The iPhone as a GPS/SatNav

You may have seen the latest Steve Jobs WWDC Keynote and iPhone adverts and be wondering about how good it will perform as a GPS device (as you would any modern mobile phone) or for Location Based Services (LBS).

A lot of people are looking forward to the release of the iPhone, and I guess only time will tell as to how it performs, but I can see some things which may backfire with the fully online (or at least that’s what it seems) platform.

  • Steve hasn’t mentioned anything about GPS support within the iPhone, but I don’t see it not having support.
  • Unless there are some sophisticated caching mechanisms, maps are going to be unavailable in areas of low mobile network coverage.
  • Points of Interest appear built into the phone are most probably the normal Google Maps, and possibly not very customisable.
  • Other POIs are capable through the web browser, with AJAX these websites can appear as if they are native applications on the phone, but only through clicking on an address/location of some sort to trigger the Google Maps view of that point.

I hope to be proven wrong, but those are my reservations. If I am proven correct, this would surely be a major issue for anyone (like myself) who uses GPS/GIS in anger. Any ideas?

Published by

Duncan Sample

A Solution Engineer at Nokia Siemens Networks with interests in converging technologies, Location Based Services and information management.

5 thoughts on “The iPhone as a GPS/SatNav”

  1. Not really. GeoIP is not accurate to the town the user is in, it is based around the owner of the IP, which would be the ISP/mobile operator in this case.

    LBS can be done using mobile cells to triangulate the location of the device, but this is not feasibly possible using 2G/2.5G technologies, only in 3G does the operator have the ability to easily produce LBS solutions, and as we all know, the iPhone doesn’t support 3G.

  2. I had have many hopes. Now we know Google Apple partnership is not so deep as we would like. I hoped Apple would use Google Gears to solve local caching mechanism.
    I hoped Apple cross-worked with Google for some image processing capabilities bought by Google from Neven Vision. It would redifine local and mobile search and marketing.
    None of these prove right.

    Google Maps are not powerfull as I’d like tailored around Google Local, Maps APIs.

    Just my wishful thinking…

  3. As you probably already know by now there is no GPS or LBS on the iPhone currently. With GMaps you have to say where you are in order to search. Once you are on a location though it seems to remember (not going back to full US) so you can search locally very easily.

  4. I had thought they would probably allow your current GPS position to be plotted, but I doubted the navigation support. It’s very disappointing that you can’t plot anything from a GPS on the map, but not too surprising that it can’t do navigation.

    It would have been a nice platform for some proper SatNav software, but oh well, I’m happy with my N95 :o)

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