Finally, it is here:
And it works great! I tested this on my iPhone – easy enough to do. Go to an area where StreetView has taken pictures – in this example, Greenpoint. Click on one of the pins that drop on the screen, and you will see a small orange icon on the left of the description, and there you go. As you can see here I am looking at Main Road, and there on the right is the stadium.
In similiar fashion to overseas, all cars registrations and people are blurred out.
Thanks to Google!
I recently got contacted by the folks at ALK – they wanted to show off their new CoPilot Live product for South Africa. In case you dont know, CoPilot is available on iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile. I have been using the iPhone version for the past week, and yes, I am very impressed.
I have used alternative solutions by other vendors on the iPhone, and over time certain things started to irritate me. It has gotten so bad, that in most cases I just fire up Google Maps instead of actual GPS apps. Their database is up to date, and their routing is good as well. But of course, Google Maps does not actually navigate you to the your destination, with a convulatuted next, next, next type of interaction which is downright dangerous to use in a car. (Maybe one day they will grace South Africa (or even the iPhone) with that feature.
So lets get round to CoPilot Live 8. The install is easy enough – it is on iPhone after all. Standard Appstore solution. At 100MB+ you do want to download it through wifi however.
First off, the interface is slick and easy to use. Buttons are large, and easy to interpret, which is necessary when using a GPS in your car. Most things can be understood at just glance, which I appreciate. It’s pretty clear when you open it that it is a ported interface (it is almost exactly the same as on the Android and Windows Mobile), which I normally dont like. But after playing around with it, I realized that it works very well, despite not following the typical iPhone app look. Integration with the iPhone keyboard is perfect, which is more than I can say for NDrive. The level of detail on the maps is also great – in fact much better than with my Garmin with the latest mapset. The maps move along at a good pace – and there is a very cool feature where the top of the screen is changed to indicate where the current lanes you are driving down is heading. Orientation switch between landscape and portrait is quick and without bugs.
Voice instructions are clear and loud enough (on the 3GS at least). Routing was very good, and seems to be very similiar to my Garmin dedicated device. Talking about Garmin – they bring out new mapsets, and still havent included my security village’s road, which is by no means new. With CoPilot, it is there, with all the streetnames. And here I thought dedicated devices like Garmin have always been the best. Small issues include the strength of the GPS signal, but this is a iPhone issue, not the software. On cloudy days, it did take a while to grab the signal, but just leaving it under the windscreen seemed to do the trick.
The performance on the iPhone 3GS was very good, but it was a lot slower on the 3G, and I did get some warnings on the 3G about memory shortages. But it did not crash once, which is good. Battery life was also better than I expected, and a hell of a lot better than using Google Maps which has to continually download map tiles as you go along. A small thing I also appreciate is the integration with the iPod – and creating quick playlists were a breeze. Also, while playing music, it didnt stutter once while giving directions, and the music were slightly turned down while talking, and than smoothly increased back up to the previous volume. I really appreciate that.
Even if the interface of a GPS app is good, it comes down to routing ability. And this is where CoPilot really shines. It has calulated all my routes perfectly, and never once give me an error, or a situation where I had to second guess it. And just for that I really like CoPilot. I wouldnt hesitate recommending this to people who are still not happy to use GPS’s. In fact, I have stopped using my Garmin in the last few weeks.
One criticism I have is that the South African version of CoPilot is expensive – CoPilot makes versions of CoPilot for many parts of the world, and currently the only version that is more expensive than the SA one is a version for the entire Europe. Meanwhile, the entire US mapset costs $19.99 at the moment. What makes this even more unfair is that the SA one doesnt support many of CoPilot’s “live” features, such as traffic reports. Now I realize there isnt infrastructure in place for this in SA, but still, the price seems to target international travellers visiting SA for the World Cup. Maybe the map providers in SA ask very high prices, but I think the price should drop a lot. At least we do get weather, and you can easily ask for current location or just about anywhere:
Overall I am very impressed by CoPilot Live – it is clear that they have put more attention to detail in their product – it runs smoothly, and works well around the iPhone’s application framework shortcomings. I am actually very interested to see what how they will implement the GPS framework of iPhone OS 4.0 in the future.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (drop the price and I will give it a 5)
Works well – nice speed, reliable
Routing works well
Very detailed mapset
Interface is excellent – good example of how porting is not always a bad thing
Pricey for the SA version
Performance on the 3G is significantly slower than the 3GS
Greg Montjoie, General Manager of Hosting Solutions at internet service provider Internet Solutions suggests that companies are not yet grasping the full benefits offered by cloud computing. Despite the fact that there has been a definite shift towards conducting business in the cloud, he feels that most businesses do not understand the true benefits of cloud computing, and are instead just “computing in the cloud”.
Montjoie makes the distinction between accessing specific applications via the internet to perform computing tasks (computing in the cloud), and a setup that allows for seamless maintenance, migration and optimisation of hardware, regardless of geographic location (true cloud computing).
True cloud computing allows companies to make the best use of their infrastructure at all times, and to ensure that resources are allocated to business priorities. Such a system also has built-in redundancy – if a specific server is down or not running at optimal efficiency, processes can be diverted to another server without the user even noticing. Other key benefits mentioned by Montjoie include agility, reliability, performance and interoperability.
He cites the example of companies using cloud computing to ensure more efficient utilisation of their hardware and networks across different timezones. “So when it’s daytime in London, for example, those servers are running at near full capacity, while those in Tokyo are running only the basics.” Likewise when it is evening in London, capacity there will be cut to a minimum while Tokyo’s servers are allowed to run at full steam. “The beauty of cloud computing in this instance is that it is a seamless, automated process that the user is completely unaware of.”
“As with any technology, companies really need to look at the full spectrum of features to ensure they maximise the benefits they derive from changing the way in which they operate,” Montjoie concludes.
This is a big deal folks. In terms of market capitalization, Apple has just shot past Microsoft. For many, many years Microsoft was untouchable, but unfortunately their growth in terms of share price has been dwindling recently. Apple on the other hand, has had a impressive growth spurt in the last few years, starting with the iPod, and now their big money maker, the iPhone.
What makes this even more impressive is that in the mid nineties, Apple were just about ready to close up shop. With a bunch of corporate shake ups and poor leadership on the board, many expected the company to just give up. Luckily Apple somehow go hold of its ousted leader, Steve Jobs, and put him back in charge as interim CEO, or in Apple speak, the iCEO. Before this, Dell CEO, Michael Dell famously pronounced that the right thing to do for Apple is to close shop, and give back the money to the shareholders. Imagine you were one of the shareholders then – things are definitely looking up today. This because Steve Jobs shaked up Apple’s structure and brought back its culture, something that was always Apple’s biggest asset.
What he did is basically scrap unnecessary product lines and refine existing products to just a few choices. It is still very much evident today with the Apple range of products. Despite thinking that people want infinite choice, Apple proves that people do not want to be bombarded with different products.
Now one should not dismiss Microsoft in this – this is after all percepted value of a company based on shares. Apple only has around 10 percent of the US market, while Microsoft is still very profitable, despite these profits primarily coming from its operating systems and productivity software, but then again they sink a lot of money in to other divisions like Xbox and Windows phone, which is yet to turn signaificant profits, if any at all.
What it comes down to is that investors are not always the best people to value a company – Microsoft is still the dominant player in the corporate market, where scale, not pure profit per sale is what is more important (just go look at the profits in building an iPad). Whatever you might read into this, we still live in a Windows world.
I dont believe Microsoft to take back their place in the next few weeks – Apple has an exciting month lined up. On June 7th they are releasing their next generation iPhone (which has been leaked it seems, and it looks great) and also roll out the next release of it iPhone operating system, which will roll out to eager iPhone 3G and 3GS users. This software update also addresses one of the last major criticisms of the iPhone platform with multitasking, although only for the 3GS model (and of course the upcoming one).
I think the battle is still coming.
PS: If you want some history on Apple, go read iCon: Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, a great book by Jefferey S. Young. Another great book is Inside Steve’s Brain, by Leander Kahney (he is the guy behind the Cult of Mac website).
Here are a few key facts taken from the chart:
See the full infographic on the Website Monitoring site.
FEMTECH is a six-month business support programme aimed at women who own and run technology-enabled businesses.
The course includes workshops, ongoing personal mentorship and coaching and women-centered peer networking.
To be eligible for the programme, you must be a female business owner with demonstrated entrepreneurial skills, who is currently running a business, preferably one that is technology-enabled. Alternatively, you must have plans to introduce an innovative product or service into an existing business, or to spin out a business from a corporate environment.
You also need to be within travelling distance of Pretoria, and must be able to attend training and mentoring sessions at least once a month between July and October.
Applications close on 31 May 2010. Twenty applicants will be chosen to complete the programme. Visit the FEMTECH website for details of how to apply.
Seesmic for iPhone is now available for download in the App Store. The application allows you to post to Twitter, Facebook and Ping.fm (which in turn gives you the option to update platforms like MySpace, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Flickr and Blogger).
With Seesmic for iPhone, you can: