The App Store is available if you have updated to iTunes 7.7. I took a quick look at some of the first round of apps (there are 500 at launch) and found the expected Whrrl, Loopt, and Yelp apps, but there are others as well. If you need a map for a subway in the US, you are in luck since there are tons of subway maps. It looks like a couple of the Twitter clients are location enabled, I am pretty excited about that. The upshot is that it looks like we are doing pretty good with the first round of the App Store location apps. There is still a lot of room for growth for a GPS capture and more personalized (GISy) mapping app.
I probably owe Glenn a buck for covering a Nokia topic (I’ll get it to you in San Diego) but I am giddy about some of the steps Nokia has taken in the OS, services and data areas. The data, of course, is their acquisition of Navteq which is awaiting the final go ahead from European regulators. The services is the announcement this week of their acquisition of Plazes.com, not to mention their own location services (check out our interview from Where 2.0 2008).
The topper though is their take over of Symbian Limited (the SymbianOS) and the newly announced Symbian Foundation (with 10 MAJOR players in the cell phone arena). While Symbian isn’t a big deal in the US, the SymbianOS is the leading SmartPhone operating system overall and until Android came out, the SymbianOS was the most open cell phone platform for developers. I am not going to connect the dots between the data, services and OS solutions, but just the continuing growth and direction are impressive. Here in the states we are talking (Google) Android and Apple iPhone, but Nokia is probably far more entrenched in Europe and Asia than either of these new comers can hope for. On top of that, I would think that given the closed structure of the US cell market (having grown out of CDMA) Nokia only gives us a small fraction of their efforts. Either way I am excited to see where Nokia (and the Symbian Foundation) are headed and hope that some of the ideas make their way back to the states for me to play with.
Information has begun to roll out about the companies that have received support from the iPhone venture capital funding announced back in January…all two of them so far. Whrrl, a project from Pelago, is one of the first funded via the iPhone VC and is a location based social mapping site that focuses on rating specific locations and events. We talked to Darren Vengroff of Pelago back in Episode 148 if you want to hear about the web and current mobile version of Whrrl. After the interview we asked Darren about a potential iPhone version of their mobile software and he said they were already working on it (clearly). Most likely Whrrl will continue to be free when the App Store opens in the coming weeks, and it is a safe bet that it will not be the only location-based app available.
As we discussed when the Android developers challenge results were announced for the first round selection, there are tons of mobile location based apps that developers are creating. Obtaining location is a relative aspect to these apps as there are different ways to capture location whether from GPS, Skyhook’s wifi location or even pulling from something like FireEagle where location is entered directly. The goal of any of these apps is to move us from space to personalized and socialized place. While Nokia has been an early leader in the mobile mapping arena, it is likely the enthusiast developers building for the new devices like the iPhone or the Android platform that will push what we think of now as location based apps to the next level.
E-Commerce Times has posted an interview with Brian Knapp, a VP at Loopt, the mobile social networking and mapping software company. The article is actually focused on how Loopt deals with privacy issues for its users, which is a different focus than the usual coverage that details the features or functionality. The issues raised in the interview, including what data Loopt collects and how they manage it, are going to become increasingly important as social networking applications actually begin to be adopted by a broader segment of mobile device users.
I have started taking a tour of some of the location based social apps that are out there since I haven’t had time to write code myself. The first one have been playing with is brightkite.com which can act as a stand alone web app, a location feed for Twitter and works with Yahoo’s Fire Eagle. A quick example of a BrightKite map is here which is a checkin I did from PA. The location information from an account is shown through a list or map of visited places and you can create a series of shortcuts to different Placemarks for quick updating. There is the general friends settings so that you can follow others and of course you can find folks based on location. As with most of these apps you can access it via web or SMS. Check it out if you can get an invite.
I noticed OpenLandmark when I was looking at the mobile apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch. It is a beta site that is creating a directory of landmarks, currently focusing on a few cities, which are mostly major tourist destinations. It is similar to a few other projects out there, except that it seems to be a cleaner approach than the straight wiki map sites. The OpenLandmark page talks about geotagging, photographs, discovering and contributing and it seems fairly interesting as a beta though I want to see what happens after it has been around for a few months. I will check it out again the next time I am in one of the cities that have been built out so far.
Was it just back in October that I was pondering how long it would take Apple to introduce Core Location to provide developers a simple hook into location information for new apps, much like Core Image and Core Audio. While Core Location isn’t coming to the laptop yet, it is going to be available through the iPhone SDK. I am really hoping that companies build on this to make some great ideas into reality. Linked with the cell and Wi-Fi location (Skyhook Wireless interview on AVSP Ep 131) you have to imagine that there are going to be some great location apps available when you can start to get 3rd party apps in June. Now if we can get a hook from the bluetooth radio for a bluetooth GPS stream we can bug Elvin until they rewrite ArcPad for the iPhone. As you can imagine there has already been some discussion of developments, but I am waiting to see how others begin using it. Hmm…write or download SDK.
Update: I think I am going to have to look at OpenGL for the first time in 7 years. The games look great in fact there has already been a suggestion to use the accelerometer for map control over on the GeoWanking list.
One of the areas of convergence for location-based applications and gaming is the idea of mixed reality, where places in the game correspond to real-world locations, and actions in one lead to events or consequences in the other. Treasure Quest: Enoshima – Treasure of the Dragon, is a mixed-reality game for Nintendo DS users that takes users on a treasure hunt around the small island of Enoshima north of Tokyo. Once players get the free software, they travel around the island and pick up clues to find the treasure (the catch of course is that you have to physically travel to the island and be able to read Japanese).
So, why would this be interesting to people beyond the few who can actually play the game before it ends on February 19th? Because the company that wrote and is running the game, Rush Japan, actually specializes in tourism, and the Enoshima game is designed to promote tourism in the area and is a great example of a growing number of applications that are using gaming technologies in innovative ways.
via Pink Tentacle
Wednesday evening Garmin apparently surprised a press event with their announcement of the nuvifone, the company’s first foray into the mobile phone market. The Garmin Blog has an amusing post about the event. The nuvifone itself is supposed to be available sometime in the third quarter of the year, according to the nuvifone webpage The page is pretty sparse right now, with just a few links for carrier inquiries, and the official press release There is an image gallery, though, with some nice shots of the device and its interface.
Oh, and you can preview Garmin’s Super Bowl ad here. Just watch it, that’s all I can say…
So apparently, my lack of voraciousness as a Mac fanboy made me almost miss the fact that Apple is working with Skyhook Wireless to capture location on the iPhone…oh and that Google company too. This is great. And definitely a step-up for the technology. Since I am a iPod Touch user, not an iPhone, hopefully this will trickle its way down soon. The location features should be rolling out in late February.
UPDATE: Apparently the location information is available with the current 1.1.3 version. As expected the locations seem to be better in areas of higher density so that there are more reference points. I am upgrading the Touch tonight and will say whether the new GMaps feature include location based on wifi for it.