Discussion forum - Post and discuss topics here.

Apple Iphone and mobile navigation

 
Picture of Tim Woolford
Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by Tim Woolford - Friday, 18 April 2008, 9:25 AM
 

We have recently launched a new website http://www.london5151.com to showcase our getoagged street and PoI images of London covering over 1600 London streets and 4000+ Points of Interest such as Restaurants, Pubs, Bars, Shops.

From a PC (or Mac) clicking on a google maps link shows the getoagged image and description within a google map (there is a further option to download to google earth as well).

The next stage is to provide a mobile version of the site. We've been testing the Apple Iphone (on O2 network in UK) and were really impressed with the google maps integration.

On the Iphone clicking on the google maps link opens google maps for mobile and displays the location as a pushpin which can then be saved and navigated to/from.

So...

For our mobile site should we try and build a generic mobile site or focus on Iphone users as the integration between web and navigation is already there?  (i.e. market potential v ease/cost of deployment)

Looking forward to your comments.

Tim Woolford

Trek Wireless

Picture of Alex Kerr
Re: Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by Alex Kerr - Saturday, 19 April 2008, 1:21 PM
 
I think the answer is very simple, if you don't cater for all/more mobile devices than just the relatively tiny userbase of the iPhone, someone else definitely will and grab all your business, so up to you if you want that to happen :)
The iPhone might give the best user experience (and I'm sure today it does) but I can't see a reason not to offer services to as many people as possible. And it will always be true that users of other phones vastly outnumber iPhone users. And finally, any perceived advantages of the iPhone will quickly be replicated in other brands that have far bigger userbases. Also based on my look at the Android SDK and brief look at the iPhone SDK I would say that Android is considerably more flexible and powerful from a developer standpoint than iPhone - i.e. in what you can ultimately achieve with it.

All the best with the service,

Alex
Picture of Peter Cranstone
Re: Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by Peter Cranstone - Saturday, 19 April 2008, 2:55 PM
 
The key is the distribution model.

Google doesn't have one yet. Apple does. So it depends on whose your customer, what type of compelling service are you offering and how do you reach the customer.

Peter
Picture of William Volk
Re: Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by William Volk - Saturday, 19 April 2008, 7:54 PM
 
I agree that you need to support more than the iPhone but your comment:
Also based on my look at the Android SDK and brief look at the iPhone SDK I would say that Android is considerably more flexible and powerful from a developer standpoint than iPhone - i.e. in what you can ultimately achieve with it.
.. may be in error. The Android development system is a variant of J2SE. The iPhone SDK is a Objective-C compiler with far more access to the hardware of the device. OpenGL 3D and other high performance features are accessible. I would estimate that even the best Java implementation is going to run about 10 to 100 times slower than a compiled program.
Picture of Alex Kerr
Re: Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by Alex Kerr - Tuesday, 22 April 2008, 2:25 PM
 
Hmm, well you may be surprised then! In defence of the performance aspects of Android (assuming we're talking about the runtime engine), I can say the following.

It most certainly has access to hardware, both through low level hardware APIs but also various other APIs - e.g. a very high performance 2D and 3D engine which uses hardware acceleration if available but otherwise implements a high performance software rasterizer and 3D engine. Also location, media etc. You also have the whole OS architecture which is really very nice indeed - very flexible, very open and IMHO very well designed. The point being that this also greatly improves performance efficiencies. We can see in Microsoft Vista how very bad design decisions implemented very badly kill performance stone dead. In Android the opposite applies I think.

Dalvik is a custom JVM too, with custom bytecode, and is all built for high performance. Android supports the MSM chipsets which include Java hardware acceleration, and there are definite plans for a just-in-time compiler for Dalvik which will further increase performance.

Finally, I spoke to a developer at the recent Over The Air conference in London who had seen early Android hardware running in Barcelona and said it was extremely high performance - much better than one would expect, and miles better than the emulator in the SDK. This was on standard ARM 9 I believe. Apparently you get good performance on an ARM 7 too (I didn't even know it could run on an ARM 7 as this is below Google's published recommended spec, so I would like to confirm this).

Alex
phonething.com
Picture of Tim Woolford
Re: Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by Tim Woolford - Tuesday, 22 April 2008, 3:34 PM
 

Thanks for the comments.

Agree that Iphone market is small compared to overall mobile market. However the reason the Iphone market is so attractive to me is the simplicity of deployment.

As you will have seen the business model for http://www.london5151.com is based on paid advertising so ideally we want to reach as many mobile users as possible.

Our focus is primarily around using geotagged images (whether the geo-referencing data is in the image, or external ie in KML) for navigation. The big technical issue we have faced in the past is getting an image from our website to a device (and putting it in the right location). The problem has been twofold:

1. Multitude of devices to support/test

2. Mobile networks introducing content adaptation and reformatting our geotagged images thereby removing all the EXIF data. While we are whitelisted how do we cover every possible network that a user may use to access our content?

We had not initially seen the Iphone as a platform for our content, it was only when we tested it (to be honest more out of curiosity) that we found that:

a) Our website while not 'mobile optimised' worked pretty well on the device.

b) Google maps for mobile was integrated into Safari.

c) The navigation aspect with our content worked 'out of the box'

This goes back to the biggest challenge with mobile, in the PC world essentially I only need to test with IE, Firefox, Safari and can be sure if my app works on these browsers then I'm 99% sure that most users can access my site. If only the mobile world was that simple. Whatever the pros/cons of the Iphone Apple has suceeded in creating a PC type ease of use. The attraction to smaller businesses such as mine with limited resource is that much of the pain of deployment and testing has been removed.

Tim Woolford

Picture of Alex Kerr
Re: Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by Alex Kerr - Tuesday, 22 April 2008, 5:57 PM
 
Tim,

Agreed on all accounts. I think you're entirely sensible to focus on iPhone initially for all the reasons you've given. As regards other mobiles you're just encountering the issues we (mobile service developers) all grapple with on a daily basis. I'd suggest a staged rollout as and when you can manage it, rather than ignoring other devices completely.

As William Volk has pointed out previously for MyNuMo's cool iPhone apps, they've found (as have others) that these generally work pretty well with only minor tweaking on other WebKit based browsers - so all the latest Nokia S60 phones (the Nokia browser was introduced with a particular revision of S60 and I can't remember off the top of my head which) - not just NSeries but the huge-selling 6120 Classic as well for example (which is excellent). Android will also have a good WebKit based browser. You may find some issues with your particular app, but I think the experience of William and others should at least give lots of hope and a strong starting point. The N95 alone has sold over 10 million worldwide (over a million in the UK) - so all those Webkit browsers out there present a huge potential userbase, IMHO.

As for mobile networks content-adapting (transcoding) this is precisely why I and others (led by Luca Passani) have been so vehemently against this practice (when it's forced on the user or content provider) and kicking up such a stink (notably on the Mobile Monday forum) - it's not because we've got nothing better to do, it's because it really is very bad indeed (though I understand networks have been misled by transcoder vendors to an extent).

Good luck!
Alex
Picture of William Volk
Re: Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by William Volk - Wednesday, 23 April 2008, 1:14 PM
 
What the N95 needs is an ecosystem so users can discover apps. That was the central tenet of my discussion at the Future Technologies conference,
Picture of Alex Kerr
Re: Apple Iphone and mobile navigation
by Alex Kerr - Wednesday, 23 April 2008, 1:52 PM
 
Yep, picked up on that and totally agree.