The Tear-down of the iPhone: Maps, Weather and Stocks.

by rmtwrkr

In a world of GPS-equipped high-end smartphones, how does the iPhone measure up against them? Will the lack of GPS be a dealbreaker for some? probably. Especially if you need turn-by-turn driving instruction. Otherwise, you just might be able to get by with the Maps application..

Maps.
Another much-touted feature of the iPhone at launch, this was supposed to bring the fully operational power of Google Maps to the iPhone. Except, you know, it was already available for loads of other smartphones. But is the iPhone implementation better? I would say on the surface yes, and this is due again to the multi-touch screen. This gives it that great Jeff Han-Perceptive pixel-Minority Report feel to it. There is something great about dragging a map around with your fingers, and GOATSEing a location. But where am I? I don’t know. At present Google Maps on the iPhone does not support the ‘My Location’ feature, whereby you find your current position via Cell Tower Triangulation. I expect this to come up in a future firmware update for the iPhone. One thing I REALLY like is the way Maps integrates into other services on the iPhone. So I can look up a contact, tap the address, and it opens Maps to the location. You can also open your Contacts within Maps to see where people live. Another thing that would be immensely useful would be to allow the use of external Bluetooth GPS devices, like my own Holux GPS 230. GPS that is built into a handset is not the ‘killer app’ people think it is: Most current smartphones that have built-in GPS have poorer signal Strength/Capture/Lock-on than standalone, possibly because you can position a little GPS dongle somewhere to get better reception than trying to angle your mobile at just the right elevation to catch that satellite. I prefer the external GPS because GPS standards can change a lot (current = SiRFStar III), and this means you can upgrade your BT GPS dongle far cheaper and quicker with less hassle than a non-upgradable GPS chip locked into a handset. Besides, I personally don’t need GPS on me at all times. A feature like ‘My Location’ would suffice for most basic city foot navigation.

Weather.
It is said that the British love talking about the weather. Well we do, got a problem with that?. Thats why I love the Weather app on the iPhone. It lets me know just HOW CRAPPY the weather is in England, whenever I need cheering up. Raining again? COOL. I currently have about 7 cities that I view weather for, all of them guaranteed to be better in some intangible way than England’s weather. Why is that?

Stocks.
This is the ultimate symbol of the free market economy. And it’s on the iPhone. Honestly, I think you should get some free AAPL stock when you buy an iPhone. Because then Stocks would make sense. Otherwise for us lowly paupers that don’t own a piece of ANYTHING, its just a big windup watching the stock of Apple climb and climb..and watching M$ flatlining for the last 5 years. But, alas I found a cool trick. You can use the Stocks app to monitor current currency exchange rates! just use the syntax EURUSD=X to find out how much the Euro is kicking the dollars ass! Or, EURGBP=X to see how grossly overpriced the UK remains! Hours of fun with this little app can be had by all.

Next up: Photos and Camera

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