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Driving Directions: Google, Sygic-MapMyIndia, SatNav-Nokia

gmGoogle Adds Landmarks To Driving Directions

It launched driving directions to Google Maps in April and has now added landmark related information which it crowd-sourced using MapMaker which allows users to edit maps and add points of interest, features, etc to maps. It now
combines this sourced landmark data, counted turns (“the 2nd right”), intersection names, and road names to the algorithm while calculating directions. It also introduced recently the ability to edit multiple segments of roads to add attributes and different names. Information being added by users is verified and moderated by Google employees, there is a discussion board on Google Groups. The new driving directions are also available on the mobile, the company blog said.

Our Take:lkoWhile Google’s maps did offer a quick solution to navigate through cities without having to buy a roadmap, driving directions were often inaccurate and failed to provide information when required; irrelevant results threw us off many times and road names were not always in sync with what residents called them. This addition of landmarks and multiple names will help fill the gap that exists between reality and a virtual map. However, Google might need to check the fonts or make sure both English and Hindi/Urdu scripts appear – it appeared that Lucknow was completely missing from the map and turned out to be because it was named in Hindi.

SatNav Partners Nokia To Offer Offline Maps For Some Handsets; Airs Grievance

satguideAfter partnering with handset makers HTC, HP, iMate, ASUS and ACER to offer  free maps for 412-plus cities in India (only on Windows-based phones, however), Hyderabad based SatNav Technologies has now tied up with top manufacturer Nokia to offer them to owners of N95 N95, E66, 6110, N82, 6210, E57, 6220, N78, N96 and the N73.

Users can download the application SatGuide from Satguide.in onto their mobiles, we were unable to as it redirected to a RapidShare link. The application is a 62.4 MB file and once downloaded, will not require GPRS connectivity, the maps are offline.

The catch is that users can access the application ten times – after which they will have to either reinstall it or upgrade by paying Rs. 2138. They will then not need to reinstall nor will they face recurring charges if they pay the one-time fee. SatNav is offering a Rs. 1000 cash back offer if the user upgrades within 30 days of the downloading the free version. The application has been downloaded 6856 times, according to the company.

OS Dominance & Monopoly Over Services

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SatNav has interestingly spoken up against Nokia monopolising customers with its own mapping product – Ovi Maps (previously Nokia Maploader), which comes pre-installed on Nokia handsets. On the 5800D, this application is simply called “Location” and includes landmarks, GPS data and positioning. It does not offer an offline map.

SatNav has said, “Since Nokia promotes its own maps and their dealers/distributors have not been as receptive to SatGuide as compared to the response of Windows phone distributors, Nokia users were being deprived of the high quality extensive maps from SatGuide and their excellent localized after sales service and support for the Indian market.”

Yesterday, Microsoft lost a decade long anti-trust case on browsers – for using its Windows operating system dominance to push Internet Explorer to users. Nokia might take SatNav’s hint and offer mobile users a choice of options/services available by other vendors.

Sygic-MapMyIndia For GPS Handsets

Sygic and MapmyIndia have launched an application called MapmyIndia Sygic Mobile Maps that provides maps to 401 Indian cities and an interface for GPS navigation for handsets that are GPS enabled.

The application does not require GPRS connectivity and the maps can be purchased on MapMyIndia’s online shop and will later be made available on Sygic’s too. The price is a whopping Rs. 2490 and no offer related to it.  The application does allow users to edit Points of Interest and set up alerts that will inform them as they approach an ATM or hotel or petrol pump etc. Will a mobile user want to invest and manually configure/personalise this application given the rate technology advances?

The application also allows iPhone users to integrate their contact details with the map and get directions to the street addresses – such a feature would have been enticing if it were enabled for all handsets. A similar phenomenon is occurring in the digital space as well with maps becoming more social and different technologies being synchronised for location-based news, games, communication and services.

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Our Take: This attempt can be seen as one of the many slow ones to cut away at the barriers for adoption for GPS and maps in India, but issues continue to remain unaddressed:  high prices of maps, connectivity issues and GPS being a power-hungry technology. We do not see much changing in the GPS/mapping market as yet.

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