While map apps have long been a standard application on many mobile phones, the fight for who has the best navigation technology is far from over, and now the US government is looking into regulating the popular tools.
Garmin, a leader in navigation tools and technology, announced Viago, a navigation app for both Android and iPhone that costs only $2 and $1 respectively until July 13 to get worldwide maps, as well as lane assistance, junction views, speed limits, weather and traffic. The company has previously charged upwards of $30 for it’s StreetPilot navigation software for mobile devices with multiple in-app purchases, which had hard competition from free apps that offered many similar perks. Viago now offers standard features as well as multiple in-app purchases to allow you to create a customized navigation app, though some of these features are still offered for free on other apps on both Android and iOS.
As Garmin pushes out this discounted technology, the US government is looking to solidify regulations on mobile devices while operating a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is currently developing guidelines on handheld devices while driving, and is planning on addressing the use of GPS navigation tools. The NHTSA clarified that it has the authority to “regulate and recall specific electronic devices, including certain apps on handheld devices, including those that can be considered accessories or additions to vehicles.” The impact that regulations such as this could have on navigation apps has been widely speculated.
In the wake of these potential regulations, Google Maps hit one billion downloads at the end of May, and the app has evolved to offer walking directions, transit schedules, 3D maps, indoor navigation, mall maps, accident warnings in real-time, and global travel assistance. On the other side, Apple Maps still seems a good ways behind- no mention of Maps updates were made at Apple’s WWDC this month, potentially showing that the company is still scrambling to create a reliable navigation tool after parting with Google two years ago.
Location and GPS technologies can be used for more than just navigation tools- location-based marketing using smartphone location data has proven to be useful for businesses and accepted by consumers. Urban Airship, a mobile marketing provider, analyzed more than 4 billion push messages from over 1,000 apps and determined that 62 percent of users had no issues with sharing their location, and the opt-in rate for providing that location data was an average of 60 to 80 percent.
Location and navigation tools also make for great apps- the Texas Historical Landmarks app uses GPS technology to put the history of Texas into the palm of your hand with a database of over 14,000 state landmarks. The app allows users to view historical landmarks within a map interface, favorite landmarks, make personal notes per landmark, and push notifications when approaching a landmark. The app makes for a perfect road-trip companion.