After social networking, the latest trend on the Internet is location-based services. Location-based services cover a broad spectrum of potential uses, right from the fairly obvious tracking and locating, to geo-tagging photographs to give them additional dimension.
One of the more popular uses of location-based services is GPS, or Global Positioning Systems. In fact, GPS devices for vehicles have no become mandatory installations in some parts of the world. They are used to track the movements of the vehicle and, by extension, the owner; in an attempt to help in potential crime-solving.
On the Internet, Google Maps has revolutionized the concept of location. Sitting in the comfort of one’s home, it is possible to visit any part of the world virtually, with real-time images. As Google Maps have spread to encompass incorporate the corporate world, by geo-tagging businesses, and the consumer world, with photographs and videos, among other user-generated content.
It was not long before GPS came to mobile phones. With 3G Internet capabilities and as the potential to use the Internet on a phone increased, GPS came to phones in a major way. There are a number of applications, both free and commercial, abounding in various mobile application stores. Google Maps is a big contender, considering the information already available to the application is already vast. Another popular application is Nokia Maps, with the advantage of being on numerous phones and being one of the forerunners to mobile GPS applications. There are also phones that can be attached to a dashboard, and used in lieu of a vehicular GPS device.
The question that arises now is whether mobile phone GPS will replace all other devices? The second question that springs to mind is whether Google Maps will edge out all other competition, much in the same way their search engine has cornered the market online.
While the answer to the first question will be evident in hindsight at a much later stage, Google Maps Navigation is definitely causing other GPS device manufacturers to lose their steady footing in the financial markets. Shares for GPS giants like Garmin and TomTom have taken a nosedive after Google announced the launch of Navigation.
Google Maps Navigation is an exciting feature, no doubt, as it is promising to offer turn-by-turn navigation on mobile devices. While it sounds simple, the technology is very sophisticated and in the same league as the vehicular GPS devices.
There are a few drawbacks to the technology though, and the first one is surprisingly also its biggest strength – the huge information store available on the servers. Processing information on that magnitude requires a powerful processor, one that has still not arrived on a mobile platform. Also Google Maps Navigation is heavily reliant on superfast Internet capabilities, so driving instructions in the wilds of the world will not be possible at all.
Possibly these are issues that will get ironed out eventually. However, it is a profound relief to know that there will still be competition for Google Maps, as a monopoly is always bad for the end user.