Microsoft secretly participated in a recent $25 million funding round for Israel-based navigation solutions provider Waze, Israeli tech site TheMarker reported last week. Microsoft makes very few investments each year according to TheMarker’s source, but the tech giant apparently took quite an interest in Waze’s unique brand of navigation apps. “Waze is a social mobile application providing free turn-by-turn navigation based on the live conditions of the road. 100% powered by users, the more you drive, the better it gets,” the company’s website states. The company’s apps provide free voice-guided navigation to users, and also provide real-time data such as traffic conditions and speed trap alerts based on both automatic and manual feedback from each of Waze’s 4.5 million users around the world. While the terms of Microsoft’s investment were not revealed, the move is an interesting one — Microsoft is now in bed with Nokia, owner of navigation giant Navteq, and it will supply the OS for Nokia’s smartphones moving forward. Microsoft has already announced that it will use Navteq to power future navigation solutions in its Windows Phone OS, but it looks like a unique version of Waze for Windows Phone is in the works as well. More →
Several new features set to be introduced in Microsoft’s upcoming “Mango” update for Windows Phone were revealed this past weekend. We already knew that Mango is set to be a major update to the Windows Phone platform — perhaps the most anticipated new feature is improved multitasking support — but Microsoft had been keeping several upcoming additions under wraps. Newly revealed features include Bing Audio, which will identify songs by listening to music, a la Shazam; Bing Vision, which will provide barcode scanning along with a host of camera-assisted search functions; the addition of turn-by-turn navigation to Bing Maps; speech recognition support in the messaging app; and a new native podcast player. None of these new features have been confirmed by Microsoft at this point but considering the proven track record of the source, it looks like Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 update is going to be even more exciting than we thought. More →
If you’re an iPhone owner, you have to pay for your turn-by-turn GPS applications (at this point all the Android users are smiling ear-to-ear). If you’ve been holding off on purchasing an iPhone navigation application due to the cost, NAVIGON may have something for you. In honor of their one year App Store anniversary the company has temporarily cut the prices on their navigation offerings by fifty percent. The new pricing is as follows:
- MobileNavigator North America (includes maps for Canada & US): $39.99 instead of $79.99
- MobileNavigator USA: $24.99 instead of $49.99
- MobileNavigator Canada: $29.99 instead of $59.99
- MobileNavigator US MyRegion East, Central or West: $14.99 instead of $29.99, additional regions $11.99 instead of $14.99.
- Traffic Live: $12.99 instead of $24.99
- Panorama View 3D: $4.99 instead of $9.99
This pricing is available from August 12th to the 15th, and you can find all the goods in the App Store if interested. Enjoy! More →
Microsoft threw its Windows Mobile faithful a bit of bone today by updating its Bing application with free turn-by-turn navigation. When using Bing to find directions, a new “navigate” button will allow users to navigate to their destination using voice prompts. The navigation is (obviously) powered by Bing Maps, while the voice components are provided by Microsoft’s Tellme technology. The feature is said to be available for all Windows Mobile 6.x devices on Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. Verizon Wireless was not listed amongst the compatible carriers, but seeing how the Omina II was mentioned as a compatible device we think it might be possible to get the nav feature — but not the voice prompts — to work on Big Red. Point your Windows Phone to m.bing.com and let us know what you think. More →
NAVIGON is bringing MobileNavigator, its popular turn-by-turn navigation solution to Windows Mobile and Android users in North America. Originally launched on the iPhone, MobileNavigator for Android and Windows Mobile utilizes your mobile phone’s on-board GPS receiver and pre-loaded maps to provide navigation when there is no cellular coverage. It’s a pretty feature rich app and it includes:
- Reality View Pro which displays photo-realistic 3D views with actual road signs and lane guidance for virtually every highway interchange and exit drivers will encounter
- Lane Assistant Pro which helps drivers prepare to make an upcoming exit or turn by providing a lane map complete with arrows and actual road geometry.
- Text-to-speech functionality which announces street names in addition to turn-by-turn directions
- Speed Assistant with adjustable audio-visual warnings
- Day & Night Mode for map display, 2D and 3D map view, Automatic switching between portrait and landscape format
- Direct Access allows navigation to contacts saved in the phone’s address book, Intelligent address entry
- Route Planning, Branded POIs and POIs along the route
The Windows Mobile version of MobileNavigator will ship with maps of North America (US, Canada, Hawaii and Puerto Rico) from NAVTEQ and will debut next week at Pocketgear and Smartphone.net. MobileNavigator for Windows Mobile will run $69.00 until February 14, 2010, at which point the application will jump to its full retail price of $89.00. The Android version will launch in Spring 2010 at a yet-to-be-determined price.
T-Mobile G1 owners had long wondered who would be the first to offer true navigation services for Android handsets and today we have our answer. Later this month, Android users will be able to begin testing out TeleNav GPS Navigator, the brand new navigation application that will surely be as usable and feature-rich as its BlackBerry cousin – actually, even more so. The app features 3D turn-by-turn GPS navigation with voice guidance on top of nationwide maps and a business listing directory of over 10 million POIs. It will also provide traffic alerts, gas prices, weather forecasts and even direct access to restaurant reviews. TeleNav co-founder Sal Dhanani had this to say:
TeleNav has become synonymous with mobile phone GPS navigation. It is relied upon by millions of mobile customers. It was important to us that we build a great application for Android and the G1 so that customers with this phone would have a remarkable experience. The device’s large, beautiful touch screen creates an incredible navigation experience when combined with our software.
TeleNav GPS Navigator will become available as a free 30-day trial beginning Tuesday February 24, and will run $9.99 per month for those who find it useful enough to hold on to. Unlike some bigger navigation companies building nav software for mobiles such as Garmin and Tom Tom, TeleNav still opts for the monthly subscription model as opposed to a one-time fee. The idea behind a one-time fee of course — make mobile navigation purchases akin to buying a dedicated navigation unit. Buy the hardware, get the service forever, pay a subscription if you want advanced features. Different users have different preferences of course but we wonder how TeleNav would fair with a one-time fee option as well. Which pricing model do you guys prefer?