Friday, June 22, 2007

Latest on Google Maps on the iPhone

Apple released today a twenty minute video showing more details on the user interface and capabilities of the iPhone, so we can all "get ready" for the launch next Friday. They talk about the maps application about three quarters of the way through. They say "one of the most useful tools available on the Internet today is maps (sic), and Google Maps on the iPhone is amazing". It does have a number of flashy user interface features that aren't available on other versions of Google Maps. A few quick observations from the demo. You can zoom in by double tapping or "pinching" the map (dragging two fingers apart), dragging with one finger will pan, and tapping with two fingers will zoom out. Of course the multi-touch interface is one of the most hyped features of the iPhone, and has been popular on other recently announced devices too (such as Microsoft's touch table). You can search for businesses by location using a single search field - in the demo they just type in "san francisco sushi". Pins fly in from the top of the screen to show each location. You can dial a restaurant that you've found, or get a route and show live traffic information. Of course it supports both imagery and street map views.

I had been deliberating about whether to get an iPhone, but think I've been seduced and will have to get one, despite its lack of GPS. Fortunately I have a group plan on Cingular (now AT&T) so I think I should be able to just add one more line to that group relatively cheaply, and keep my BlackBerry 8800 too. So I guess I'll be in line at the Apple Store in Denver on Friday next week - they go on sale at 6pm and there is no pre-booking or buying online (yet).

4 comments:

Gary said...

Interestingly, today's cellular phones have location technology built-in to provide the caller's location when they dial 9-1-1. Some carriers use a GPS-based solution, while others use a cellular network solution. Either way, the iPhone will be able to provide its latitude and longitude to the network when you dial 9-1-1, so why not your location for Google maps?

Zec said...

Maybe there will be still some surprises left for the final countdown to release.
It is is interesting they talking all the time about maps, maps...

Peter Batty said...

Gary, you are right that there are other location determination methods available on cell phones, but these are much less accurate than GPS (typically hundreds of feet versus tens of feet - there are lots of variables I won't go into now). There are also rough location determination methods using WiFi, which could also be a possibility for the iPhone, but again these are not especially accurate. These other methods are not accurate enough for certain applications, like turn by turn directions, which you can get from other phones which do have GPS like my BlackBerry 8800. So while I like the look of a lot of aspects of the iPhone, it's not going to be able to replace some important functionality which my BlackBerry gives me.

And Zec, I would love it if Apple suddenly announced GPS support but unless they have been intentionally understating the iPhone's capabilities up to now, which seems unlikely, it's not going to change at this point as this is a fundamental hardware design issue, not just a software question (like the YouTube support which was recently announced). But hopefully they will provide a version with GPS at some point in the future!

Aaron said...

It looks like you can now buy them online (well, not actually yet as they're sticking to their no pre-order policy), but at some point on Friday I guess.