Foursquare nets Mayor free eats in North Carolina

Posted in Apps on December 31st, 2009 by Justin – Comments

foursquare android 133x300 Foursquare nets Mayor free eats in North CarolinaMobile couponing has been part of location-aware Foursquare’s business model since day one, but today one business decided the best deal equals free. Blynk Organic, in Charlotte, North Carolina, has decided to let the Mayor of its location eat for free.

To become Mayor, a person needs to have checked-in to Blynk Organic more than any other Foursquare user. This is definitely an incentive to visit the eatery and a great way to get some free press coverage. Smart business move on behalf of Blynk Organic.

How long this will last is an unknown at the moment, but expect more deals like this to pop up through Foursquare and other place-oriented LBS social networks in 2010.

Everytrail, mobile GPS travel app, raises $1 million

Posted in Apps, Geotagging on December 29th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

everytrail logo Everytrail, mobile GPS travel app, raises $1 millionEverytrail, a platform for sharing GPS tracks, trips and associated geotagged content, has raised $1 million in Series A financing, according to Techcrunch. Everytrail, owned by GlobalMotion Media, has also released Everytrail 3 for the iPhone today with over 200, 000 shared trips to explore and the capability to share your own. You can also share your trips on Facebook and Twitter.

The funding was raised from the Band of Angels as well as domestic and international private investors. I’m not sure exactly how the funding will be used as Everytrail has already built out many desktop features and mobile apps since it first launched in October 2006. Staff expansion, possibly. In addition to its iPhone application, it also has apps available for Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile.

The mobile apps, especially Everytrail 3 for the iPhone, are extremely simple to use. It’s just a matter of pressing a Start button in order to begin GPS tracking. While it tracks, users are able to upload photos and textual user-generated content. This eliminates the time-based synchronization hassles required for adding pictures to some GPS trackers.

You can download Everytrail 3 for the iPhone now from the App Store.

10 geospatial industry trends to watch in 2010

Posted in Apps, GPS Manufacturers, GPS Software, Geospatial Technology, Industry, Mapping, Mobile, Netbooks, Venture Capital on December 28th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

2009 was definitely the year that the geospatial industry took off from a mainstream consumer perspective. Sure location-based applications and services have been around for years, but not for the average Joe/Jane like you and I. This year will be the first year that I actually put together a prediction post, my thoughts regarding what will trend in the industry in 2010. It’s part of my goal to focus on content quality this year which I’ll talk about in a future post. So here goes. These are a few of the areas I think will be important to watch in 2010 and I hope you add your thoughts and opinions in the comments after the post.

1. Augmented reality explodes-and by explodes I’m not referring to the marker-based applications and browsers on the market now. While some industry insiders like to badmouth the augmented reality stuff available now, every successful industry needs to start somewhere. I think 2010 will bring a proliferation of location-based augmented reality apps running the gamut from marketing/advertising to social networking, and even filtering back up to military uses.

2. Game mechanics proliferate-right now Foursquare and Gowalla are the two biggest GPS-using mobile applications that have successfully incorporated game mechanics. Both have been quite successful acquiring users that use the respective apps repeatedly, though neither have the user base (and probably never will) that Facebook and Twitter have. I think we’ll see something from Twitter in this area in 2010 with the launch of its Geolocation API though I think it’ll be in the form of an acquisition (like its recent GeoAPI buy). Once Facebook incorporates location into its platform (which I think will be in 2010), I think we’ll see some interesting uses of game mechanics here as well.

3. Virtual goods and mobile coupons will be huge-I’ve talked about virtual goods before as a fitting business model for location-based applications. Geographical locations, especially those with some sort of historical significance, lend themselves to having a monetizable virtual good attached. Plus the next-to-nothing cost of a virtual good isn’t threatening to the average consumer, even young ones. Eventually though, and I think 2010 will be the year, mobile coupons will a massive industry. Especially once they can be tied to location-not only outdoor location, but in-store location as well. This year I was impressed with the “mobile deal” app usage by people looking for holiday buying deals. Next year the mobile deal apps will be much more complex, contextualized with geolocation, and even more popular!

4. Google-need I say more. Google’s movement in the geospatial industry in the past year has been something like a rocket taking off into space. It seemed like every week the company had a new geo-announcement pertaining to its Maps and Earth platforms, for both end users and developers. With innovations like Google SketchUp making it so easy to create 3D building models, the Google Earth platform will move increasingly toward a 3D interface in 2010 and count on many more information layers becoming available. Possibly most significantly, Google Maps Navigation, free and open source GPS navigation software that is only available legally in the United States will become globally (or at least moving in that direction) available. What that means for Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, Mio and other dedicated PND and GPS handheld manufacturers remains to be seen. Free GPS software that can be used by Garmin and others will also have a direct effect on the viability of companies such as NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas. Right now, on a global scale, both companies have better overall mapping data than Google. But remember that Google cut Tele Atlas as its mapping data supplier in the US recently and that trend will continue.

5. Android LBS apps surpass iPhone LBS apps-okay, maybe not in quantity. Right now the iPhone app platform is the place to be, but with the sheer amount of apps in the App Store it’s becoming tougher for developers to stand out. That goes for LBS apps as well as other types. In 2010 though, we’ll see a ton of Android phones hit the market and they’ll be better than the Droid (imagine that). With more Android phones available, and more Android APIs to work with for developers, I think we’ll see many LBS developers creating innovative applications for the Android Market. I don’t really consider the Blackberry App World, Palm App Catalog, and Nokia Ovi Store as major players at the moment.

6. Search engine results incorporating location-you could argue that there is already Google Local Search and other search engine niches that return search results that are local to the person searching. But I think that geolocation in real-time will play a part in search results, not only on the mobile phone but on the desktop as well. Google and Microsoft already incorporate real-time Twitter results in their search results. Indirectly that means Tweets appended with location information appear in search results almost immediately. Eventually location, whether it be indirectly or directly through mobile search, etc., will play a huge part in search engine results. Especially as search algorithms move to real-time rankings. Look for movement here in 2010.

7. Venture capital cash flowing again-in the first half of 2009, venture capital investments were fairly slow given the recessionary economic environment. In the second half of the year though, investments picked up, and quite a few were in the LBS industry. I think VC cash will flow in 2010 into the LBS industry with a focus on monetization platforms (mobile advertising, etc.) and back-end infrastructure (think SCVNGR-it’s a company that has my antennae pointing skyward). The first half of 2010 will probably include quite a few VC investments into consumer application-focused companies as well. I don’t really expect anything in the way of IPOs, though I’ve heard rumors that Loopt may be heading in the is directions. In terms of acquisition behaviour, look for Google and Twitter to gobble up quite a few smaller LBS companies. Facebook may acquire a few LBS companies of its own as I expect its engineers are working on the geolocation aspect of the social networking platform behind the scenes.

8. Location-based mobile video-the ubiquity of GPS-aware mobile phones and even digital cameras has made geotagging photos easy. Just browse through Flickr and Picasa and you’ll seee millions of personal pictures with latitude and longitude coordinates attached. I think 2010 will be the year of location-based mobile video. Mobile video platforms like Qik are incredibly useful and growing quickly in popularity as more and more people have smartphones with generous data plans. 2010 will bring new mobile video platforms that focus on contextualizing videos with location information. Whether this will be from established platforms or from new names I’m not entirely sure. Microsoft Research has a project called Mobicast which stitches mobile video from multiple mobile phones together, kind of like Photosynth does for pictures. In the future Mobicast may be able to figure out how to stitch together multiple video streams from a single location into a single stream using GPS metadata. This is the future of mobile video and we’ll see it begin this year.

9. Every gadget to include a GPS chip-I admit this might not happen in 2010, but things will move in this direction. Dedicated PNDs used to be the sole domain of the GPS chip, but in the next few years every mobile phone will have one, not just smartphones. In 2009 digital camera and netbook makers began to incorporate GPS chips into their respective gadgets, albeit only occasionally. In 2010 I think most netbooks will have GPS chips and they make great little navigation gadgets with apps like Google Maps. In fact, Google’s own Chrome OS-based netbook will supposedly include a GPS chip and one-click Google Maps access. From a cost perspective, the addition of a GPS chip isn’t much to a company with good distribution, but has a high value for the end user. Most digital cameras and possibly video cameras this year will also include an embedded GPS chip. Geotagging pictures is popular among the average electronics user now and this trend will extend to video I’m assuming. Next will come the incorporation of GPS into every gadget imaginable. Just imagine the Amazon Kindle  10 geospatial industry trends to watch in 2010with a GPS chip. Can’t find an ebook? Just launch Google Maps and access an application that routes you to the nearest bookstore stocking your book!

10. PND prices continue to plummet-now that pretty well every GPS manufacturer pumps out hardware and software with the same features, with different names, they can only compete on price. That drives price down and that’s why it isn’t uncommon to net a decent GPS navigator online for south of $100. Even in the middle of summer. This year it won’t be uncommon to net a Garmin or TomTom GPS, an entry-level one, for $50. ‘Nuff said.

Brutus the wolf gets a GPS collar, travels the Arctic

Posted in Apps, GPS Manufacturers, Geospatial Technology on December 28th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

brutus gps Brutus the wolf gets a GPS collar, travels the Arctic

Living in Canada, I’m quite familiar with the site of Canada Geese making the rounds from North to South and back again every year. I’m not quite far enough north to be acquainted with the wolves though.

Researchers from the US Geological Survey have managed to attach a GPS collar to one wolf, Brutus, and the incoming data has revealed some fascinating things about the travails and travels wolf packs endure every winter.

One trip, an 80 mile jaunt from Ellesmere Island to Axel Heiberg Island, was completed in just 84 hours. And that’s with GPS coordinates being taken every 12 hours meaning distance is measured from point to point in a straight line. As you can probably imagine, wolves probably travel much more distance in the intervening, untracked time. You can follow the adventures of Brutus and his pack complete with pictures and maps on the the Wolves of the High Arctic blog.


Chicwalks iPhone app brings shopping walks to Vancouver for the Olympics (deals included!)

Posted in Apps on December 28th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

chicwalks vancouver Chicwalks iPhone app brings shopping walks to Vancouver for the Olympics (deals included!)With the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics just around the corner, British Columbia’s metropolitan hub is permeated by the smell of commerce. The opportunities for retailers in the Vancouver area will be huge in the coming couple of months, but one of the big challenges each will face as the city receives an influx of potential consumers, is standing out in the massive crowd. and its brand new Chicwalks Vancouver iPhone app could be one potential solution for retailers that happen to lend themselves to a good review.

The brainchild of Karen Henrich, provides mapped shopping walks of Paris, Vancouver, and soon, San Francisco. It’s a great alternative to clunky paper guidebooks for a generation that, with great probability, owns an iPhone. The $4.99 app, available now in the iTunes App Store, currently includes 9 walks with over 1, 000 business listings, in-app vendor offers (AKA coupons), and GPS routing that should save you the hassle of searching for what you happen to be looking for.

gastown Chicwalks iPhone app brings shopping walks to Vancouver for the Olympics (deals included!)This is an application I can see taking off in 2010 because it lends itself to mobile coupons and advertising so easily. Everyone wants a good deal-many of the deal-aggregating iPhone apps did quite well this holiday season. By building out each city by establishing relationships with local retailers, Chicwalks could be one of the few LBS apps that find themselves profitable quickly, and without the use of venture capital funding. The big question is whether or not the app will be able to proliferate quickly from city to city before a bigger company, with more cash to grow quickly, takes this idea for themselves!

Download Chicwalks Vancouver from the App Store

Pedal Brain Synapse brings ANT+ wireless to the iPhone/iPod Touch

Posted in Apps on December 28th, 2009 by Justin – Comments
Pedal Brain Synapse

Pedal Brain Synapse

Recently I’ve started to run again in the hopes of running the Manitoba Marathon in 2010, and with plans of running some ultramarathons in the coming few years. Because of this you can bet you’ll probably be seeing a bit more emphasis on running-oriented LBS apps and gadgets in the future. Today though I came across something in the cycling realm that needs to be mentioned because it competes with Garmin’s Edge cycling GPS series, among others.

The gadget, from a startup called Pedal Brain and called the Pedal Brain Synapse, lets cyclists hook up their iPhone or iPod Touch to other exercise gadgets that use the ANT+ wireless protocol. Transferred data can be analysed and interpreted in real-time so that cyclists can track their performance over the duration of a bike ride. It can also use GPS to locate your team members-which would probably apply more to professional types.

As with most sports gadgets, data can be uploaded to a dedicated website after the ride. It can be stored and analyzed over time with a paid subscription, or just stored for a couple of weeks if the cyclist opts for the free version.

Either which way, Pedal Brain Synapse is a bit of a ground-breaking gadget in my opinion because its use of ANT+ protocol pits it against the Garmin’s of the world. The same companies already struggling with mobile phones eating away their market share in the automotive navigation industry.

For the cyclists out there: what would you do? Fork out between $130 and $190 for the Pedal Brain Synapse and then pay for the online subscription? Or just purchase something like the Garmin Edge 500 outright and not have to worry about subscription fees?

The Apple-approved accessory is expected to ship in March 2010 with distribution through local bike shops.


MotionX Drive GPS iPhone app gives turn-by-turn directions for 99 cents

Posted in Apps on December 24th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

motionx drive MotionX Drive GPS iPhone app gives turn by turn directions for 99 cents

Turn-by-turn GPS directions are great, but when it comes to the iPhone, applications that provide such greatness don’t exactly come with a low price. Except for MotionX Drive, an application that provides turn-by-turn directions, NAVTEQ maps downloaded on the fly, online search for points of interest, traffic data within routing, and other basics provided by connected GPS apps. Where MotionX Drive differs though, is in its price. Normally that would be only $3 per month or $25 through in-app purchasing. But if you buy now, you’ll only fork out $0.99 for a month of full services after which you can continue paying or get rid of it. There isn’t really any excuse not to give it a try over the holidays though-get it here.

(Image Credit: MotionX)


Magellan iPhone car kit pre-order available, RoadMate for iPhone version 1.1 launches

Posted in Apps, Magellan on December 24th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

roadmate for iphone Magellan iPhone car kit pre order available, RoadMate for iPhone version 1.1 launchesMagellan’s premium car kit for the iPhone is up for pre-order and its RoadMate for iPhone application has been updated to version 1.10.

The car kit works with the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and the second-generation iPod Touch. It works with the latter because it has a built-in GPS receiver. It also features an adjustable mount so it can fit skins and most hard cases, rotates for portrait and landscape use, has Bluetooth, in-car charging, an amplified speaker and a noise-canceling speakerphone. Its compatibility with skins seems to be the only major difference between this car kit and TomTom’s. In common with TomTom is its ridiculous price-$129.99 in its pre-order phase. It’s expected to ship January 7, 2010. My advice is to wait awhile on this as the price will undoubtedly drop after Magellan realizes that no one will pay such a high price!

The RoadMate for iPhone application includes a number of new features in version 1.10. Most significant among them is compatibility with the second-generation iPod Touch. Also new is customizable speed warnings and multi-destination routing, Find My Car in the OneTouch menu, a variety of UI enhancements, and more. You can download RoadMate for the iPhone from the App Store for $60 until January 3, 2010 after which it’ll return to its full $100 price tag.

magellancarkit Magellan iPhone car kit pre order available, RoadMate for iPhone version 1.1 launches

Twitter acquires GeoAPI

Posted in Apps, Geospatial Technology on December 24th, 2009 by Justin – Comments

geoapi Twitter acquires GeoAPI

Just last month Twitter launched its Geolocation API which allows developers to create application features which use add location information to tweets. It’s no surprise that a plethora of developers have already incorporated the feature into their respective works and Twitter has decided to take advantage of this.

Yesterday on the Twitter blog, the company revealed that it had acquired Mixer Labs, creator of GeoAPI, a database of over 16 million points of interest (and a variety of other tools) that developers can use to add geospatial information to tweets.

Twitter hasn’t revealed the financial terms of the deal.

Navigon iPhone app gets a holiday price cut, feature updates

Posted in Apps, Navigon on December 18th, 2009 by Justin – Comments
navigon iphone 199x300 Navigon iPhone app gets a holiday price cut, feature updatesNavigon is looking to compete with TomTom’s $50 iPhone app with a deal of its own that looks better than TomTom’s offering.
Not only is Navigon slashing the price of its MobileNavigator iPhone app from $90 to $60, but the company has also released a version 1.4 update with a whole bunch of new features. The new features include:
  • Google Local Search and enhanced pedestrian mode
  • turn-by-turn route list that provides a detailed list of directions that automatically updates during navigation
  • favorites are displayed as flagged icons on the map
  • Traffic Live messages can be browsed with finger swipes
  • contacts can be set as interim destinations with one-tap (this can also be accessed directly from the phone book)
  • MobileNavigator augments a weak iPhone GPS signal with its own positioning estimations and active route guidance is automatically switched off until a stronger signal is again available
  • iPhone fingertip control now allows 3D zooming in addition to 2D
  • drivers are given important country information such as speed limits when a border crossing is detected
  • Audiobook Mode rewinds a second of an audiobook being played when interrupted by voice directions
  • Direct Help provides easy access to local emergency organizations
  • the Coordinates feature allows users to use exact latitude and longitude coordinates as a destination, allows for them to be emailed, and even launched in Google Maps outside of Mobile Navigator
That’s a ton of great new features to accompany a substantial price cut. There is a catch, however. The price reduction is only in effect until January 11, 2010 after which it’ll presumably return to its regular $90 price.