Google Maps Navigation comes to Android 1.6

Google Maps Navigation at work.One of the most exciting parts of the Motorola Droid launch was the inclusion of Google Maps Navigation, a free turn-by-turn GPS system from Google. At first the feature was only compatible with phones running Android 2.0, which is only the Droid. Today Google announced that it would be moving the nav system down to Android 1.6, opening up the service to phones like the MyTouch 3G and G1.

I’d call this a big win for Android users. Until this update the hope was that some enterprising developer would hack the thing down to 1.6. This still leaves out the Motorola CLIQ and HTC Droid Eris, but hey, it’s better than the original situation. The 1.6 release also adds layers, allowing you to overlay information on the map, like Wikipedia articles on local points of interest and public transit lines. The one thing 1.6 is missing is the “navigate to” voice command, so you’ll have to enter everything by hand. Life’s tough, isn’t it?

Samsung’s Omnia Update Unlocks GPS

Samsung Omnia gets some GPS love.There’s some good news for all you Samsung Omnia owners out there. Today Samsung released an update that unlocks your GPS functionality, giving third-party applications a chance to help you get where you need to go.

As I’m sure you’re painfully aware, the only way to get from point A to point B with your phone was to use Verizon’s VZ Navigator. If limiting your options wasn’t enough, the service also runs a hefty $9.99/month, $2.99/day. Giving GPS access to other applications means you could find yourself a couple hamburgers richer each month.

You can download the update by following this handy link (thanks, CNet!). As for the other goodies in the update, you’ll get the newest Microsoft Adaptation Kit Upgrade, AKU 1.5.1, and that Bluetooth support for VZ Access Manager you’ve been waiting for. Drop a note in the comments if you’re having any trouble.

UPDATE: Garmin 310XT Now Available

Garmin 310XTA couple months ago we ran a feature on the Garmin 310XT – a super duper all-in-wonder fitness watch that was as of yet unavailable. Rejoice you masochistic types – Jeff from runningcenters.com dropped by to let us know that the watch is now available on that site for early release.

You can check our post on the watch at this link. Here’s what Running Centers has to say:

Finally, a GPS-enabled training device that isn’t afraid of the water. The rugged Forerunner 310XT is the triathlete’s indispensable training tool — a GPS-enabled, swim-proof trainer that tracks bike and run data and sends it wirelessly to your computer. This multi-sport device has up to 20 hours of battery life, tracks distance, pace and heart rate (optional), and goes from wrist to bike in seconds…

Thanks for the update, Jeff.

OS 3.0: The Big News of WWDC?

Find My iPhoneWith all the excitement surrounding the new iPhone release it’s difficult not to notice the absence of a certain, rumored to be healthy CEO. Apple restructured their laptop line, announced two OS updates, and announced the newest iPhone, all without their captain at the helm. Hopefully Jobs will soon be well enough to return to his handicapped parking space.

We’ve talked Macbooks, we’ve talked iPhone, but Apple spent most of the keynote on OS 3.0 and the new options it yields for developers. All of this stuff was really old hat – landscape keyboard, copy and paste, tethering, MMS. The big disappointment so far is that tethering and MMS are both unsupported by AT&T at this time, with support apparently coming at the end of the summer. Why AT&T can’t get it together when 20 other carriers can baffles me.

One cool feature coming to OS 3.0 on the 17th is “Find My iPhone.” The service, which is only available to MobileMe customers, allows you to locate your phone on a map using a web browser. Using the service you can also send alerts to the phone, including a message stating, “This phone is lost. If found, please call me at [number you specify].” (You can actually input any message, this is just the one Apple demoed.) You can do this from a distance, allowing you, hopefully, to get your phone back. Find My iPhone also includes a sort of kill pill, allowing you to remote wipe the phone. It would be really nice if it could disable the phone, rendering it useless to whomever snags it should they not acquiesce with your return requests. The remote wipe is really there to ensure your privacy, though, allowing you to restore the phone to factory settings from a distance. I smell some nasty pranks coming with this one. Don’t leave your MobileMe password where your friends can find it.

Apple relinquished the stage late in their 3.0 presentation, allowing developers to showcase new functions like GPS navigation and in-game purchases. The developer presentations dragged on, plagued twice by technical difficulties and eating up precious minutes. By the 100 minute mark I would bet few people were hoping for an iPhone update. It came, though, fitting the remaining time slot well as more of an evolution than a revolution.

Charging Gadgets Is A Walk In The Park

nPower PEGYou’re going green, trying to reduce your energy footprint, but that damn iPhone of yours keeps dying. Tremont Electric has your solution.

Called the nPower PEG (Personal Energy Generator), Tremont’s newest device harnesses kinetic energy to generate electricity and power your devices. According to the company, the PEG is capable of charging an average device up to 80% capacity in just an hour of average movement, like walking. Because the PEG comes equipped with a USB 2.0 jack, it’s compatible with just about every device on the market.

I’ve seen this type of thing before, usually in the style of a belt worn around your hips for maximum shaking on impact. The PEG, though, doesn’t need to be worn. Trow it in a backpack, a purse, even just across your passenger’s seat. Virtually any movement will start to generate the juice you need to keep your gadgets at max capacity.

According to Tremont Electric, “If our entire target market used the PEG to recharge their cell phones for an hour each day, instead of plugging into a wall outlet, they would reduce the amount of electricity needed from the grid by 25.4 million kilowatts. That’s enough energy to power 21,000 households for an entire year.” Pretty huge change for a small device.

The nPower PEG is just 9 inches tall with a 1.5 inch diameter and weighs 9 ounces. A release date remains to be announced, but you can sign up and be one of the first to get preorder information.

Garmin’s 310XT is a Perfect Training Tool

Garmin 310XTIf you’re big into running, swimming, diving, cycling, or moving fast in any capacity that could up your heart rate, the Garmin 310XT is the perfect watch for you. According to the guys at Wired, who were first to get their hands on this spiffy little gadget, the 310XT can do just about anything you would ever want to do.

Consider the following: automatic triathlon mode, heart rate monitoring, cadence monitoring, calorie, speed, distance, elevation measuring, benchmarking for heart rates and speeds, integration with the hottest cycling meters, and that’s just for starters. Yeah, it’s that awesome. It can do all of that, and most of it with just a button press or two.

The watch comes in at $350, which is on the pricey side for what is clearly a sports watch, but for all it can do, it could easily be worth it.

Source: Wired

Big Mother is Watching

The Eye Sees AllI was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who trusted me. Sure, they occasionally took a look at the history and cookies on the family machine, but their snooping never went any further.

Woe to you less fortunate kids (or husbands, or wives) with AT&T a-GPS capable phones. Today the company launched FamilyMap, a location service that can track up to two phones from any web browser, mobile or PC-based. Parents can set up alerts and even ping children’s phones to let them know the big eye-in-the-sky is watching. The basic service costs $10 a month. At $15 you can track up to 5 phones. Sorry, Octo-mom, you’ll have to tether a few kids together to keep tabs on ‘em.

Via phonescoop

Just Released – XROAD G-Map

The first turn-by-turn GPS app for the iPhone was released this week from a company called XROAD. And to pretty glowing reviews:

xroads g-map

The iPhone has unquestionably dominated the mobile phone industry for the past two years. One of its biggest advantages over other devices is the long list of applications of every variety that can be downloaded to it. There are “apps” for everything from keeping track of your Twitter feed to following your favorite baseball team. Finally, after nearly two years, a developer has released the first real-time, turn-by-turn navigation application for the iPhone. XROADS G-Map ($19) is clearly the best real-time navigation option for an iPhone right now, but we ran it through the same tests we would a stand-alone TomTom, Garmin or Mio system to see how it fared with the big boys of navigation.

While there is room for improvement in this product, this is also the first attempt at a real-time turn-by-turn navigation application for the iPhone. As long as XROADS is willing to follow what other developers have done by offering free updates, this app is sure to take a chunk out of the GPS navigation market.

Wow, that’s not what I expected for the iPhone’s first crack at a turn-by-turn GPS app. Kudos to XROAD. And at $20, this app is a great deal. But there are some obvious improvements to be had.

First, and foremost in my mind is voice routing. When I drive I am usually paying attention to the road and listening to the radio. I don’t mind getting interrupted to let me know a turn is coming. In fact, I expect it. I can’t be expected to be watching the road and a map at the same time. It’s not safe or fun.

Also, the lack of street names is tough. Especially when driving on crowded city streets. When there are many streets coming up, it is nice to be able to be able to check the street you’re turning onto before you get there. And even better, the street before that.

Knocks aside, this looks to be a winner which is hopefully a good sign of things to come. XROAD did the best they could do for now without using all the hard drive space on the iPhone. Some small improvements here and there would blow away the competition. Especially when the competition costs about 10 time more.