An iPhone 2.1 software update is on its way, providing a number of fixes for the buggy iPhone 2.0 software released in conjunction with the 3G iPhone. Of interest is an upgrade to the iPhone’s GPS that enables the phone to not only find your current location, but also determine your velocity and direction. Could this be the beginning of the rumored turn-by-turn navigation we’ve been expecting for the iPhone? Remember the iPhone SDK prohibits developers from offering apps utilizing turn-by-turn directions and Apple product manager Greg Joswiak felt the need to publicly refute the New York Time’s David Pogue’s claim that the Infineon receiver inside the new iPhone is too small to handle such advanced navigational applications. It seems all signs are pointing to a “yes” response to the above question.
If turn-by-turn navigation for the new iPhone eventually comes, it will be a devastating blow for standalone PND manufacturers such as Garmin and TomTom. While reviews for the GPS functionality of the 3G iPhone have been mixed so far, the inception of turn-by-turn navigation combined with the increasing number of developers writing apps for the iPhone could prove a deadly combo that’ll outdo anything PND makers could come up with on their own.
On a slightly different note is another iPhone development that could have applications relevant to the mobile phone’s GPS. AT&T is working on a web-based platform called Speech Mashups that recognizes your speech via a remote server which translates your speech into commands your iPhone can understand. This way, say if you’re driving, you can control the handset completely by voice command. Right now Speech Mashups only works with web-coded apps, but nothing native to the iPhone. For GPS users this isn’t so bad; most of the interesting GPS apps will come from outside developers anyway. But once a variety of navigational apps come to be, the ability to “interact” with your iPhone in a human way in order to help it help you find your way seems truly futuristic.
So far AT&T has made no promise of an actual official product launch for Speech Mashups; currently it’s more of a research project. But iSpeak, which is an actual iPhone app, also promises voice activation for the iPhone and it’ll work where Speech Mashups doesn’t-anything native to the handset in the first place.
And so the advancement of mobile navigation continues…