GPS chang­ing di­rec­tions

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH - ROD CH­ESTER

CON­SUMERS once bought a cam­era to take snaps, a por­ta­ble mu­sic player for tunes, and a GPS nav­i­ga­tor to get them from A to B.

For an in­creas­ingly num­ber of peo­ple, their smart­phone per­forms all of those jobs.

You need only walk into an elec­tron­ics store to see that while the por­ta­ble nav­i­ga­tion de­vice mar­ket has not dis­ap­peared, it has cer­tainly dwin­dled.

Dawn Id­dings, Garmin’s busi­ness de­vel­op­ment vice- pres­i­dent, re­cently told MIT Tech­nol­ogy Re­view: “It’s not a mys­tery that the per­sonal nav­i­ga­tion mar­ket is in a pe­riod of de­cline. Mo­bile has per­me­ated each one of our mar­kets.”

The ded­i­cated GPS mar­ket is re­spond­ing to the push from smart­phones in two ways: By drop­ping prices and in­creas­ing fea­tures.

Five years ago, a top- of- therange nav­i­ga­tion unit for your car would set you back $ 700. Now, the top units are about $ 250.

A smart­phone can do the job, but there are key ar­eas where a ded­i­cated de­vice has ad­van­tages.

Us­ing your phone as your dig­i­tal map can drain bat­tery life ( as­sum­ing you’re not charg­ing as you drive), your map can be in­ter­rupted by phone calls, and down­load­ing di­rec­tions can add to your data costs.

TomTom Asia Pa­cific man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris Kear­ney says the new TomTom Go is an ex­am­ple of how the smart­phone and tablet ex­plo­sion is im­pact­ing por­ta­ble nav­i­ga­tion de­vices.

In­stead of us­ing a menu to in­put de­tails of your jour­ney, the TomTom Go’s open­ing screen is a map where you can lo­cate an ad­dress by zoom­ing, pinch­ing and tap­ping in the same way you’d use a tablet.

“Peo­ple get frus­trated if they can’t use a new de­vice in the way they use a tablet or a phone,” he says.

Mr Kear­ney says re­search shows peo­ple who use a map on a smart­phone to nav­i­gate a car jour­ney want to step up.

“They get a taste of dig­i­tal nav­i­ga­tion from a phone and then they want to go to a dig­i­tal de­vice,” he says.

Mag­el­lan Aus­tralia mar­ket­ing man­ager Noeleen Lech­ner says the key ad­van­tages ded­i­cated units have over smart­phones in­cludes traf­fic up­dates and reg­u­lar map up­dates.

The new My450LMT by Nav­man in­tro­duces monthly map up­dates which the com­pany calls “rapid map re­fresh”.

Map up­dates are a fea­ture in the GPS in­dus­try that have gone from an­nual to quar­terly and now monthly, re­flect­ing the map­ping in­dus­try’s ef­forts to keep up to date with con­stantly chang­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Changes to the Aus­tralian maps by Nav­man’s map provider Here, for­merly known as Nokia Maps, last year in­cluded 42,000km of new roads, changes to more than 7500 street names, 10,000 turn re­stric­tions, and the ad­di­tion of 1800 one- way streets.

Ms Lech­ner sums up the choice of smart­phone ver­sus ded­i­cated de­vice as “dif­fer­ent strokes for dif­fer­ent folks”.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence that peo­ple have with nav­i­ga­tion on their smart­phone is in­cred­i­bly dif­fer­ent to the ex­pe­ri­ence peo­ple have with a ded­i­cated de­vice,” she says.

“We’re not deny­ing that smart­phones have had an ef­fect on the por­ta­ble nav­i­ga­tion de­vice mar­ket but the num­bers in Aus­tralia say there is still a very solid mar­ket.

“We’re not stupid. We’re ac­knowl­edg­ing that peo­ple are us­ing [ smart­phones] more of­ten but what we’re do­ing is de­sign­ing the right prod­uct for the right time.”

MAPS VS APPS: Ded­i­cated nav­i­ga­tion de­vices are search­ing for an ad­van­tage against smart­phones.

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