I know, another xkcd comic, but I just couldn’t resist:
The BBC’s Webscape video show recently took a look at Geocaching.com, sadly the video isn’t embeddable, so you will have to head over to their sight to take a look.
In my infinite Apple fanboyishness I am going through the iPhone OS 4.0 keynote video from earlier today. A couple of nice things that will be rolling to your iPhone/iPod Touch later this summer and iPad in the fall when the new OS ships will be background location and multitasking (need to let your location app run in the background). With background locations you get two important things:
1) If you are running a turn-by-turn app, then switch over to another app, your turn-by-turn app will keep tracking your GPS location and continue giving you voice directions.
2) If you are running a social networking app like Loopt or Google Latitude (maybe?) then there will be a low power mode that will use your cell location (which tower your are connected to) as a proxy for your location. When you move to a new tower your social networking app will be pinged so that it knows to grab a more accurate location using GPS.
This is huge and something that other services such as Veriplace (as you will hear in this week’s podcast) are rolling out for multiple platforms.
Perhaps the most important note is that now, with multiple apps running, it may not be as easy to keep up with when you are sharing your location or not. Apple has a solution (or 2) for that. When an app is pulling your location via wifi, cell, or GPS it will display a new icon on the top bar next to the battery. It won’t tell you which app is pulling location, but at least you will know when you are sharing. The other thing that they are doing is letting you know in the new Location Services control panel whether or not you have shared your location with an app in the last 24 hours. The Location Services control panel will also be where you dictate which apps have access to your location, doing away with the “are you sure” screen that pop-ups each time you open an app.
I have to say that I am pretty impressed by the steps they have taken to secure privacy…now I am just waiting to see if they blow it by using your location to push location ads (haven’t watch that part yet).
There was a press release back in late February that I just came across from the folks at Leica Geosystems which caught my attention, partially due to the product, partially for the picture. The product is their new Zeno handheld GPS/GLONASS device. It is a Windows CE device, as has become the norm, and they have rolled out their new Zeno Office that includes an OEM version of ArcPad 8 for the device and a desktop client extension for ArcGIS to get your data in and out of the device.
The hardware has most of the features you expect now-a-days: 2 MP camera, 640×480 3.5 inch screen, and SD and CF card slots for expansion. The Zeno 10 includes a numeric pad while the Zeno 15 adds a QWERTY keypad, which brings us to the picture of a GPS unit that immediately made me think ‘green fish’. My mental image aside, the new Zeno line looks like a great option for those in the market for a professional grade handheld GPS unit. If you get a chance to play with one, let us know what you think.
You remember that not too long ago Magellan split itself up between Magellan and Magellan Professional selling off its consumer name and division to GPS powerhouse MiTAC (makers of the Mio GPS line and others). With the recent explosion of in-car nav and LBS it may have seemed like a questionable move, but Magellan’s pro products have always stood out to me.
Today Magellan Professional moves forward again with a rebranding and name change to Ashtech. The rebranding press release comes with the promise of new products and initiatives in 2010. On the heals of the December release of updates to the well reviewed (and personally liked) Mobile Mapper device, it is interesting to see what Ashtech will do with their new branding. In a professional market that may have pro-sumer potential there is a lot of room to grow.
With the large number of location apps on the iPhone and other mobile devices out there, it surprises me that there are so few (handful by my account) professional quality apps. Tonight’s round of press release emails included an intriguing mobile solution. The iPhone/iPod Touch application is called Field Assets and was developed by LBS Wireless which is another of those Aussie/US companies that seem to be popping up lately.
The app’s name (Field Assets) captures its utility, it is for capturing and assessing assets. The demo video used poweline/telephone poles, but I can see a wide area of applications for it. The app utilizes location, image, and audio capture to assist in recording information about assets. While for the iPhone the app is moderately expensive, the ginormous price of $12.99 means you have to eat lunch in one day.
I hope to see more mobile apps that support professionals niches on WinMo, Blackberry, Palm, Android or iPhone. Give us a shout if you have a professional mobile app that you use out in the field.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation had an interesting piece about two weeks ago that I just ran across. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts recently ruled that it is against their state constitution for the police to track a vehicle using GPS without court approval. The interesting thing here is that the crux of their rationale is that the scale of GPS is too great that it interferes with the owner’s “possessory interest”. To be honest, my understanding of the law is weak enough that I’m not sure what “possessory interest” means and why GPS violates it. However, older US Supreme Court cases from the ’70′s ruled that beepers were permissible by the police without owner permission. Basically because GPS is more powerful and more exactly, it is a bigger threat. New York has similarly ruled that as well.
All in all, the case only has jurisdiction in Massachusetts, but it might set a precedent that Federal courts could follow.
The precursor to the EU’s Galileo satellite positioning, EGNOS is now live for 27 EU states! The basic idea behind the system is to take the US’s GPS system and make it more accurate – from 60 feet to 6 feet. This will be a big boon to navigation system in the EU since they’re already EGNOS capable (at least most of them).
There has been tons of coverage of TomTom and Intermap’s foray into iPhonedom over the last week but I wanted to link to the videos highlighting the new tools. One hopes these techs will find their way to Android and others in the future.
Glympse is the next location sharing app to come to the surface. Though only available for Android at this time it looks like an interesting app…especially for the timer functionality. You can head to their website to get more information or watch their video.