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Skobbler launches free sat nav for Google Android phones


Article by: Mike Barrett
Date: 19 Jul 2010

pocketgpsworld.comSkobbler added a new Free Navigation application for the Android platform today. In an interesting turn of events from just over a year ago when Skobbler won the prestigious Navteq LBS Challenge Award with their SatNav application they have parted ways and have adopted the new kid on the block Open Street Maps as the mapping provider.

Skobbler was the first independent company to produce a Free Turn by Turn navigation application which has been a run away success on the iPhone. With 'sales' of 82,000 apps in just four weeks the take up has been amazing.

Obviously nothing comes for free and there is a price to be paid for everything. In Skobbler's case it is funded from advertising. Adverts are displayed in locations that do not interfere with the prime purpose of navigation such as at the end of routing. This lack of revenue will also have a price, maybe in the amount of development effort that can be allocated to improving the application.

The use of Open Street Maps is an interesting decision. Obviously this is part of what helps in the deployment of a Free App, but the OSM maps are not yet perfect. Not that I am criticising community based open source projects, far from it. It is interesting to see what the effect of OSM will have on Navteq and Tele Atlas in the future. The standard of the maps is not yet up to professional standard in some areas, as it all depends on the dedication of users in specific areas.

My area is just about perfect, mainly due to myself and another GPS enthusiast spending many hours out surveying the local roads and then the evenings putting it all into the OSM map editor. This works out fine if there are enough people willing to give up their time and effort to do this, but where there is a shortage of volunteers then the map will be less accurate.

The Open Source Maps are provided via an intermediary, CloudMade, who provide interfaces for various systems to access the map data and provide various APIs to download and manipulate it.

Interestingly when you look at the reviews for Skobbler in the Apple iTunes store you will note that just about all the negative criticism is regarding map accuracy and GPS fixes. the GPS fixes are obviously out of Skobbler's hands as that is down to the Apple iPhone hardware and the place that the user is trying to use it. The maps though remain an issue and account for the wildly varying reviews. Those users with a good map experience rave about it, those with a bad one trash it. Some definitely polarised opinions in the marketplace.

I expect that the Android version will be better received than the iPhone version as the Android community are generally more tech savvy than the iPhone users and will probably not expect an all singing, all dancing, fully featured navigation application for free. The average Android user is also more likely to understand and contribute to the Open Source Map project.

The main thing to bear in mind is that this a a genuinely FREE application not one subsidised by a mega-corporation with hidden agendas. The main question I have is the sustainability of the advertising business model. If mobile advertising goes the same way as Internet Advertising this may well be short lived in it's current format.

The full press release from Skobbler follows:
skobbler launches free sat nav for Google Android phones

Berlin, Germany, 16th July 2010 - skobbler, creator of the first free turn by turn sat nav app for the iPhone, has today announced the launch of skobbler for the Google Android platform.

Featuring a new user interface and enhanced visual appearance, skobbler sat nav for Google Android is available for download immediately, is compatible with most Google Android mobile phones and above all is FREE.

Since the UK launch of skobbler for iPhone just 4 weeks ago, skobbler has been downloaded more than 82,000 times by iPhone users in the UK. It has sat comfortably at the top of the UK free navigation app chart for four weeks and reached No. 10 of the most popular free apps in the UK app store overall, demonstrating just how popular mobile phone navigation is becoming . “Developing skobbler for the Android platform was the next logical step for the company,” says Marcus Thielking, co-founder of skobbler. “Our goal is to show that the revolutionary OpenStreetMap (OSM) concept can already support great location-based services, even in the most complex category which is definitely car navigation. Developing our unique OSM-based apps for the most popular mobile platforms has always been part of our ongoing strategy. We are looking forward to the feedback of our Android customers and hope that they will embrace the idea of a nationwide (if not worldwide) collaborative mapping project just as much as iPhone users have done already. We look forward to seeing what we call, ‘the future of sat nav’ become a reality, making expensive GPS hardware and slow, costly map updates a thing of the past.”

skobbler is a sat nav solution that empowers consumers to take matters into their own hands and make outdated and poorly detailed maps a thing of the past. It uses community maps from OpenStreetMap (OSM), the Wikipedia of maps that already has over 250,000 users worldwide dedicated to updating and creating the most detailed free map of the world. As a result, all users benefit from consistently updated maps without paying for expensive and already out-of-date updates.

Availability and compatibility:

skobbler is free, is compatible with most Google Android mobile phones and can be downloaded from the Android Market.

You can find further information on recent developments at http://blog.skobbler.com.

skobbler sat nav app key features:

· Turn-by-turn GPS navigation
· Visual and voice-guided navigation
· 2.5D bird’s eye view graphics
· Day and night display modes
· Automatic continuation of navigation after incoming calls
· Pedestrian mode
· Take me home function
· Dynamic map updates at no extra cost
· User-editable maps of UK and Ireland (OpenStreetMap data)
· Bookmarks for favourite destinations

Comments
Posted by peterc10 on Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:11 pm Reply with quote

A couple of questions.

Are the maps over the air or storable on the phone?

And does it support 3rd party POIs and the camera database?


Peter
HTC Sensation
Sygic GPS for Europe (No more TT "support"!)
Copilot for USA
Bury CC9060 bluetooth car kit & Brodit mount

 
Posted by MikeB on Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:14 pm Reply with quote

peterc10 Wrote:
A couple of questions.

Are the maps over the air or storable on the phone?

And does it support 3rd party POIs and the camera database?

The Maps are Over The Air, though there is talk about caching them on the device for a later software release.

I dont know if 3rd party POIs are supported at the moment.


Mike Barrett
Editor, PocketGPSWorld.com

 
Posted by W90BHP on Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:31 am Reply with quote

I couldn't find it on a search of the Market. Does that mean it won't work on Android 1.5? Still waiting for the 2.1 update from 3!


LG G4: Android 6 : Viewranger : CoPilot : Waze
TomTom Go 730T : Traffic subscription long expired
Nokia E61 : Nokia GPS : TomTom Navigator 6 : Retired from duty
iPAQ 3970 : Navman Sleeve : CoPilot 4 : Somewhere in the loft

 
Posted by MikeB on Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:53 am Reply with quote

W90BHP Wrote:
I couldn't find it on a search of the Market. Does that mean it won't work on Android 1.5? Still waiting for the 2.1 update from 3!

It does appear to be there as it appears in the Top Apps on the web page http://www.android.com/market/#app=com.skobbler.main


Mike Barrett
Editor, PocketGPSWorld.com

 
Posted by W90BHP on Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:02 am Reply with quote

Clicking that link on my Hero brings up "Heavy Gunner"! I'll try it on the PC later...


LG G4: Android 6 : Viewranger : CoPilot : Waze
TomTom Go 730T : Traffic subscription long expired
Nokia E61 : Nokia GPS : TomTom Navigator 6 : Retired from duty
iPAQ 3970 : Navman Sleeve : CoPilot 4 : Somewhere in the loft

 
Posted by MaFt on Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:59 am Reply with quote

W90BHP Wrote:
Clicking that link on my Hero brings up "Heavy Gunner"! I'll try it on the PC later...


weird web site... direct links don't seem to work! click on 'top free' tab, then select 'travel' and then scroll down tot he bottom where you will see Skrobbler :D

MaFt


MaFt®

 
Posted by peterc10 on Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:07 am Reply with quote

MaFt Wrote:
weird web site... direct links don't seem to work! click on 'top free' tab, then select 'travel' and then scroll down tot he bottom where you will see Skrobbler :D

MaFt

You will, but it is all written in German on mine. And when I follow the links to an English site they do not say how to download it.

The problem is that many of the apps on the market are not "approved" for those devices running Android 1.5 (and sometimes 1.6 as well). The result is when you search for them on the market on an Android 1.5 model like the Hero they do not show up. So you end up having to do it the old fashioned way and downloading an apk file to your computer, transferring it across and then opening it.

And the reason why a lot of these apps are not approved is that they need Android 2.1 or higher to work. Google Navigation is just such an app. I suspect Skobbler may be another one.


Peter
HTC Sensation
Sygic GPS for Europe (No more TT "support"!)
Copilot for USA
Bury CC9060 bluetooth car kit & Brodit mount

 
Posted by W90BHP on Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:09 am Reply with quote

Now on a PC. Followed the links through to the Skobbler website and used the barcode to launch a marketplace search. Still came up "no matches" which suggests that it isn't available for Android 1.5 devices Sad


LG G4: Android 6 : Viewranger : CoPilot : Waze
TomTom Go 730T : Traffic subscription long expired
Nokia E61 : Nokia GPS : TomTom Navigator 6 : Retired from duty
iPAQ 3970 : Navman Sleeve : CoPilot 4 : Somewhere in the loft

 
Posted by W90BHP on Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:13 am Reply with quote

After using Google translate on the Skobbler website, it says it's for Android 1.6+

Just have to wait for my update to 2.1 via 3 now...!


LG G4: Android 6 : Viewranger : CoPilot : Waze
TomTom Go 730T : Traffic subscription long expired
Nokia E61 : Nokia GPS : TomTom Navigator 6 : Retired from duty
iPAQ 3970 : Navman Sleeve : CoPilot 4 : Somewhere in the loft

 
Posted by MaFt on Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:30 am Reply with quote

i thought the hero had been updated to 2.1? or are you just waiting for a carrier-specific version?

so glad i rooted mine!

MaFt


MaFt®

 
Posted by W90BHP on Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:33 am Reply with quote

MaFt Wrote:
i thought the hero had been updated to 2.1? or are you just waiting for a carrier-specific version?

so glad i rooted mine!

Yup - current expectation for Heros on 3 is "late July" Sad

Tempted to root, but also tempted to purchase a sim-free Desire instead!


LG G4: Android 6 : Viewranger : CoPilot : Waze
TomTom Go 730T : Traffic subscription long expired
Nokia E61 : Nokia GPS : TomTom Navigator 6 : Retired from duty
iPAQ 3970 : Navman Sleeve : CoPilot 4 : Somewhere in the loft

 
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