Here is a great site for the real time tracking of Columbia HTC Cycling team members on the Tour De France. It provides the GPS location, Speed, Heart Rate, Power and Cadence. I wish I had the heart rate of these guys when I ride...
Back in October I purchased an application called Restaurant Reservations which provided users with an interface to select restaurants from the Open Table database and make reservations using Open Table's mobile web site. A couple weeks later that application was removed from the App Store.
There seems to be a bit of a misconception in the reviews. People are expecting the application to work like the full web site. The iPhone application is designed to get you a reservation at the closest location based on your GPS/Cell/WiFi location or a location you enter. It then lists availability sorted by the establishment closest to you. This differs significantly from the web site which allows to search for establishment by different criteria, read reviews and once you select the restaurant you want, you then look for reservation availability. A few reviews also chided the applications for not providing directions, it does give you the opportunity to get directions via Google maps once your reservation is confirmed. And with the iPhone new firmware 2.2 Google maps allows you to choose directions by car, walking or transit which is great in the city...
You can argue one way or the other and Open Table should probably implement both work flows, but for now this is a very welcome application and it works well for me. I have placed it on the coveted first home page since I know I will use it often.
In version 2.2 of the iPhone software, Apple has implemented Google maps street view which is a 360 degree panorama of a street. To enable street view in Google Maps drop a pin on the location you want see. Tap on the pin, if the icon on the left hand side of the tag is enabled (not grayed out), tap on it to display street view.
The red arrow indicate where you tap to get to the Push Pin option as well as map, satellite or hybrid options. Street view works with any of the map display options. The yellow circle indicates where the street view icon is located. In this image, it is grayed out, letting you know that street view is not available from this location.
I dragged the push pin to the intersection and the street view icon is enabled allowing me to tap it.
Street view is only available in landscape (makes sense). Swiping allows you to move up, down, left and right in a 360 panorama. Tapping the map in the circle on the bottom right hand corner returns you to where you were. As you pan around the street name is also displayed.
Trapter just released a new update to its iPhone application which allows you to configure the application to not alert you continuously of police or camera location within the selected radius.
I will be tuning "Continuous Audible Alerts" off. It would have been nice to be able to select the number of times you want to be alerted. You might not hear it the first time, so being able to set it to 2 or 3 times would be almost perfect. I have not had a chance to use this update but I hope the map rendering speed has improved...
Last week, I emailed them a question about how they planned to keep the restaurant database up to date but never heard back. I also found what I think is a bigger problem for my use of the application, the fact that they did not use or manage the cookie the opentable web site uses to keep your name, phone number and email address used to make a reservation. This means you have to enter the information every time you make a reservation. When you use the mobile.opentable.com web site automatically enters that information for you (after you entered the first time you use the web site).
Who knows what happened, it is too bad I thought the application had a lot of promise.
Earlier this year I wrote a review on trapster on pocketnow.com. Trapster is basically a graphical (it uses Google Maps) forum to report police activity and traffic cameras. It is an excellent application of Location Based System (LBS) technology. At the time I wrote the review, there were applications for the Nokia N95 (Symbian) and Windows Mobile platforms. Now trapster.com has a version for the iPhone. The iPhone 3G with its GPS is the perfect companion for trapster. Version 1.0 is available free in the App Store. The application is easy to use but I have 2 complaints:
You cannot use finger gestures on the map (scroll and zoom)
There needs to be a way to control the voice prompt when you are within range of a camera or police activity, the continuous bark can drive you nuts. There is a mute button, but you should be able to set the number of times the voice prompt repeats itself.
I took this screenshot inside, which meant that I was not getting a GPS fix . The large red circle approximates my location based on the cell tower's location my iPhone is linked to. What this also demonstrate is that the application can be used by a 1st generation iPhone without GPS...
Update 10/20/08 application was removed from app .store.
I use the OpenTable online reservation system fairly frequently and have found that using their standard or mobile web sites in Safari is clumsy . If I know the restaurant I want to reserve, there is no issue. However if I want to browse for a restaurant close to my current location the web site is somewhat difficult to navigate. If you use a PC the OpenTable website works well, it is just not designed for the iPhone or Safari.
The developers of the Restaurant Reservations application realized the issues, and have provided an good alternative to using Safari to browse OpenTable. For $.99, it is worth the price.
There seems to be some confusion between the standard and mobile OpenTable web sites. The Restaurant Reservations application uses the mobile web site. From my support discussion with OpenTable they run those sites on separate systems (they have plans to merge them). The standard web site requires logon credentials while the mobile web site does not. OpenTable matches your account on the mobile web site by using your name, email address and phone number. Once you enter them once, a cookie is created to remember the information on your device. Also the reservations made on the mobile web site are not viewable in the standard web site and vice versa.
The killer function in Restaurant Reservations is the ability to use your current location to find nearby restaurants. It then provides you description information, address, phone number, transit information, and a link to reserve via OpenTable. The application brings up the OpenTable mobile web site for you to complete the reservation. You can then use Google Maps/Directions to find your way there.
It would be nice for reviews to be included, transit directions/time, and links to restaurant web sites. Since the current list of restaurant information is stored locally, I am not sure how the application synchronizes its database to keep it up to date. Hopefully this will be done over the air and not via iTunes...
Just as a note: Zagat also uses OpenTable to make reservations. Their mobile web site www.zagat.mobi provides reviews and links to the OpenTable mobile web site. You must however set your location manually. Zagat does require a subscription to view their reviews, basic restaurant information is free.
I have been using trapster.com on and off for over a month now. The review which was published on pocketnow.com provides an overview of the service which I describe as the social of radar detector. Read my review on pocketnow.
Already March...Last week I finally took my advice and bought a desktop machine designed to run Vista. My old Intel D863PERL (motherboard) based desktop was just not performing when it came to multimedia activities. I could never get a smooth preview when editing video using Sony's Vegas 8 application or for that matter Microsoft's Movie Maker. The machine was stable, however there were enough kinks that it was starting to become a pain and I was stuck with a 2.4GHZ Pentium D processor (the board's revision would
not let me upgrade to a 3.0GHZ processor). I ended up purchasing a Dell XPS 720. This is clearly a different class of machine with a Quad Core processor. Vegas 8 preview runs smoothly and it is designed to take full advantage of pipelining instructions across the four cores. The XPS 720 is very well engineered, the drive slots are easily accessible and adding the 2 SATA drives from my old machine was a breeze. My drive configuration on the XPS 720 stores the OS/programs on the drive that came with the machine
and my profiles/user data on a RAID 1 configuration using the 2 drives I took from my old machine. In order to place the "users" directory on a different drive I modified the registry and followed Joshua Mouch's instructions (link). I was thinking of using junctions or mklink but changing the registry seemed more intuitive for my use. The registry mod seems to work quite well and I was able to
restore my profiles from my old machine. I plan on reinstalling applications one by one, to clean up my previous environment. So far so good, I had one issue using the extended desktop on dual monitors which was cleared up by installing the latest nvidia drivers. I used the chat and remote control features with Dell support and that worked well in identify the issue.
Apple has released version 1.1.4 of their iPhone firmware which was opens up the SDK functionality. I plan on using Zibri's ZiPhone upgrade utility which jailbreaks 1.1.4. I will probably upgrade later this week. I am starting an article on trapster.com, a web site and Location Based System applications (LBS) which allow you to capture/track speed traps using GPS and WIFI on mobile devices. I want to compare trapster's LBS
accuracy against the iPhone's Google positioning system included in firmware version 1.1.3. LBS is an emerging class of applications and when someone develop the killer application it will be a goldmine.
The final Verizon SMT5800 reviews will be published this week on pocketnow.com
The Altec Lansing SoundBlade Bluetooth speaker review should appear next week on pocketnow.com.
As the press frenzy of the International Consumer Electronics Show CES 2008 winds down, it is time to review what I saw during those few days, and write up my thoughts and opinions of my first visit. I tried to see a bit of everything and will report on more than Windows Mobile. It was quite a week, so much to see and so little time with 140,000 of my closest friends ...I was definitely on information overload but in the end I concluded that all of the technology on display was evolutionary and there was nothing revolutionary, that said there were areas of the shows that were very interesting. I have whittled the interesting technologies into the following areas: