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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Make Art with Your Phone’s GPS

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Smartphone GPS really isn’t all that great at anything. In a pinch, it can get you from Point A to Point B but I wouldn’t recommend relying on it for anything major. You never know when your phone is suddenly going to lose signal, battery or both. However, there is one cool thing that you can do with your phone’s GPS, and that’s GPS art. read more

Sygic Expands App Capabilities With Update

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Despite the fact that dedicated GPS units tend to outperform smartphones as far as actual GPS signals go, a majority of people utilize some form of smartphone GPS application instead of a dedicated unit. I can’t deny it’s more convenient, at the very least, as most people won’t leave the house with a smartphone in hand. But, if you’re using your smartphone for directions, then you have the conundrum of which GPS app to use and you haven’t got any shortage of choices.

One of the companies that we don’t talk about all that much is Sygic. Unlike the more common free alternatives, Sygic is both more expensive and arguably more accurate. Powered by TomTom maps, Sygic offers an experience that is more akin to a dedicated GPS unit than a smartphone. Recently the company added a slew of features that might just be enough for you Google Maps users to sit up and take notice. read more

Top Smartphone GPS Navigation Apps

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Smartphones might not always be the most ideal option for GPS navigation, but there are times when it makes more sense. After all, no matter where you are, you probably have your smartphone on you, right? Well, while there are literally dozens to choose from, if you’re only going to use it some times then you probably don’t want something you have to pay for, right?

So, here are my top three picks for the best free smartphone navigation apps for those little emergencies or even day-to-day use.

1. HERE – Google Play, iTunes

Nokia’s HERE, also known as Here Maps, was recently sold to BMW for quite a pretty sum. The maps themselves are hailed as being extremely accurate and BMW intends to use them for self-driving cars if that says anything. The routing isn’t half bad either and tends to mimic dedicated GPS units more than Google does, making it a little easier to use.

2. Google Maps – Google Play, iTunes

If you have an Android, then you already have Google Maps by default. Google Maps is the default go-to for most people and its maps are pretty excellent. It also offers voice guidance, although personally I don’t care for how complicated it can be to preview the route and it’s dangerous to do while driving I think. Regardless, this is still a pretty solid option and has great search functions.

3. Maps.Me – Google Play, iTunes

This little app is one that hardly anyone even knows about, and I actually found it on accident. Completely offline, Maps.Me is first and foremost an offline atlas. The company recent introduced routing and while you do have to download ahead of time, the fact that it requires zero data is worth the time. The routing is a little odd sometimes, but if you can read a map, then this is still a great option. Unlike the others, it does require a bit more planning ahead of time, as you probably won’t want to be routing on the fly.

How accurate are they?

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With dedicated GPS devices, it’s easy to measure and compare how accurate each GPS device is, how well it tracks and routes and whether or not the signal is lost. However, with smartphones it doesn’t depend on the app as much as the actual device itself. Some smartphones are better at GPS than others, and I don’t have access to enough devices to really give any tips on that.

For example, my LG G4 gets fantastic signal most of the time and rarely loses or does anything weird like jumping a few blocks at a time. My old Samsung, on the other hand, didn’t even know what GPS was, I don’t think. So it’s really going to come down to your actual device and how often the company updates the maps on the apps. Most apps update at least a couple times a year and Google and Here both update more than that. So sadly, you’ll have to test it out for yourself to determine which works best with your device.

So, for those of you who use your smartphone for navigation, which apps do you prefer? Do you have a suggestion for one that ought to be included? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Google Maps to Allow Offline Routing, Navigation

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I know that for most of you, smartphones are never going to replace GPS. And honestly, I can’t blame you. However, at Google’s latest I/O conference today, the search and technology giant announced an upcoming improvement to its Maps program that takes away one of the biggest pitfalls of smartphone navigation: connectivity. read more

Garmin Removes Viago App With No Fanfare

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Do you remember the Garmin Viago app? Unless you were one of the several thousand people who downloaded it, I am going to guess probably not. We covered its release in June, but I admit after the article was published, I never really gave it a second thought. And as it turns out, I’m not the only one who wasn’t very impressed with the app.

Immediately after launch, the app had poor reviews on both Google Play and iTunes and now, eight months later, Garmin has officially and quietly shuttered the program. The Viago launch page currently features a message that the app is no longer available for download although all the rest of the PR marketing material is still there to read through, strangely enough. I’m not sure when, exactly, this happened (as I wasn’t using the app) but Android Police claims it was earlier this year. read more

Use GPS to Discover Local Art

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GPS has been used for a lot of really cool things over the years, but this idea has to be, by far, one of my favorites. Imagine this: you’re walking along through the park, when you see a beautiful memorial statue sitting under some shady trees. In your pocket, your phone buzzes and you pull it out to discover a poem written about that very statue by one of the many local poets in the area.

While you read the poem, you are surrounded by the exact same scenery and imagery that inspired the rhyme on your device. It’s almost like the poet is standing right next to you. Now imagine that you can do the same with messages, music, photography—-the sky is the limit. You can connect almost anything to a GPS coordinate to create your own puzzles, messages and secrets right in the open. It’s genius, and you can do it right now. read more

Pinit App Combines GPS With Social Media

 

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There is something about photos of vacations that just stirs the mind and always brings a smile to my face with each captured memory. While there are plenty of ways to share these moments with friends and family, most traditional social media is so cluttered with junk—be it videos of cats, quizzes, games or other distractions—that such important moments tend to get lost. However, UK teen Tyler Ball is looking to change the way that people share their travels and photos with his new app Pinit.

Created to act almost like a digital travel diary, Pinit allows users to geotag photos and place a ‘pin’ on a location connected to a photo or status, and a memory. Over time, users can create their own world maps with pins showing all of the places they have visited. Friends and families can follow each other and comment an even ‘like’ photos and statuses. read more

Smart Tracker Blows Through Crowdfunding Goal

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I am always a little hesitant to write about anything that gets funded through Indiegogo, as the site is slightly less reputable than Kickstarter. And while all tech startups are a little risky, ones on Indiegogo seem to be even more so. However, all of that aside, today I discovered this cool little GPS tracker that does, well, everything. The flex funding campaign gives me a bit of pause, but with more than three weeks left in the campaign, it has already surpassed its goal and is barreling towards the stretch goals.

The Smart Tracker, honestly, almost sounds too good to be true. With an expected delivery date of August of this year, the device costs around $180 on Indiegogo (there are still some Early Birds left for $130), and I wouldn’t be surprised for it to cost quite a bit more once the campaign ends. However, in the world of GPS trackers, a sub-$200 device really is pretty cheap. read more

Game Golf Launches Free GPS Tracking App

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In the world of golfing, GPS can play an integral role to better understanding the game and improving with every swing. While there is no shortage of expensive wearables for golfers to choose from, sometimes it can be hard for casual players to justify the additional expense. Well, GPS GOLF announced a new free GPS GOLF Tracking App today that will give players a glimpse of how GPS can help better improve their game.

“If you don’t truly understand your game it’s hard to improve. The free GAME GOLF Tracking App allows golfers to see their shot performance in real-time, something which many amateur golfers will never have had access to before,”John McGuire, CEO of GAME GOLF said in a statement. “Further, it affords everyone access to the GAME GOLF platform to gather stats, collect data and share their game with friends, family, coaches and instructors.” read more

See History through GPS and Augmented Reality

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Imagine walking down a boulevard on your vacation or even in your home town. You see a building with a sign saying it was built in the 1800s, so you pull out your smartphone, launch an app and point the screen at the building. Instead of the building infront of you, you see a photograph of the street and the building facade, showing what it looked like 75 years ago along with historical information on the building. Well, with the app Pivot, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do.

Using GPS and augmented reality, Pivot is designed to act almost like a time capsule, allowing users to peer into the past and learn significant and interesting facts about historical locations. Using geotagged images and GPS technology, the app will allow users to pull up images of sites and allow users to peek into the past. This isn’t the first app to do this, but it’s still a cool idea and a neat way to use GPS technology. read more