cellular network? I don't think so, because you just have to have reception of a cellular network for the GPS to work but there is no need to have working connection to the internet.

By the way, I've got no response yet to my inquiry to Infineon and I somehow doubt there will be one at all... With further information on the chipset, I could determine whether you need cellular network in order to have working GPS and if this could be changed to standalone or not.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

GPS in 2.0.1

Small wonder, but there are now big news regarding GPS in 2.0.1. Still, you have to have reception of a cellular network in order to initialize your GPS. Reception quality (or let's say accuracy) wasn't improved either.

Also, it seems that App Store submissions are stagnating a bit, so no news at the software front either.

Coming up next: iPhone OS 2.1...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

iPhone 2.0.1 firmware available

Apple has released the 2.0.1 firmware which is available trough iTunes. According to Apple, it contains - big surprise - "Bug fixes".
This is a little early as it was said to arrive next week. As no one knows yet which bugs are to be fixed, I can't say for sure if this will affect GPS in any way (or not), but I'll find out soon ;)

Monday, August 4, 2008

More navigation software coming up

There are a few new navigation apps available trough App Store. It seems as if now was the time of "speedometer applications". There are three applications available, Speed, SpeedBox and Speedometer. They just display your speed (which is calculated by means of two positions and time difference because the API doesn't have the bearing- and speed features yet), that's all.
I wonder why not any of those feature average or top speed display or mileage or whatever. But I think we'll see this in a future update.

Furthermore, there is a new compass, similar to G-Spot, but looking nicer and also featuring all the common data fields you might know from your GPS receiver (like altitude, odometer, max speed and so on...). This pushes the iPhone a step closer to common GPS receivers like those from Garmin.

Unfortunately, there still is no sign of turn-by-turn...