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iPhone 3G Navigation Getting Bump From GPS Toolmakers

TomTom's technology will come with a hardware car kit and be available in late summer. Navigon says its software will be available this month.
Apple iPhone 3G S
(click image for larger view)
Apple iPhone 3G S

Two GPS vendors are vying to become the first to deliver turn-by-turn directions for the iPhone.

On Tuesday, TomTom said it plans by the end of summer to deliver an app combined with a hardware car kit for the iPhone, while Navigon said it plans to release mobile navigation software by the end of the month.

Turn-by-turn directions have been a missing piece of the iPhone puzzle. Starting with the iPhone 3G introduced a year ago, the device included GPS support, so it knows where you are. It runs a Google Maps app so it knows various locations surrounding the device. The Maps app will plot a route. But the device won't give you turn-by-turn directions so you can drive where you want to go.

The TomTom product will include a car kit that attaches the iPhone to the dashboard or windshield of a vehicle. The car kit includes charger, external speakers, and a GPS booster to improve accuracy of navigation. The TomTom app also will operate in standalone mode, and the car kit can be used with any iPhone audio app, including the phone and built-in iPod.

TomTom was short on specifics about the product's capabilities. It will integrate with the Contacts app, but will it also integrate with the Maps app, so can you search on a location on Google Maps, and then plot a course to it? Will it integrate with third-party apps like Yelp, so you can search for a restaurant on Yelp, and then find directions to it using TomTom? Tom Murray, VP of market development for TomTom's North American subsidiary, said he couldn't say, because the company is still finalizing features and capabilities.

"The goal is to give iPhone users what they expect in terms of performance and integration," he said. TomTom released a one-minute video demo describing the features.

Reuters reported a year ago that TomTom had a navigation app already running on the iPhone, but didn't give a release date. The iPhone 3G S, announced Monday, is the first with support for turn-by-turn directions.

Similarly, Navigon announced its own plans turn-by-turn directions app for the iPhone on Tuesday. The software will come in two versions: a "Lite" version, which displays maps and has the ability to display points of interest in the vicinity, and the full version, with navigation tools.


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