gps

GPS Calculator is a tool box of sorts for your Windows Phone GPS.  The app won't appeal to everyone but it helps you determine distances, coordinates, and areas of maps (here's our review).  If you are in need of such tools, it's a very nice app and was recently updated to version 5.0.

GPS Calculator's new features include:

  • Sharing of location in any supported format via sms, email or social
  • Time zone, local time and sunrise-sunset calculations for any location
  • A new Altimeter function where you can not only view elevation profile graphs and get current GPS elevation, but also compare it using five different elevation data models.

The GPS Calculator Version 5 update also adds support for:

  • SRTM3 (shuttle radar topography mission)
  • ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) which is a high resolution imaging instrument that is flying on the Terra satellite
  • GTOPO30 (global digital elevation model from topo maps)
  • USGS elevation data
  • Google’s elevation data web service

GPS Calculator is not a tool for everyone.  It isn't a navigation app to take you from point A to B.  But if you feel a little geeky about GPS technology, or just want to learn about it – you should give GPS Calculator a try.

GPS Calculator is a free, ad free app for your Windows Phone that you can snatch up over here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Thanks, Kitya, for the tip!

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Windows Phone App Review: GPS Calculator

Have you ever wondered where you would be if you traveled 100 miles in any direction? GPS Calculator is available over at the Windows Phone Marketplace that will tell you where you would end up. GPS Calculator is a tool box of sorts for your Windows Phone GPS that helps you determine distances, coordinates, and areas of maps.

GPS Calculator's tools are laid out nicely in a straight forward manner. If you use your Windows Phone's GPS, GPS Calculator is a nice companion app to have.

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Windows Phone App Review: Save my Spot!

If you've ever had trouble remember where you saw something you need Save My Spot! for your Windows Phone. Save My Spot! allows you to record the GPS coordinates of the spot you need help remembering, add tons of descriptive information on the spot, and helps track you back when the need arises.

Save My Spot! is a simple, effective way to tag favorite locations or spots. It is a handy Windows Phone app to record where you've been and help you remember how to get back there again.

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Microsoft has been granted a patent that would use location-based services to help keep pedestrians safe.  The “pedestrian route production” technology will “construct a direction set that allows the user to take paths that take him to his home in a quickest amount of time while keeping the user relatively safe (e.g., taking the user through neighborhoods with violent crime statistics below a certain threshold).”  This means that based on crime statistics, unsafe weather reports, etc., the service will create a route that will maximize their chances of getting to their destination unscathed.  The routes will also be customized based on a user's tolerance for such risk based on historical data.  So if you think you're a tough guy, the service will give you the opportunity to prove it.

The patent comes without any detail from Microsoft as to how or when they will use it.  Presumably, this technology would be incorporated into Bing Maps or similar applications.  If so, it would be the first mapping utility to offer such services to users.

Source: TFTS; Thanks to Sohaib for the Tip!

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Enjoy golf? Own a Windows Phone? Fancy saving $30 on a top golf app available on the platform? Executive Caddie, winner of the Windows Phone App Challenge, has had its price slashed to $0 and is within reach for anyone on a tight budget after the present purchasing spree. The 20 year old golf analysis software is a golfer's best friend when aiming for the hole-in-one. 

The Windows Phone app sports a highly accurate golf course database, on-course GPS and scorecard functionality (for up to four golfers). The GPS assistance boasts some impressive features:

  • Easily see distance to front, back, and center of the green.
  • Easily see layup distance to the 100, 150, and 200.
  • Aerial Map View showing the entire course layout.
  • Map View fairway markers and rings for the 100, 150, and 200.
  • Waypoints/markers for front, back, center, layups, bunkers, hazards, etc.
  • Zoom to your current position, the green, or the fairway.

You can download Executive Caddie from the Marketplace for absolutely nothing over the festive holiday (normally $30).

 

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An interesting thing happened yesterday which we chose to not cover in detail. In short, someone published an app to the Windows Phone Marketplace that was pirated. Specifically it was a popular GPS navigation app which cost a good amount of money.  The person responsible presumably ripped the original XAP from the Marketplace and simply re-submitted it, pawning it off as their own.

Did they try to make money from it? Nope, they did something possibly worse--they offered it for free.

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We do love our GPS and navigation. Heck, we now confidently strut around foreign countries like we've been there for years now, instead of gazing and gawking at a giant map, walking in circles. But one problem we still have is once we're at our location, we're back on our own once inside. Clearly a #firstworldproblem.

Nokia is working on this solution by using WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 in an attempt to maximize accuracy indoors. What's more, they're reaching out to partners to make this happen quickly, with a goal of about 18 months. Recently, Google announced indoor navigation with Google Maps 6.0, which will help steer conference attendees to their right spots. In that sense, Nokia is playing a bit of a catch-up to Google for once, but at least the video above shows that the Finns are well on their way to making this happen too.

Side note, anyone else worried that we're just going to be staring at our phones incessantly, walking around, bumping into things as we find where we are going?

Source: NokiaBlog; via: PhoneArena

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Nokia Drive, their mostly-offline navigation system for the Lumia series, has been hacked off the 800 and patched to work on other Windows Phones. We loaded it up on the HTC Titan to see if this was all legit and sure enough, it is.

Coming from a Chinese forum (which we're not linking), the XAP comes in at 7.35MB but of course grows dramatically once you choose and download maps. In fact, the maps are quite massive here for the States, where it weights in at 1.9GB and took nearly an hour to download and install. It's certainly not a bad piece of software but it's also nothing to go out of your way for either.

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Nokia Drive, a free navigation app for the Lumia Windows Phones, has offline maps for regions and whatnot, which users can choose to download depending on what maps they wish to use - preserving space. For the actual turn-by-turn navigation the network connection is still used throughout the journey, and this could prove to be expensive for those on tight data plans or are travelling abroad.

According to Plaffo, Nokia has announced an update for Drive coming soon that should hopefully fix this issue.

Nokia Drive will receive an update in the near future that will allow navigation even offline.

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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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GPSTuner, developers of Turn by Turn Navigation (see GPS showdown), a popular GPS navigation app on Windows Phone are set to bring a new update that will feature Navteq maps with offline capabilities. Not only will the app sport offline usage, but it will be competitively priced to keep GPS apps on the Marketplace within most budgets.

The developer states via Facebook that the app for Europe and the US should be updated this week in the Marketplace (Hungary is already available). Australia will happen when they get maps for Australia, evidently. We'll keep an eye out, of course. Good news though for those who don't want to drop a ton of cash on Navigon, especially our European friends.

Via: Plaffo, thanks for the tip!

Update:  We've learned that this new version of Turn by Turn Navigation will be a total on-board navigation app (maps are downloaded to your Windows Phone) much like NAVIGON.  The difference being that you can choose which maps you download. 

Not sure if we'll see Turn by Turn Southeast US or Turn by Turn England (as we are seeing with Turn by Turn Hungary) or if you select the maps to download as you need them.  Regardless, it sounds as if there will be a good bit of flexibility on the map selection that should result in better pricing points and less of a burden on your Windows Phone storage.

No word on the pricing but we do know there will be a trial version.  Expect the new Turn by Turn versions to hit the Marketplace any day and as Rich mentioned, we'll keep an eye out for the new versions and get reviews up as soon as we can.

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Microsoft is reporting that they have discovered unintended behavior with its Windows Phone location services. Following a Federal Lawsuit that claims Microsoft was doing such, Microsoft said they'd look into the claims and sure enough, they found a bug.

In a statement released earlier on Wednesday, Microsoft revealed,

"We have identified an unintended behavior in the Windows Phone 7 software that results in information about nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers being periodically sent to Microsoft when using the Camera application, and, for phones that are configured for US-English, when using the phone’s voice command features (such as “Find Pizza”). For the Camera, the software bug results in the behavior even where you have disabled geo-tagging photos in the Camera application."

Oops.

Microsoft did state that the recent Mango Update eliminates the unintended behavior (lawyer talk for "we didn't know it was there") by the camera application and voice command feature. However, the bugs are still present when using the "Me" feature in the Peoples Hub. Wifi access points and cell tower information is sent to the Windows Phone location service each time a user accesses "Me".

Microsoft is already working on an update to fix the "Me" bug after which, information about nearby Wifi access points and cell towers will be sent only if you agree to allow the "check in" feature of "Me". There was no time frame on this update but I suspect it will be sooner than later.

In the meantime, Microsoft is reminding Windows Phone customers that you can prevent access to location information by applications and the collection of location information by going to Settings>Location and turning this feature off.

While it's never good for any operating system to have such bugs, you've gotta give kudos to Microsoft for moving quickly to identify the problem and working to fix things without delay. You can read more about this disclosure and Microsoft's Privacy Policy here at Microsoft.com.

For more intelligent discussion on the matter, take a look at Rafael Rivera's take on it here: "Dissecting Case 01438 Exhibit B, Part 4"

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Samsung is doing all sorts of cool stuff lately--yesterday we saw their new free printer app and today we have "High Fidelity Position", which "enhances" GPS on Sammy phones.

"Help with pedestrian positioning, especially in areas where GPS is less accurate using other sensors such as accelerometer and compass"

The app has two settings: "Use Sensor Aiding"  where it uses those extra sensors and "GLONASS" or GLObal Navigation Satellite System, developed by the Russians and which you can enable and use at the same time to enhance location availability. (Looks like Sammy is making some new international deals).

What's really interesting though is after you install the "app" it won't show up under Programs but instead it will be listed last under Settings--or rather, this is the first app we've seen that directly modifies or adds on to Settings in Windows Phone. We've seen HTC do this with the Radar/Titan and now Samsung is doing the same, obviously taking advantage of Microsoft's new lenient policy.

Real life experience with it? In Bing Maps, the "circle" around your position which gives the range of variability completely disappears--meaning this is giving us accuracy within a couple of feet. Pretty impressive.

Update: We can confirm that this will only work on Mango devices. Evidently the ability to modify settings is tied to the OS, with only Mango and not NoDo allowing this change.

You can grab "High Fidelity Position" here in the Marketplace. Thanks, Paul, for the tip!

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Trail Buddy - Review

Trail Buddy is a location tracking application for your Windows Phone that can be used for hiking, biking, geocaching and other activities that require GPS and/or mapping. Trail Buddy's features include:

  • Create multiple trails with waypoints (aka points of interest) and tracks
  • Start, pause, stop track recording and view current location information on one easy-to-read page
  • View your location, waypoints and track on a map (accessing maps requires a good quality connection)
  • View accumulated stats at any time for the current trail
  • Pre-define waypoints or capture your current position along a trail - you can even set a waypoint from the map
  • Take pictures directly from the waypoint page

To see how well these features work out for Trail Buddy, take the jump past the break.

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Looking for a new GPS navigation solution for your Windows Phone? Well the good news is NAVIGON, your favorite German nav company, is bringing their flashy and admittedly powerful app from iOS and Android to our very own Windows Phone 7 "later this year". (Up till now, a limited version was available for German T-Mobile users.) From the press release:

"NAVIGON’s premium navigation app soon will be available for Windows Phone 7 users. The app includes many signature features that have made NAVIGON’s apps successful on Android devices and the iPhone, including on-board maps, spoken turn-by-turn directions, visual lane guidance, live traffic information and rerouting, among many other features. NAVIGON’s new app runs on Windows Phone 7.5 and also takes advantage of new features made available to developers with this new release. These features include the augmented reality function Reality Scanner, which provides an instant and effortless way of identifying nearby destinations while on foot; an option to select address information directly from the phone’s contact list; and the ability to save a favorite or home address as a shortcut on the start screen."

The only thing we want is to have this now. Come on, it has a Reality Scanner!  Also notice that this is a Windows Phone 7.5 app? We have a feeling we'll be seeing more of these big name software developers making announcements over the next few weeks as Microsoft goes forward with Windows Phone Mango.

We're pretty excited about NAVIGON, if only because they seem to be  pushing the envelope on GPS navigation, offering features their competition do not have. Hopefully we'll see it in action in a few weeks.

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Update: Sorry folks, appears to be U.S. (and Israel) only for now :-/

We've always wondered whether Microsoft would launch a Google Latitude service--after all, they have Bing, a nice aGPS/WiFi location finder and a solid mobile OS. So it comes as a nice surprise to see them launching "We're In" today:

"We’re In makes organizing get-togethers, carpooling and trying to find people in a crowd a breeze. Any time you want to see where your friends are—We're In can help you. It's simple, invite your friends, and when they join, they'll see your location and you'll see theirs. When the invite expires, so does the shared location – no complicated process to worry about.

We’re In is a great way to save time and frustration when planning your road trip or meeting your friend at the mall – helping you connect with your friend faster."

The best way to describe the service is it's like Latitude combined with Glympse--the former because it allows you to see where your friends are, the latter because these events "expire" meaning you're not tracking people (or being tracked yourself) for eternity. The app allows you to

  • Create a get-together invite for a group of friends
  • See where your friends are
  • Share your location with your friends in real time
  • Control your privacy - your location is only shared with the group of invitees, only for a short time slot

Interestingly, you don't use LiveID to sign up but instead your phone number. Microsoft is looking to make this platform agnostic (it's coming to other mobile OSs) and by keeping LiveID out, Microsoft seems to be keeping the entry-barrier low. That's good news if the system is to grow and catch on.

Oh and the code didn't work with our Google Voice number, just FYI.  If you want the app, here you go: link to the Marketplace.

Source: Bing Community; Thanks, Michael, for the link!

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Garmin adds trial version to StreetPilot

The Garmin StreetPilot is a very good navigation app for your Windows Phone. But at $39.99 some may not be prepared to take a leap of faith. When first released (here's our review) StreetPilot did not have a trial version which made several hesitant to make such a leap.

Fortunately, Garmin has added a trial version to StreetPilot to allow everyone to try before they spend the $40. There's no details on how the trial version is limited.  If Garmin follows suit with the other navigation apps, the trial will be fully functional but limited to how far you can route trips (10-15 mile range).

You can download your free trail of Garmin StreetPilot here (opens Zune) over at the Marketplace.

Thanks goes out to Vanessa for the tip!

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Garmin StreetPilot - Review

Garmin recently released StreetPilot over at the Windows Phone Marketplace. StreetPilot looks really good, is feature rich but carries a healthy price tag ($39.99). While the high price might be justified, Garmin doesn't provide a trial version to StreetPilot to allow Windows Phone users a chance to try it out first before investing the non-refundable $40.

Over the past few days we've taken StreetPilot out for a test drive and after tinkering with StreetPilot, it appears the navigation app is worth the $40 based on the number of features.  But, is it worth the $40 with regards to performance? Well...that may be a different story.

Ease on past the break to read more on StreetPilot and see how it measures up to the sticker price.

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We've seen Windows Phone in space, now we can see it being used in a full on rally race. Evidently, 10 cars in the Rallye International de Bourgogne for 2011 will be sportin' a Windows Phone with custom GPS tracking software. Reason? So you can follow where the cars are on the live Bing maps, of course. Granted, there are a 120 cars involved, so 10 is but a drop in the bucket, but with distributing the phones according to  "the top seed in the back of the pack", there should be a relatively even distribution amongst all the racers.

The race evidently will run for two days and instead of having the phones plugged in (what, no cigarette lighters in rally cars?), the phones will be running with the screen off and all services turned off except phone and data. The phones are reportedly HTC Mozarts running NoDo (guess they couldn't get dev unlocked).

Anyways, it sounds like a cool use of GPS, Windows Phone and custom software by Vivien Chevallier and we look forward to seeing how the whole experiment works out.

Read more at MonSmartphone (French) and follow the race here with the Live Map. (Thanks, Michael B., for the heads up!)

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Travelnapp - Review

I'm sure I wouldn't be the only commuter to admit that after a few drinks at work sometimes my sense of location (on trains between stations) would be slightly inaccurate, by about twenty or so miles. I would continuously fall to sleep then wake up after a few minutes thinking I'm somewhere I'm not. Luckily, when I used to commute to London, my station (Shoeburyness) is at the end of the c2c line and the security guards used to wake me should I be out of it.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same luxury as myself and whether under the influence of an adult beverage or not, sleep can often be the cause of missing a desired stop. This is a real pain should you be on a long distance line - for example London Kings Cross to Glasgow in Scotland and the distance between stops is massive. So what can your Windows Phone 7 do to help you out? Allow me to introduce Travelnapp by Mendzapp.

Read on past the break for the full walkthrough and review of Travelnapp.

Pros: 
free easy to use ingenious idea good amount of configuration
Cons: 
interface is ugly back button doesn't return to main menu
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