Update: June 9, 2010: GPS and navigation apps for the iPad are proliferating. Here are notable iPad apps worth a look:
- MotionX GPS Drive HD ($2.99 plus $24.99 per year up-charge for continuing text-to-speech) - Turn-by-turn directions and text-to-speech on the big screen. MotionX GPS Drive HD also makes use of its 3G connectivity for live search and other live services. Be sure to select the GPS Drive version for turn-by-turn directions.
- iNavX Marine Navigation ($49.99) - Official NOAA RNC raster US waters marine charts for iPad. This color chartplotter supports waypoints and routes, GPX import and export, and supports instrument data display.
- Trails - GPS tracker ($3.99) - This app already has a following on the iPhone, and can really show off maps on the iPad screen. Set waypoints, display and edit tracks, cache maps for use when out of 3G or WiFi range, import and export to EveryTrail.com or to GPX files.
- Air Navigation Pro ($37.99) - This isn't a game app; it's a real-time aviation application with moving map display, a database of most of the world's airfields, downloadable (in-app purchase) US Sectional charts, customizable display, and more.
Update: April 15, 2010: Fullpower, maker the popular MotionX outdoor and auto turn-by-turn apps for the iPhone, will have its products ready for the release of the 3G + WiFi iPads with GPS later this month, says CEO Philippe Kahn. "We have MotionX-GPS HD and MotionX-GPS Drive HD specially optimized and enhanced for the iPad 3G to be released in a few weeks with the launch of the GPS-enabled iPad 3G," says Kahn. All of the MotionX "HD" apps for the iPad will run at full screen screen size, and are designed to take full advantage of the larger platform, says Kahn. So, turn-by-turn directions on a 10-inch super high-resolution color screen are about to become a reality.
Other turn-by-turn navigation app makers I contacted weren't ready to make announcements yet, but it's reasonable to assume that AT&T will offer its TeleNav-powered "Navigator" app on the big screen at iPad 3G + WiFi release, as will TomTom and most other navigation app makers.
In addition, I consider it highly likely that the leading location-based services app makers such as Gowalla (already confirmed) and Yelp will be there when the GPS-equipped iPads hit the stores.
Update: March 15, 2010: Apple has provided some additional updates and information about the iPad's GPS and navigation features. Apple states: "iPad with Wi-Fi finds your location using known Wi-Fi hotspots, and Wi-Fi + 3G models use Wi-Fi, GPS, and cellular towers. So you can get routes, get directions, and get there in no time."
This clarifies the difference between the WiFi models and the the WiFi+3G models. The three WiFi models, selling for $499 (16GB), $599 (32 GB), and $699 (64GB) will NOT have a built-in GPS chip, and will rely on Wifi positioning.
The three Wifi+3G models (available in late April at $629, $729, and $829) will have fully functional AGPS chips built in that will use GPS satellite positioning, plus Wifi/cell tower positioning for greater accuracy in a wide range of conditions, including urban environments, which can block or bounce GPS signals.
Other iPad mapping features are similar to those on the iPhone, including using Google Maps and related services, ability to switch between map, satellite, and terrain views, and turn-by-turn directions.
More exciting and interesting will be future apps and software that will make use the iPad's big screen for mapping and other location-based services.
Update: Apple's vague announcement wording and technical spec on its site have left people guessing about whether the iPad has a true GPS chip, and if so, on what models. My take on the spec: Only the $629 (and up) WiFi + 3G models will have it. It will be an AGPS chip - a true GPS chip that is assisted by cellular and WiFi signals. That doesn't mean it's a low-quality GPS chip that needs help. AGPS actually provides superior speed and location (think indoors) capability. I am checking with Apple media to clarify, but it is highly unlikely Apple would resort to WiFi/cellular-only location on this device, when GPS is such an important and established technology on the iPhone, and true GPS is so essential to so many apps in the App Store. That said, we still have a beef, since it looks like built-in GPS won't be added to the entire iPad line.
This afternoon Apple announced its new tablet-style computer it has dubbed the iPad. Why a touchscreen tablet? It needs to be "far better than a smartphone or laptop at doing some things," said Steve Jobs, an admitted long-time tablet computing skeptic.
If you had been guessing that this device would be sort of a cross between an iPhone and the newer Mac laptops, you would be correct. Jobs demo'ed Web browsing, e-mail, Apple's photo-managing iPhoto software, iCal calendar, iTunes, and a suite of other beautifully crafted applications Apple users are already familiar with. Not unexpectedly, the iPad has a nearly full-size QWERTY touchscreen keyboard for e-mail and other typing needs. Add on HD video, games, and specially formatted content from publishers....
A big, bold new app is iBooks, which, you guessed it, is like an iTunes for books.
Specs: The Apple iPad weighs 1.5 pounds, has a 9.7-inch (diagonal) capacitive touchscreen, and is just a half-inch thick. Its pricing starts at $499, and goes up to $829 for a fully-loaded 3G model. Its chip is Apple's own 1GHz A4 chip, and the device comes with 16 GB of flash memory. Battery life is said to be 10 hours. Includes WiFi plus optional 3G with data plan from AT&T. Ship date: early April.
GPS and navigation features:
- Built- in GPS chip and accelerometer.
- Built-in magnetic compass.
- Apple claims the iPad will run all existing iPhone apps, including navigation apps. However, the screen size will remain iPhone-size until developers adapt their apps for the larger screen.
- Google Maps runs full-screen on this device, which makes it more like the Google Maps experience on a good PC or laptop monitor.
The iPad appears to be product-positioned as a "media machine," heavy on video, games, and e-reading, which is also no surprise, but I think that those who work with GPS, navigation, and especially location-based services won't take long to take advantage of the big new 10-inch touchscreen to offer some terrific apps. Follow Fred on Twitter. Image © Apple.