mapping

Nokia is on an updating roll this morning. The company has pushed out a new version of HERE Drive to the Windows Phone Store, introducing a batch of new features. If you find yourself looking around for your car often, or wish to view a list of turn-by-turn directions from any given route, this update is for you. But wait, there's more.

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WPCentral gets an exclusive look at some new HERE tech with Nokia

Nokia today invited Windows Phone Central along to their UK offices in London to talk about HERE location services and to show off the new technology in the new fleet of vehicles. These mobile machines are tasked with keeping the data collected fresh and relevant, as well as adding yet more detail to services and apps that utilise HERE data.

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Nokia has published a rather interesting read over on its main blog, which goes into some detail about indoor mapping. Smartphone owners who utilise mapping services while on the move don't necessarily think about indoor maps for supported buildings and locations, but said feature can prove invaluable at public locations where it's easy to get lost. Nokia calls its HERE indoor mapping "Venue Maps".

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HTC looking to get into the mapping business?

HTC, much like Samsung, has been targeted by not only ourselves, but consumers too. The companies have been in the heat of complaints when it comes to lack of support for Windows Phone, when compared to Nokia. We'll attempt to not sound like a broken record, but it's long been the case where Nokia has pushed the platform forward, with Samsung and HTC (as well as other manufacturers) taking more of a back seat approach. 

Despite what we all may think of HTC, the company may yet show consumers that the towel hasn't been thrown in when it comes to Windows Phone. The news website Windows Phone Italy has contacted sources familiar with HTC plans in Taiwan and have learnt that the company is looking at a navigation solution for its family of Windows Phones. Could we see the first sign of the company looking to match its unique hardware with software?

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Although we know many of you are diehard Bing fans and loathe anything by Google, we won’t look down upon you at all if you so occasionally choose to flirt with Google Maps on Windows Phone. While Google has infamously declared they have no plans for any official Windows Phone apps, developer Alexey Strakh has been working on his clone, gMaps, for quite some time now on Windows Phone.

Version 2.0 for the Pro version went live at the beginning of January and now its free sibling also just received a nice bump, including some Windows Phone 8 support. Although no changelog is posted, we can tell you that for Windows Phone 8 it does now support a doublewide Tile in addition to the smaller Tile...

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We had a chance to sit down and chat with Thom Brenner, Vice President of Location and Commerce for Nokia and Pino Bonetti who writes about location on the Nokia Conversations blog. We wanted to hear what Nokia are planning for the future with its location services, which the company has touted as its main focus and differentiator for Windows Phone.

Being number one in location and mapping is not anything new to Nokia as they have been at this game for many years, ever since they purchased NAVTEQ back in 2007 for a reported $8.1B. Their services power products from Microsoft, Yahoo, Flickr and four out of five cars on the road today use Nokia mapping technology. Nokia have announced their intention to be the “where” company, making location services the very heart of what they do.

Mapping and location are set to get a big boost from this drive, as Windows Phone users we will be pole position to see some of those fantastic innovations.

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Every wonder where you spend most of your time? Track My Life is a Windows Phone app that hopes to tell you just that.  The app records your location every thirty minutes and logs which city your are in.  Track My Life will map these locations on the map (provided by Bing) with a push pin.  From there you can tap on a push pin to see how much time you've been tracked in that city or view the overall stats that will let you know which city you've spent the most time in.

Track My Life is an interesting tracking app for your Windows Phone that does have some room for improvement.  Overall though, it's a nice choice if you're curious what location you are spend the bulk of your time in.

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What's Nokia teasing for this Monday?

Update -- And we hate to the bearer of bad news but we've heard from a very trusted source that this has nothing to do with Microsoft's announcement come Monday. So what is it? We're told that the area code for Hawaii--808--is the key here. Specifically a new 41MP camera phone called the 808 Pureview--you may have heard of it---that impending announcement is exciting but not for Windows Phone users. Sorry.

Looks like Nokia is itching to tell us something and that something is for this Monday, June 18th. The same Monday that Microsoft is set to announce something as well. Related? Probably.

Nokia doesn't say much on the matter but they did post the above image of the Hawaii islands and what look to be zoom features. If we had to bet, they're hinting strongly at some 3D mapping feature coming to Bing Maps.

Could it also be part of a hardware RT tablet? Maybe. There is currently a lot of speculation whirling around the idea that Microsoft is unveiling their own tablet hardware possibly made by Nokia this Monday but we may need to tone it down and settle for some Microsoft-Nokia mapping collaboration instead.

We revealed that in Windows Phone 8, Nokia Maps will be powering Bing with 3D mapping that is hardware accelerated. This could be a prelude to that as it seems to be intimately related.

Only 72 more hours, give or take, before we find out. Have a theory about the above image? Sound off in comments!

Source: Nokia US Facebook; Thanks, Jack F., for the tip!

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While gMaps Pro vanished from the Marketplace a few weeks ago, it's back but with a slight snag. After dealing with copyright issues and re-branding/updating things, the app was restored to the Windows Phone Marketplace as a new submission. This basically means that if you had previously purchased gMaps Pro, you won't be eligible for any future updates without re-purchasing the app.

To ease the pain of the situation and to celebrate the Marketplace reaching 100,000 apps Alexey Strakh, gMaps Pro's developer, will be offering gMaps Pro (regularly $1.99) as a free app for tomorrow (Friday, June 8th) only.

We have to tip our hat to Alexey for trying to make the best of a not-so-good situation. For those who purchased gMaps Pro before it was removed, nows your chance to get the current version.  This will enable you to stay current with all the updates as they become available without the need to re-purchase the app. Everyone else... you get a heck of a deal on a nice mapping app.

You can find gMaps Pro here at the Windows Phone Marketplace. We aren't sure when the pricing change will kick in so if you don't see it right away on Friday, check back later.

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We've covered Turn-By-Turn before and recently reviewed their off-line mapping solution for the United States. The (relatively) more affordable navigation app was the first to offer regional and local downloading of offline data, which makes the app a bit faster, saves on precious battery life and uses no-data saving some money.

The catalog of offerings has expand greatly to many other countries and regions, as can be seen below. And now one of the more difficult areas has finally received its own custom maps: Australia. We've heard about folks in this region having a difficult time finding a GPS navigation app for Windows Phone, so they should be pretty excited. However, it comes at a cost: $40.99 for the app and maps.

That's certainly on the high end, though we imagine the cost is largely dictated the licensing fees that developer GPS Tuner needs to pay NAVTEQ to have access. But hey, at least you have an option now.

Likewise, in case you're a big Europe traveler, you can now just buy access to all of Europe's maps instead of country by country. That too will set you back some cash, about $50.99 to be exact, but at least you'll have everything you ever need right there on your phone.

Pick up Turn-By-Turn Australia & New Zealand here and the comprehensive Europe version here in the Marketplace.

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This should make some people excited. In Surrey, England Nokia's NAVTEQ car loaded with cameras and sensors on top, was spotted driving around, presumably mapping the terrain.

This is cool for two reasons: one, it says Bing on it, clearly showing the close partnership between Nokia and Microsoft and two, this looks like Nokia may be engaging in some type of NAVTEQ roadview, analogous to Google Street View. The car actually looks a lot like what Google uses to drive around photographing streets in a 360 degree panorama.

Going one step further, it reminds us of this Gizmodo story from 2010, where a similar vehicle had "a mount with seven cameras and 64 lasers to see everything better, in 3D" resulting in the ability to "...scan everything within view, capturing 1.2 million points of data every second. The result is all kinds of terrain data that is not possible using just cameras". Well, that sounds pretty awesome.

We know Nokia and Microsoft have big plans for NAVTEQ but this could mean some Google-level and beyond maps for Windows Phone in 2012. Sign us up!

Update: Yup, looks like it's part of Bing Streetside:

"Microsoft is partnering with NAVTEQ, the leading global provider of digital map, traffic and location data, to collect Streetside imagery. NAVTEQ will use their expertise in efficient data collection to staff and operate the collection vehicles and manage data logistics. Microsoft will apply industry-leading image processing and privacy protection techniques to create data products for both Bing Maps and NAVTEQ commercial customers."

Thanks to Yousuf K., who tipped us the photos using our app!

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The other day we mentioned how the company GPS Tuner was gearing up for a release of their offline mapping solution for Windows Phone. What makes 'Turn by Turn Navigation US + CAN' unique when compared to the newly released Navigon is that you can select individual map regions to download as opposed to the whole country. As you can see above, we're downloading the Northeast US and it comes in at a humble 231MB which is a lot lighter than the 1.6GB Navigon makes you download.

The app is priced at $28.99, which considering the options you're getting, sounds pretty decent. Navigon is similarly priced in the US but that's just temporary until it gets bumped to $50, in that sense in the long run this app is certainly more cost efficient. Other features include:

  • Voice-Guided Turn by Turn Navigation with premium audio quality
  • Full detailed Navteq maps
  • Automatic Map rotation according to your heading
  • POI and address search
  • Add POI-s or locations to Favorites
  • Route calculation based on Time or Distance
  • Supporting Portrait and Landscape mode
  • Automatic re-routing if you miss a turn
  • Speed dependent Volume control
  • Driving and Walking directions
  • US and Metric units are supported
  • Itinerary (turn list for planned routes)
  • Avoid Highway/Toll roads option

We're obviously in the middle of downloading some maps and we'll see about throwing up a video. Oh and best part? Unlike Navigon, you DO have a trial, so give it a go here in the Marketplace. And we expect a European version sometime soon too.

One thing that we can gripe about? It's not a Mango app. So no fast app switching nor is there any contacts integration, making quick routing a pain.

Thanks, TheWeeBear, for the heads up!

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3D maps on WP7 [Developers]

This is pretty neat. Tim James, over at EMC Consulting, has provided a detailed how to (if you will) of bringing depth to a 2D map to Windows Phone 7. Namely, wrapping a map around a 3D sphere. Tim also explains how building a 3D map using a flat image can show signs of distortion among and top and bottom halves, while the equatorial area covers much more surface space.  All of which could give added dimension to apps.

On a side note, while reading the article I'm heavily reminded of Street Slide, except this isn't improving street view and making it appear as a more constant 3D 'walkthrough'. Check out the video below for the app Stars3D (opens Zune), which is really impressive and runs along the same idea but instead we're inside the sphere looking out.

Source: EMC Consulting

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"Find My Phone" found his golf clubs

There's no real news here, but rather a fun and satisfying story about a thief, a mobile phone, and some golf clubs.  A friend of the author passed along his tale in which, after finishing a round of golf, he retired to the 19th hole, leaving his bag outside.  Upon coming out, he found that his golf bag was gone, as was the WP7 phone that was in the pocket.  After calling the phone several times without answer, the man returned home and quickly brought up the Find My Phone website only to see his phone moving further and further away form where he was.

Eventually, the phone came to a stop, about 80km away.  The man called the police and directed them to the location.  Later that night, he was notified that they had found the golf bag and a thief who thought he had made an easy score.

Find My Phone is a standard feature of WP7.  We highly recommend you set it up on your device if you haven't already.

 

Source: iTWire

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They are like a disease covering social media realm, and CES 2011 was not going to be an exception. Mashable had a quick look at a demonstration for an upcoming Ford app on all mobile platforms (including Windows Phone 7).

Alan Hall presented, and quickly ran through what the app will offer users (owners of the upcoming Ford Focus Seden). From seeing what charge the car currently holds, planning short or multiple stop journeys, locating charging stations, pre-heating/cooling the car, and more, the MyFord app is a pretty nifty bit of kit. You can even post statistics and more to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, sharing with the world how you are doing your bit to save the environment.

Hoping the app will make the somewhat daunting switch from highly explosive liquid to energy charged cells less challenging for the average driver/car owner, Ford have created a more than useful tool that I’m sure will prove to be invaluable for owners of the Focus Seden – especially since mobile phones are rarely out of one’s hand.

Source: Mashable

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Waze headed to Windows Mobile

Waze is a free turn-by-turn GPS application that uses crowd sourcing to detect real time traffic conditions and has been available for the iPhone and in Beta form for Android phones. We have learn that a Windows Mobile version of this application is entering the Alpha stage.

In looking at the Guided Tour of the application, it does look promising. Waze is a social network of sorts for motorists, relying on users to report traffic conditions.  Most information is reported passively by the user's driving habits. But users also have the option to report conditions, upload photos of the conditions and report mapping errors.

To expand the potential of this application, a live map can be found at Waze's site to allow anyone to check out the reported conditions nation wide. The live map gives you a decent feel for what the application is capable of.

If you're interested in registering to be an Alpha tester, just head on over to the Waze download page. Once released for public use, we'll take it for a test drive and give you a full review.

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It's like these two are in a race as both companies have released updates for their popular free mapping software.

Out of the two, Live Search (a clear fave here at WME) offers the most noticeable update, which greatly speeds up the loading time of the app. That was probably our biggest gripe and often made us leave the app "open" in the background to avoid the slow reload.

The new Live Search v3.5.8198.0 cuts in half the load time and you'll surely notice the zippy load bar. Other than that, nothing new to notice.

Google Maps on the other hand, has bumped it's version number to v2.2.0.20, which is a whopping 0.0.0.01 upgrade, so probably nothing major there. Indeed, there is still no "Transit" directions available here in NYC.

Oh Google, you tease so much.

Live Search can be updated via the client (natch) or go here: wls.live.com and you can grab Google Maps here.

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How-To Video: Setting up Bluetooth GPS on WM5

As promised, here's a quick video walkthough showing you how to set up a Bluetooth GPS "puck" on Windows Mobile. Credit goes to Microsoft, specifically the Windows Mobile Team Blog.

The benefit of this is you can use free mapping and directions software like (in order of my preference)...

....to find your way around. None of these free apps are particularly well-suited to being used while driving (even the new smart2go, which so far I'm not impressed with), but they're great for lighter usage.

If you don't already have a GPS puck, our store sells a few standalones.

If you're looking for just straightforward GPS-in-your Car for in-driving Navigation, though, I still think a bundle is a good way to go.

How-To Video is after the jump.

(Directly download the video here)

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