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Apple finally launch the iPhone 3G with GPS

Date 12th July 2008

The iPhone is now here, and I was one of the people to get one on launch day. Standing in a queue for just over an hour at our local Car Phone Warehouse in Essex I was lucky enough to be the 8th in line. They had stock of 2 16Gb and 10 8Gb iPhones. It is no surprise then that I only managed to get an 8Gb one, they were allowing only one per customer, and promising next day delivery for the unlucky 13th and beyond.


Having an iPod Touch with the latest software I was already used to the interface and the installation of data and app via iTunes. By 10am I was back home and had activated my iPhone. I was not affected by the hundreds of thousands of current and new users who had flooded to the Apple, O2, CPW, AT&T stores and then found that the iTunes site couldn't handle the volume of requests for activation or upgrades. Mine activated first time.


In fact the only problem I had was trying to work out where to put the SIM card. I read the 2 leaflets supplied and then looked all over the iPhone but still couldn't see where it went. Eventually I went back to the box and found that Apple in their wisdom had put a graphic instruction in the packaging for the documentation. When opening the package the leaflets had fallen out so I just put aside the packaging and read the instructions... I wonder how many others did that too? It was only today that I realised on the other side of the packaging Apple had supplied a Sim removal tool... And that was only because I read it on another website... I used a paperclip.


With my new iPhone activated the first thing I did was to visit the Apple iTunes App Store and see what GPS applications I could get for free... Unfortunately there were only 2 available: Where and Local Picks both in the Navigation section. I then looked around a bit more and found SmugShot and Mobile Flikr in the photography section, and Facebook in the Social Networking. There were a few other applications for imaging but it wasn't obvious if they used the GPS capabilities of the iPhone.


I was a little disappointed to discover that there was no MSN or SKYPE clients available yet. I assume that in the near future there will be a MSN one as this had been available on the original Jailbroken iPhone.


I downloaded and installed these apps. Apple really have made it easy with iTunes. Coming from a technical background I am always expecting things to be difficult. Not so with iTunes. Apple have made it easy, possibly too easy...


SmugShot was the first I tried as it claimed to support geotagged iMages from the camera. I guess I was not the only person trying it as the SmugMug servers seemed to be a little stressed. After I had created my free 14 day trial account the server would not let me log in on the iPhone (and sometimes my Mac) then the pages wouldn't display etc. SmugMug are another company who didn't expect so much activity on the first day. Anyway now that the initial surge has diminished I can now access everything. I am disappointed that the test images I took did not have the GPS data transferred to the SmugMug archives (it was in the EXIF data of the images, I checked). I did have to ask myself what's the point if the GPS data is not sent with the picture??? So SmugMug gets a cross on my list. I will wait until a decent Picasa one is developed.


Next application to try was "Where" this is a GPS enabled application that shows you where the nearest xxx is. I suppose that the images of Starbucks attracted me to it in the first place. I tried this one, but it took so long to get a fix that the iPhone went into standby. The user interface isn't displayed until the GPS has a fix. Anyway going outside and waving my iPhone at the rain clouds I eventually got my first fix and managed to find my nearest Starbucks, only it wasn't the nearest one... There are 2 closer although these are not included in other POI searches so I probably shouldn't complain too loudly. Today when I tried to use it it spent ages trying to load and find things, and the map never loaded. Everything I asked for in the Local Search was not found and the application experienced a number of crashes. Another cross here I am afraid.


I next tried Facebook. This was just as disappointing. They have implemented a very cut down version of Facebook functionality and don't seem to have incorporated any of the iPhone's unique features into the interface. Ironically on my BlackBerry 8800 with no camera the Facebook app can upload images, but on the iPhone with a camera no image support can be found. In fact the only input capabilities seem to be to change your status message, comment on photos, chat to friends (does anyone ever use this) or to send Facebook mail. Oh dear another disappointment...


All of the location aware applications had to wait for the GPS to get a fix. The best indication that this was happening was a spinning icon. The most obvious missing GPS application is just a simple Satellite strength and position status display. Assuming of course that the API provides this sort of raw data, if not it should!!!


Fortunately I went back to using the included mapping application that came with the iPhone and realised that the mature applications were by far the best quality ones. I suppose this will have a lot to do with the length of time these applications have been tested in real life situations. It would surprise if the iTune App Store ones have been on a real iPhone before the launch day. I am sure these applications will improve both in functionality and stability over time.


The biggest disappointment for me though is that despite a number of whispers and rumors there is no voice guided, turn by turn navigation application available yet. Time will tell who will be the first one to launch, assuming that they can come to terms with Apple and agree to have the distribution and maintenance of the software handled by Apple.


Now standing in a queue for just over an hour on the day of the release of something is not my normal behavior, in fact quite the opposite, but the guys from ifixit.com not only waited in line for hours, they also flew from the USA to New Zealand where the very first iPhone 3Gs were sold. By the time the Apple and AT&T stores opened in California not only had they bought one they had also taken it to pieces and published the process on the internet. Click here to see the ifixit iPhone 3G disassembly.



The iPhone 3G is probably the most anticipated launch of a technology product in recent history. The launch has had so much publicity and the logistics, organisation and management to co-ordinate a worldwide release on a single day is most impressive. There were some hiccups, mainly with the volume of users trying to access the servers all at the same time, but in general the launch was smooth. As usual of course there was not enough devices to fulfil requirements, but it is very difficult to ramp up production and distribution for the single day. I would be very interested to find out how many were actually sold on iDay.


The iPhone and its bundled applications are great. Microsoft should be afraid, very afraid... My only reservation is the openness of the development platform. Apple are very restrictive and controlling in the Network, Development and Distribution of applications. This is not conducive to a free and innovative development community, but I suspect that iPhone will have enough fans to produce a wide range of applications.


As far as the GPS applications are concerned I was disappointed that the Loopt application (Geo aware Social Networking) was not on the UK version of the iPhone. The quality of the applications in the iTunes App Store needs to improve dramatically both in terms of functionality and stability. The "big" SatNav companies need to get some applications out to leverage the unique hardware features and capabilities of the iPhone. Yesterday was a good start, but there is huge scope for improvement and innovation.


Location Based Services are the way forward. Apple with the iPhone GPS has given us the platform. Lets see what the future holds for the applications.


Article by Mike Barrett

Apple iPhone 3G with GPS


Apple iPhone 3G with GPS


Apple iPhone 3G with GPS


Apple iPhone 3G with GPS


Apple iPhone 3G with GPS


Apple iPhone 3G with GPS


Apple iPhone 3G with GPS


Apple iPhone 3G with GPS


Manufacturers Website


Pocket GPS Contributor

Mike Barrett

Pocket GPS Contributor Website





Posted by bedbug on Sat Jul 12, 2008 5:03 pm Reply with quote

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the detailed and informative review.

Hopefully there's enough interest in providing turn-by-turn voice sat nav that someone will challenge the heavy-handed EULA.

On Thursday the New York Times carried a 'first experiences' review of the 3G, and commented that while using Google Maps, the GPS struggled to get a fix both due to Manhattan buildings (nothing new there) but also due to being 'inside a car'! This has led me to fear that Apple's implementation is so technically flawed that it may never support sat nav.

With your ability to test it out, have you been able to confirm that the GPS capability appears powerful enough to support any future Sat Nav apps, or have Apple got it terribly wrong in this respect?

On all things GPS, I did see value in the astronomy applications, presenting details of the night sky relative to both GPS location and heading...

Finally, you missed out the most important thing - how good is Super Monkey Ball? Laughing

iPhone 4/4S (iOS 5.1.1); TomTom Western Europe (1.10)/USA & Canada (1.10); CoPilot for iPhone (8), UK mapping, Mac OS 10.8/XP Pro/Win7; Tongue often firmly in cheek!

Posted by MikeB on Sat Jul 12, 2008 5:31 pm Reply with quote

bedbug Wrote:
Finally, you missed out the most important thing - how good is Super Monkey Ball? Laughing

More to the point What is Super Monkey Ball?? Rolling Eyes

I used the GPS in the car yesterday with the Google Map app and it tracked me precisely and speedily so I think the GPS is up to the job. I have been in Manhattan testing GPS and it is pretty nigh impossible to get a decent fix in amongst the skyscrapers. Move to Central Park and it is fine.

I suppose the question to ask is What was the GPS intended to do? I suspect that full blown navigation must have been on their minds if not at the forefront. The EULA has a lot of stuff in it, but you have to remember they are a US company based in California, the land of lawsuits because the coffee was too hot...

Mike Barrett
Editor, PocketGPSWorld.com

Posted by bedbug on Sat Jul 12, 2008 5:56 pm Reply with quote

Cheers Mike,

Thank the stars for that! I was in Seattle a few weeks back and Nav 6 via TomTom's own Bluetooth receiver was worthless (and the skyscrapers aren't anything like Manhattan!).

Apple were def. trying to protect themselves with the agreement; whether they were also trying to protect a chosen sat nav partner remains to be seen - let's hope something gets confirmed soon (and not via the jailbreak route!).

Oh, and Super Monkey Ball is one life's great time wasters - think Bejewelled on steroids!!

iPhone 4/4S (iOS 5.1.1); TomTom Western Europe (1.10)/USA & Canada (1.10); CoPilot for iPhone (8), UK mapping, Mac OS 10.8/XP Pro/Win7; Tongue often firmly in cheek!

Posted by popeye on Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:09 pm Reply with quote

I have had the original iphone for a few months and I love it, but I don't think it would very good as a vehicle navigation device for a couple of reasons. Firstly the speaker isn't very loud, but the biggest problem for me would be the glass screen.
The reflections make it very difficult to read from a distance in bright conditions. Maybe with a built in GPS it would be handy to have as a backup or for use on foot though.

Posted by amhey on Sat Jul 12, 2008 11:59 pm Reply with quote

I've found meebo.com OK for doing MSN Messenge on iPhone.

Posted by efjay on Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:34 am Reply with quote

I wonder why Microsoft is always singled out when it comes to the iphone's competition, shouldnt RIM, Nokia with Symbian, Google, Sony Ericsson and all other phone makers be afraid as well?

Posted by mikealder on Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:06 am Reply with quote

Have a read through This Page and watch the video, it gives an insight into what the iFone has done for the industry with a look at Google, HTC, Nokia etc - well worth watching - Mike

Posted by JulE on Mon Jul 14, 2008 8:27 am Reply with quote

Hi guys,

Got a 3G, very happy with it, even though it has quite a few problems.

The last problem i had to deal with was the GPS not working, found this site -

Problem solved.

I love my 3G :-)
Julie :-)

Posted by bedbug on Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:40 pm Reply with quote

JulE Wrote:
...the GPS not working, found this site -
Problem solved.

Thanks for that Julie, that has to be one of the most helpful first posts ever!

Impressive figures for iPhone's first weekend - over 1,000,000 handsets sold; I think it worth noting that many of those are likely to be upgrades from a V1 iPhone, but impressive nevertheless - that's a lot of GPS-enabled handsets looking for a Sat Nav application, eh TomTom? Smile
More on first weekend figures Here.

iPhone 4/4S (iOS 5.1.1); TomTom Western Europe (1.10)/USA & Canada (1.10); CoPilot for iPhone (8), UK mapping, Mac OS 10.8/XP Pro/Win7; Tongue often firmly in cheek!

Posted by tez on Mon Jul 28, 2008 5:19 pm Reply with quote

Well I had an Iphone 3G and I have just taken it back as the Battery is just NOT up to the job , the fitted Battery is 1100ma and the Iphone 1 had a 1450ma one fitted.
Battery life with the 3G on is only 5 hours when you put on the Bluetooth and GPS its not good, the only way to get the battery life anywhere good enough is to Turn Off the 3G!!!! Remember this is a 3G phone!
What is going to be interesting is when and if Tom Tom comes out on it given the Glass screen and screen glare , as itís going to be a battery killer for sure with the GPS running , spoken instructions and the screen/Bluetooth on all the time.
"You may get to where you are going but you wont get back" and you wont be able to call anyone either!!!!
Light at the end of the tunnel is the Gphone, Samsung Instinct and the Nuviphone all set to come out this year Lets hope you can change the Battery in one of them..
Looking at all of them Apple have the looks and interface but if you want a all in one solution then the Nuviphone may well be the way to go. I am waiting rather than selling my sole for 18 months to O2

Nuviphone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwCJMqFWUck&feature=related

Gphone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsTyJbxaq50

Samsung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWjGff_tDqk

Posted by bedbug on Mon Jul 28, 2008 5:53 pm Reply with quote

[quote="tez"]"You may get to where you are going but you wont get back" and you wont be able to call anyone either!!!!"

I think it's pretty much a dead cert. that a power source is going to be required for an in-vehicle 3G system; its frustrating that Apple's way is to dictate how their devices are configured and used; in only they'd enabled battery interchange!

iPhone 4/4S (iOS 5.1.1); TomTom Western Europe (1.10)/USA & Canada (1.10); CoPilot for iPhone (8), UK mapping, Mac OS 10.8/XP Pro/Win7; Tongue often firmly in cheek!

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