Navigation is no longer just about maps and getting from A to B, even if you’re in the business of providing mobile navigation information. Telmap, a satnav application for smartphones based on Navteq maps, says “navigation is now a commodity” and one that its both hyper-local and hyper-personal.
Navigation tools have instead become a “location companion”, Motti Kushnir, chief marketing office for Telmap, says. Seeing how important ultra-local content was becoming, Telmap initiated partnerships with authoritative sources such as the Good Beer Guide and Qype to offer smartphone users localised reviews that match their particular interests.
A student, a mother and a professional are unlikely to have the same information needs, reason Telmap, and are instead being offered a choice of integrated reviews apps that are tailored to their own interests. These are provided as part of a customisable Telmap app that comes preloaded on a range of smartphones.
Rather than the user launching a succession of themed apps, all of which are independent but also loacation-aware, or enter a search term and get back an unrated list of results, Telmap puts relevant apps into the maps itself. These integrated maps, local search and navigation are increasingly being used as complementary tools to provide on the go reviews and recommendations from trusted sources. Reviewers can gain recognition, while featured venues can post details of two-for-one offers and other deals when someone looks for their type of service and are within striking distance of it.
Telmap has not abandoned its satellite navigation roots, however. In addition to the free basic version of its "location companion" app, it is offering a premium version for £4 a year. This adds more apps - in-app billing is supported for this purpose - and also allows users to get real-time routing so they can avoid traffic jams and road closures.
As with the location-based app reviews, much of the information here is crowd-sourced. A driver can click a single button on their smartphone screen to indicate a blockage on the route. They then specify which direction they are driving. Telmap then uses a range of sources and algorithms to verify the blockage information before automatically adding a warning and rerouting other Telmap users travelling the same roads.
Where insufficient real-time TMC traffic data is available, flow data and historical data is used for routing. In contrast to previous versions of Telmap, rerouting is now automatic, rather than offering the user the choice of sticking with their current route or being diverted.
Keen to break the strangehold that Google Maps exerts, apparently rival mobile operators such as Vodafone and Orange have been happily sharing anonymous smartphone user data and reporting in order to create a more complete traffic picture. The Telmap service is overlaid on Navteq maps and therefore cuts the TeleAtlas-based Google Maps out the equation.