Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mitch Wagner tells us why we shouldn't wait for Turn-by-turn...

...and I tell you why he might be wrong.

Mitch says "The obstacles can be summed up in one word: Wires. Steve Jobs hates wires. He's right about that. Wires are ugly, inconvenient, and they get tangled up in hairballs. Using turn-by-turn directions for the iPhone will result in a lot of wires running all over the front of your car. "

Well, yeah, wires are bad! That's why Steve Jobs enabled synch to iTunes over wifi and bluetooth. Wait. He didn't?! ;-)

Well, I don't know what Mitch used for navigation before, but I tell you what I did. I used my Nokia E61i with TomTom and a bluetooth GPS mouse before. Wires? Well, yeah, there was one (in numbers: 1) wire that connected my phone to a power source. Don't know where Mitch's "a lot of wires" should come from.

Then there's the iPhone's speaker. "The iPhone's built-in speaker is too weak to use on its own." Well, the speaker on my E61i wasn't the loudest one, but it was fairly loud enough to be used for navigation purposes. As the iPhone's speaker definedly is louder that the E61i's was, I presume that should be quite enough.

The battery is to weak for turn-by-turn? Well, of course it is! And of course you will need some kind of external power source, or can you name an in-car navigation device that will run on battery all day long? There won't be much of them, I presume. Beside that, you have a power outlet in your car, so why shouldn't you be using it (like all the other navigation gadgets do)?

But Mitch goes on:
"So here's what a car trip using the hypothetical iPhone turn-by-turn directions would look like: Get in your car. Put the iPhone into its cradle. Plug one end of the power cord into the iPhone. Plug the other end of the power cord into your cigarette lighter. Connect the iPhone output to an external sound system, either through a hardwire or by putting on your Bluetooth headset and powering it up. Then you're ready to start the iPhone and its turn-by-turn directions app. That's a lot of trouble just to run down to the store to pick up a quart of milk. I'm exhausted just thinking about it, I need to lie down."

Mitch, you should get some exercise. Seriously ;-)
Well, the solution Mitch thought of sounds cr**py. Why? Because it is the wrong solution. It sounds like something knocked together from individual parts to a makeshift solution.
I don't think he has ever seen some kind of in-car solution that uses a PocketPC, Windows Mobile smartphone or something else.
Here's what it could look like: you have a cradle in your car, attatched to the windscreen by a suction cup. There's exactly one cable that plugs into your power outlet, preferably a helix cable that wouldn't be "running all over the front of your car".
The cradle itself has a dock connector that plugs into your phone automatically when you put the Phone into the cradle. Beside that, it also features a loudspeaker (which is also connected trough the dock connector).

See? No cables, no hassle, just a simple cradle, plug and go. I think Mitch could be able to handle this whithout having to lie down, sitting in the driver seat should be fairly enough. ;-)

It could look something like this, not so ugly, but I think you see where this is going.

But that's not enough. Mitch also says that a reason for not having turn-by-turn might be and "fear by TomTom and other makers of GPS software that the iPhone would cannibalize sales of dedicated GPS hardware".
Well, yeah, this might be a fear of TomTom, but why should the companys that produce GPS software only be feared of that!?

But in the end, Mitch says "
In writing this blog post, I'm taking a risk. After all, I'm just speculating here." Well yes, me too. But I'm still confident that turn-by-turn will be there soon. So let's just wait and see who's right in the end (and hope that it will be me).


  1. I'll actually go one better than that. I'm in process of installing a iPod dock into the dashboard so all I need do when I get in the car is simply place my iPhone into my dock and drive away.

    I'll be using the dension gateway 100 which provides a connection to my car's cd player. I can then get sound through the car's speakers and change music track.

    I'm using also using a product called spec.dock which is a dock made for the purpose of integrating into a car.

    So no faffing with any cables or sticky holders on my windscreen :) Beat that Tomtom.

    Just need someone to release some navigation software already.

  2. Sounds like the luxury version ;-)

    Well, there's no doubt that there are many sophisticated solutions. All I wanted to point out was that you could have a solution with a single piece of hardware and one cable that will do the job quite fine...

  3. Who uses GPS to go to your local supermarket to pick up some milk... seriously...

  4. Well, Mitch does (at least it seems that he does) ;-) Then there might be some uber geeks that would do, but that's basically it, I presume ;)

  5. Thanks for the feedback. I hope you're right and I'm wrong.

    Mitch Wagner