The convergence of multiple technologies is what essentially transforms normal mobile handsets into smartphones. It is the culmination of functionality and applications that turns a normal phone into a mini computer. One of these convergence technologies is GPS, and CoPilot Live Worldwide’s Director of Marketing David Quin, offers insight on where this will take us next. Here is what David had to say.
AllBusiness.com: GPS devices really took off in the last decade, but now the same thing can be done on a smartphone. So does this signal the end of GPS devices?
David Quin: As one of the pioneers of smartphone GPS navigation, we have seen a huge rise in the number of people using their phone as their primary navigation device in the past few years.
Today’s smartphones offer fully integrated GPS receivers, large color touch screens and loudspeakers for voice directions. When you add a sophisticated and full-featured app like CoPilot Live, you can provide the same performance on a phone as you would expect from even the most expensive in-dash or dedicated systems.
That said, the dedicated GPS device remains a popular choice for those looking for a simple mechanism that does the job. There are plenty of people who perceive the multi-tasking smartphone as being too ‘complex’ and others who remain concerned – unnecessarily – about screen size and the risk of excessive data roaming charges. There’s still a large market for the dedicated device among the less “tech-eager” which will surely remain for several years to come.
AllBusiness.com: Can a smartphone with an app do everything a dedicated GPS unit can do?
David Quin: In many ways, the smartphone is actually a better platform for GPS navigation thanks to its in-built mobile Internet connectivity, which can provide seamless access to useful real-time information when on the move like traffic updates, most advantageous gas prices or local Internet search. These services are available on some high-end dedicated systems, but they usually require an additional mobile connection subscription, which turns many people off.
Smartphones offer other more obvious benefits as well. Being more portable than a dedicated system makes them suitable for use when you’re on foot to find your way around an unfamiliar city. There’s also the benefit of combining tasks into a single device—there’s really no need to buy that extra device anymore, and smartphone navigation is much less expensive too.
AllBusiness.com: Given that there are now several smartphone operating systems, does this make new challenges when it comes to creating GPS apps?
David Quin: Until fairly recently, supporting multiple operating systems was an on-going challenge for us. However, since CoPilot Live 7 [we are currently on version 8] we have used our own flexible graphics ‘engine,’ which makes coping with different screen resolutions and sizes much easier.
Right now we support iPhone, all Windows phones and all popular Android smartphones. Occasionally a new device will launch where we have to make minor adjustments to the app, for example with the Google Nexus One and the Motorola Milestone (Europe’s version of Motorola Droid). However we can usually react and release an updated version of the app within just a few days.
AllBusiness.com: Will CoPilot Live, at some point, be available for the multitude of smartphones out there?
David Quin: CoPilot Live already runs on many of the most popular smartphones, and we are continually looking to support as many as possible. Our approach to navigation is to provide CoPilot Live’s maps ‘on-board’ the phone (as opposed to downloaded each trip). The phone itself needs to have a reasonable amount of processing power and storage capacity to run CoPilot Live, so we are unlikely to be supporting the lower-end ‘feature phones’ any time soon. However, we are seeing a huge growth in sales of iPhone and Android smartphones, almost all of which are compatible with CoPilot Live.