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Summary:

Hey, AT&T is a carrier, OK? They live and breath subscription models. So I don’t blame them for bringing their Navigator GPS app to the iPhone in the same manner as they do their other GPS phones. Still, no thanks. It’s not just the subscription model, […]

AT&T Navigator

Hey, AT&T is a carrier, OK? They live and breath subscription models. So I don’t blame them for bringing their Navigator GPS app to the iPhone in the same manner as they do their other GPS phones. Still, no thanks.

It’s not just the subscription model, but the maps aren’t even local to the iPhone. If I’m in the middle of nowhere, can we assume that maybe I won’t have a carrier signal sufficient to get me out of there? Bad enough I have to hope for the GPS signal, but being dependent on the vagaries of a carrier’s signal in the boonies is a risk I should be able to avoid. I want my maps with me, not in the cloud somewhere.

This is what I want from a turn-by-turn app:

  • Purchase outright (no subscription)
  • Allow for in-app purchase of new or updated maps, but don’t require them, and don’t hard sell it. I see no reason to upgrade maps more than maybe once a year.
  • Maps downloaded and local on the iPhone.
  • Reasonably priced

The latter is obviously up for debate, as we all have opinions on what’s “reasonable.” Tom Tom did not discuss pricing when they demoed their app. However, one can get a relatively cheap Tom Tom device for perhaps $100. I want their app to turn the iPhone into such a device, but I should not have to pay for the hardware again. I do realize good software is worthing paying for, so I’m not expecting a 99-cent, or $10, or even $20 app. I can understand it’s worth more than that.

For me, if it’s in the $40-$50 range — and assuming it gets good reviews — I’d snap it up without hesitation. My enthusiasm will wane rapidly after that, and if it approaches the $99 mark, I believe they’re pricing it like a standalone device even though they’ve saved the cost of hardware. In other words, a rip-off.

This is especially true since Tom Tom showed a hardware accessory that will hold the iPhone, boost its GPS signal, charge it, and allow hands-free communication. This looks like a great add-on, but is all the more reason the iPhone app itself should not approach the price of a self-contained unit.

Tom Tom, in my opinion, has a chance to make a killing here by being first to market with the kind of GPS app a lot of people are looking for. I hope the bean counters don’t try to take advantage and price themselves out of it.

  1. Navigon are the first company to release a turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone. TomTom look like being second.

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    1. Yea, though they charge it way off 699 SEK (~$94 USD) I would have bought it right off if it was charged ~ $60 USD but now I’m struggling to hold to the cash.

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  2. MapQuest has a FREE application as an alternative to Google Maps that has turn by turn directions and a few other features that are lacking from the GMaps app.

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  3. I gave up on Turn by Turn on the iPhone. When the 3G came out I was really excited about it and held off from buying a GPS for my car… but after almost a year I just figured that was one thing I would have to concede that the iPhone wouldn’t do as well as a dedicated device.

    I went and bought a Nuvi a couple months ago since I’m traveling a good bit this summer. Honestly, I think it’s a better solution anyway. I can still talk on the phone and play music through the iPod while I’m driving, which would be difficult if not impossible when using a GPS software.

    I think it would be useful for walking directions, but Google Maps and the new digital compass will probably take care of that need for me.

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  4. if it is possible, this is gonna get cracked the shit out of…present company included…

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  5. Whomever can bring in an app for $40 will do very well. They’ll make it up in volume.

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  6. There is ZERO chance I’m going to buy a subscription model. Update and add maps occasionally, yes. But $10 a month? What idiot thought this would fly?

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  7. I agree with Brandon, and went through the same series of events he did (waited, then broke down and bought a Nuvi). Given the cost and capabilities of these devices today, turn-by-turn directions on the iPhone is somewhat of a solution looking for a problem.

    The main problem with the current generation of iPhones is the amount of memory needed to store the maps in the device, which pretty much rules it out at this point. When 32+ GB iPhones are the norm, then it may be reasonable. I don’t see a cloud-based solution being practical for a long, long time, because we all know how unreliable the cell system is for this sort of application; even the current Maps application is unusable or marginal too much of the time.

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  8. [...] a huge solar panel market? (Earth2Tech) An open letter to web app developers (WebWorkerDaily) Turn-by-turn directions for the iPhone, by subscription? No, thanks (TheAppleBlog) Open Source Sensing eyes how sensors affect privacy, more (OStatic) New RealPlayer [...]

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  9. The GPS on the iPhone does not seem to work unless there is a data connection. I travel in a number of places internationally where AT&T does not have a data roaming agreement with local service providers, so I get no data connection. When I’m in an area without data service, the GPS on the iPhone doesn’t work. And I’m not talking about just Google Maps, even apps like GPS Kit can’t return a latitude and longitude reading unless there is a data signal present.

    So, in relation to your article, whether you get turn by turn from a subscription model or from downloaded maps, the iPhone can’t (or won’t) provide GPS capability without a data connection. Perhaps there is a way around this in the API, but I’ve tried several GPS apps in these countries and none of them work if data is not present.

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    1. @Wayne

      I’ve been using G-Maps US West for (non-voice) Turn-by-Turn since it’s release and it works fine with or without a data connection.

      Right now there’s no voice, but I’m hopeful that they’ll update. The price is much more reasonable than anything out there at the moment.

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  10. Howie Isaacks Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    I’ll just stick with my Garmin Nuvi. It does the job no matter where I happen to be. I just have to remember to take it with me when I get out of the car, or tuck it away out of sight in case someone decides to steal it.

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