January 10, 2008

GPS on your mobile

Some of the latest mobile phones these days don't just make calls, they also act as GPS devices that can help you navigate from here to just about anywhere. My favourite 'mid-level' phone with built-in GPS is the Nokia 6110 Navigator. It's got a one-touch navigation button that makes it easy to access GPS functions and maps, features an HSDPA Internet connection for fast browsing and downloading of maps, a great 2.2" screen and 2MP camera, and features message reader technology that lets you listen to your messages.

But most phones don't come standard with GPS but that doesn't mean you can't add it as an option. Vodafone for example, just recently launched their GPS Navigation Pack which adds the popular Vodafone Compass service to a range of Nokia and Blackberry devices. At $149 the pack includes a portable GPS receiver that communicates with your phone to provide mapping information. The pack also comes with three months free access to Vodafone Compass (afterwards the service costs $79 per year, $8 per month, or $2.50 for a day pass).

The GPS receiver is a puck shaped unit, about 60mm in diameter that can easily clip on to your belt or car sunvisor. It uses Bluetooth to communicate with your phone and syncs with the Vodafone Compass service that offers users a complete navigation experience either in the car or by foot. Compass provides moving maps that like the bigger car-mounted GPS units switch directions when you do. Compass also provides well timed voice instructions and the ability to recalculate routes if you go the wrong direction. The latest additions to Compass lets users find the cheapest petrol prices on route, and also locate the cheapest parking facility that's nearest to their destination.

Before the release of the Bluetooth GPS receiver the Vodafone Compass service was only available to phones with built-in GPS but now lots of other phones like the BlackBerry Pearl and Curve plus the Nokia N73, N80, N70, N6680, N6120 and E65 can also use the service.