Sunday, March 18, 2012

TomTom Sports App to Debut on Apple, Android Devices

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For athletes, there are dozens of apps that provide a wide range of statistics and ways to measure your performance in whatever sport you choose. But, sometimes, all of that data can be hard to process and each app has something that it does well. If you’re into more than one sport, this can result in athletes trying to monitor and compare multiple apps across platforms for all the different activities that they engage in. Now, TomTom has introduced a solution.

The new TomTom Sports App, co-created with several athletes and fitness app users, is designed to help athletes not only track their workouts and data, but do it all in one place. The app can handle 12 different activities and offers various social sharing functions, smart trends, and easy-to-understand performance stats. read more

New CA Driving Law Requires Phones to be Mounted

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It’s now illegal to use an unmounted phone for GPS in California. Just don’t mount it like this.

As you probably know, I prefer automotive GPS devices over using a cell phone when you’re navigating in the car. Not only do auto GPS devices tend to function better (as that’s their one and only purpose) but it’s just overall safer. Using a phone for navigation can be distracting, but it is convenient, so I kind of get it. But here’s the problem: how do you tell who is staring at the phone reading a map and who is staring at a text (or god forbid, texting back) instead of watching the road? And, is there really that much of a difference in attention?

A new California law says no. You might remember a few years ago that California made it illegal to hold your phone while operating a vehicle, and there are multiple other laws for talking and texting in a car. GPS, however, was sort of a loophole to this, and many people were pulled over, only to claim that they were using Google Maps on their device. However, a new law states that as of 2017, phones must be mounted to be used for GPS. read more

New GPS App Shows Geological Points of Interest Along Route

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Geology is one of those sciences that either you love it, or you don’t. Most people who aren’t geology nerds haven’t really studied it much past a high school science class or, at best, a 101 gen ed course in college. I know that I certainly haven’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that geology is a rather fascinating subject. I like it so much in fact, that I always try and include a geology section on the weekly news roundup here at GPS Tracklog.

So, for anyone who is like me and has the habit of peering out the window on a flight or road trip and wondering, the app Flyover Country is going to become your new best friend. This app, created by the University of Minnesota Department of Earth Sciences and funded by the National Science Foundation, allows users to download a track and then use GPS to learn about interesting geological and fossil sites on a hike, road trip, or even flight. read more

Runkeeper Adds GPS Support to Apple Watch Series 2

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When the Apple Watch was introduced in 2015, many people wondered if it was the beginning of the end for running watches. We predicted that it wouldn’t push out Garmin at all, mostly because it didn’t even come with GPS capabilities, meaning that anyone looking to use it for workouts would also have to bring along a phone for any kind of tracking. Well, it looks like more than a year later, Apple will finally be getting the GPS capabilities.

Earlier this month, Runkeeper announced  new update for the Apple Watch Series 2 devices that will finally take advantage of the GPS chips inside the Apple Watches. With this new functionality, the app will not only track things like distance and heart rate, but also mark your tracks via GPS. I personally haven’t had much experience with it, but the reviews have been a little sketchy. Some users reported that the GPS signal was a little variable, but the app does feature GPS bars to help show where the signals are low. read more

Hudify Uses Your Phone and Apps For HUD

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Heads-Up Displays (also called HUD) are, in my opinion, one of the cooler ways to get GPS navigation and instructions. For those unfamiliar, HUD projects the navigation information right on your windshield, sometimes with augmented reality so it looks like the directions are overlaid on the roads themselves. The benefit to this, of course, is that you won’t have to look away from the road, even for a second, to get directions. The downside is that HUDs are usually extremely expensive as it’s still a pretty new technology.

However, it looks like a fully-funded Kickstarter project has launched that will make HUD more readily available to your average consumer. Completely funded last week, and still available through the company website, Hudify is a HUD that is designed to work with your cell phone. This aftermarket HUD is not quite as cool as the ones that project on your windshield, but it’s still a cool idea.

read more

Uber Updates Introduce Background GPS Tracking

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Although it’s not something that I spend a lot of time writing about on this blog, the reality is that GPS tracking is a huge part of what makes GPS such a useful and prevalent technology. Through GPS tracking apps and websites, users are able to get directions and location-based information and other services. But, with that functionality comes the potential for a lot of privacy issues and concerns.

Recently, the popular app Uber, which provides cab rides from private drivers for less than the cost of a regular taxi, came under fire after an update requests permission to track users location constantly. While users can opt out of the tracking, reports indicate that the app becomes basically unusable and nonfunctional. With the release, Uber stated that it only had intention to track users for 5 minutes after drop off, but the legal language of the permission allows always-on tracking, even when the app is closed.

After the most recent update, when users open the app, they are greeted with the following prompt: read more

MapQuest To Continue Deal with TomTom

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TomTom, the Dutch navigation and mapping company, has announced that it has expanded its deal with the GPS navigational software company MapQuest. The original deal, which was first struck in 2012 and has been extended since then, allows MapQuest to use TomTom’s extensive map database for its digital platforms. But this year, some additional things were added.

According to the press release, MapQuest, a subsidiary of AOL, has also brokered access to TomTom’s traffic information, leading speculation that MapQuest will soon be offering better traffic options. Currently, MapQuest already offers some traffic information for drivers, although it is not always accurate. However, this partnership may mean some big things for MapQuest. read more

It is Illegal to Use Phone GPS While Driving in RI

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The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal made a landmark decision recently that may have cemented the beginning of troubles for phone GPS apps. Recently, the ruling from the Tribunal’s Appeals Panel upheld a state fine for a man in Rhode Island who was given a ticket for looking at his phone while driving. The man claimed that he was checking his GPS, not texting.

“…Based on the plain language of the statute,” the judges wrote in their decision, “a reader may be looking at any visual display on the phone’s interface and be in violation of the statute. To hold otherwise would defeat the purpose of the statute: to prevent drivers from distractions caused by operation of a cell phone while driving.” read more

5 Reasons Why You Need a GPS Bike Computer

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As the fight to help reduce the use of fossil fuels heats up around the world, more and more people are walking, taking public transportation, and riding bicycles. And, while the average smartphone can definitely do a lot of the same tracking and such that a dedicated GPS bike computer can, there are also some major benefits to having a separate device for your bike. read more

Google Maps May Be Adding Speed Limits

 

The above image was posted on Reddit in September

The above image was posted on Reddit in September

Since the advent of the smartphone, the GPS market has been fighting an uphill battle to prove to consumers that smartphones really can’t do everything. While standalone GPS devices are a bit more expensive, there are still some things that they do better than the almighty smartphone including signal reliability and better directions. But, it looks like that list might be getting shorter by the day.

Last month, several Google Maps users reported seeing speed limit indicators in the bottom corner of the Google Maps app. Waze, which Google purchased fairly recently, already had this capability so it’s not a huge surprise, but it is definitely worthy of note. read more