Free open source satnav comes to UK iPhones
Skobbler, the no-cost open source satnav app, is now available to UK iPhone owners.
In its native Germany, the app has been the most downloaded program of its kind for the last six months, the developer - also called Skobbler - claimed.
Skobbler's pitch is providing turn-by-turn navigation based on maps sourced from OpenStreetMap, a set of user-generated charts that hundreds of thousands of folk around the world keep up to date.
Skobbler describes OpenStreetMap as the "Wikipedia of maps" which is broadly correct but also problematic. Wikipedia hasn't avoided issues of inaccuracy in its user-generated articles, and the same may prove true of OpenStreetMap's plans.
Still, many of the professionally produced maps that Reg Hardware has sampled in its many satnav reviews can prove to be out-of-date in certain areas, despite claims that every new device uses "the latest" maps available.
And Skobbler has much to recommend it: it works like every other satnav app, supports iPod music playback while it's running, and will automatically pick-up navigation duties after the completion of the call you just took - though hopefully, this will be less of a necessity when the multi-tasking (sort or) iOS 4 is released later this month.
More to the point Skobbler is free - or you can pay £1.19 for a (presumably) ads-free version. You can download it here, and it requires an iPhone 3G or later. ®
Hope it doesn't rely on Open StreetMap in real time, as it says it's down for maintenance (09.55).
Still, at least OSM can be corrected, which is more than can be said for maps based on Tele Atlas (even if you do tell them).
Great little freebie
Pretty sweet app, although I did notice that if my 3G connection dropped off, or it lost the connection to their servers via whatever way, then you're essentially booted out of the application with a 'you must have an active internet connection to use this software' message, and it didn't let me use the app until I got a connection back.
This is no good if you're out and about and lose your connection! Mind you I was browsing the manual at the time, lets hope it doesn't do it whilst navigating.
Sure you'll need a connection to download the local area roadmap, but you'd expect it to cache it for whole journeys. In fact its chucking me out pretty often on 3G.
It doesn't behave anything like your traditional satnav software either, its a bit backwards in that it doesn't just present you with a browsable map until you enter a destination and you have a locked GPS, which is a bit odd.
Still, can't complain, its free, I would imagine the paid-for version doesn't moan as much??