Offline Navigation Added to Google Maps

That frustrating moment as you’re about to depart, when for some reason your phone decides to drop it’s network connection. Suddenly you better hope you know where you’re going, because Google Maps will leave you high and dry as you desperately try to get it to give you a route. From today, no more.

A long time in the coming, from Google’s promise of the feature back in May, the popular map and route-finding software will now be full-featured even when offline. And while some may argue that Google Maps has had offline functionality for a long time, with the ability to save maps locally, this feature was severely limited, offering no route-finding or navigation. Essentially just a plain digital map. This new update to Google Maps fills in all the functional blanks that have been missing since. Searching, routing, turn-by-turn vocal navigation and even basic information on businesses will now be available on saved maps while offline.

In order to make use of these new features, you must first download the map data to your device. Maps allows you to download maps on three scales, country, county or city, or the option to download a specific area from the offline areas menu. After downloading the maps for an area, you’re good to go. Maps handles hot-swapping between the downloaded map and using the network connection behind the scenes, aiming to make the experience seamless as you travel in and out of signal. The only thing offline maps can’t do is live traffic, for obvious reasons.

Having suffered frustration due to the whims of my mobile network provider when trying to travel personally, I highly welcome this change. How do you feel, a long overdue must-have, or simply nice to have?

Apple Reveals Purpose of Camera Vans in California

Have you seen those mysterious Apple vans cruising around the California area? The camera-equipped vans have been the focus of speculation for a while now. Are they for mapping, self-driving cars, or perhaps something else altogether? If you guessed mapping, give yourself a cookie!

Apple has revealed their vans are gathering images and data for use in an Apple street mapping app. The vehicles are set to take street-level images and data for Apple Maps for both iOS and OS X, as an obvious direct competitor to Google Maps and their Street View service.

“We are committed to protecting your privacy while collecting this data,” Apple said in the notice. “For example, we will blur faces and license plates on collected images prior to publication.”

While this doesn’t have anything to do with self-driving cars right now, it would come as no surprise if Apple also plan to use the data they gather for their self-driving car technology, much in the same way Google has done, but for now, it seems this will be limited to the mapping service. Can they really compete with Google Street View? That remains to be seen, but for Apple users, any improvement to the mapping services offered is no bad thing.

Apple’s mapping vans are set to hit the streets of Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Texas, Utah, and Washington State. In the UK, Essex, Greater London, Kent, and Birmingham. Finally, in Ireland, the greater Dublin area.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

Android Auto Now Available for the Latest 2015 Hyundai Sonata

If you are an Android user and looking to buy a car that can take you anywhere, you might consider what Hyundai has to offer this year. The company just revealed that their latest 2015 Hyundai Sonata with Navigation model just received support for Android Auto and is ready for navigation duties.

Already a 2015 Sonata with Navigation driver? Then you can take the car to a Hyundai dealer and have the Android Auto software installed free of charge. The company also knows that some customers may not have access to a Hyundai dealer or have time to leave their car overnight to get the software update.

This is why Hyundai will make the software available to download by owners later on this summer. All you need is a MyHyundai account to start the download and once downloaded, it can be uploaded on a USB drive. The update itself is pretty easy too, just stick the USB drive into the Sonata’s USB port and let the automated update system do its thing.

To be noted is that customers need to know the Vehicle Identification Number and provide a name and address to be able to register for a MyHyundai account. In addition to the 2015 Sonata with Navigation model, Hyundai is also making the Android Auto software available for a wider range of cars, including Sonata Sport, Eco, Limited, Sport 2.0T and Limited 2.0T.

Thank you Android Central for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of hdmotori.it

Mini Making Augmented Reality Driving Goggles

BMW-owned Mini is working on a pair of augmented reality driving goggles that provide drivers with details about anything in the driver’s field of vision, from road speed limits to navigation arrows, and even in-eye access to the car’s parking cameras.

The Mini Augmented Vision will be unveiled by the car company at the Auto Shanghai 2015 show, which runs from 22nd to 29th April, in China, where it is expected that we’ll discover more about price and availability.

Source: Engadget

Google To Set Compliance Standards For Android-based Portable Navigation Devices

There are quite a few PND manufacturers out there that have succeeded in releasing Android-based navigation gadgets and features, and even embed them into car dashboards. However, Google intends to make a set of compliance standards that the gadgets and devices have to pass in order to be released.

Having certain standards and requirements set will certainly benefit users that make use of the tech and will improve the software. However, it might not be so good for the device manufacturers, having to put more effort and resources into assuring that the requirements set by Google are met. In turn, this will affect vehicle manufacturers as well and possibly have an impact on price, whereas time equals money as they say.

Current android-based PNDs have been rolled out by Garmin, Mitac International and Papago, but since most PND suppliers are not member companies of the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), their products are unable to secure verification from Google, or do not have support all Google applications.

Whether PND manufacturers will comply with Google’s requirements, we will have to see. There is still a way for them to evade the compliance area by transforming themselves into white-box Android PND manufacturers as some smartphone manufacturers did to solve problems such as this.

Thank you Digi Times for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Slashgear

Driving Across An Airport Runway? Ah You Must Be Using Apple Maps!

Apple Maps strikes again, this time the troubled service has been sending people via an Alaskan airports runway, now the airport has closed an aircraft access route for fear of a truly massive accident.

Fairbanks International Airport reported that in three weeks they had two vehicles on their taxiway and across one of its runways. The issue was with the app directing users along the taxiway, but it does not specifically tell them to drive on the runway… apparently common sense isn’t all that common as much as good sat nav, because surely you can tell that you’re going the wrong way when you drive down a run way?!?

“We asked them to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it, thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this,” Melissa Osborn, chief of operations at the airport, told the Alaska Dispatch newspaper.

The airport now has barricades installed to block access to those who follow sat nav blindly and that they wouldn’t be removed until Apple fixed the error.

“No matter what the signs say, the map on their iPhone told them to proceed this way,” said the airport’s marketing director Angie Spear.

Do you use Apple maps, let us know how you’re getting along with the service in the comments section below.

Thank you BBC News for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Alaska Dispatch.