While Apple develops turn-by-turn GPS navigation features for the iPhone, one company has shown it can be done. Sygic, based in Bratislava, a region in southwest Slovakia, displayed its mobile GPS application for the iPhone 3G Wednesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The company offered meetings to business partners leading up to the event to show them its Sygic Mobile app for the iPhone 3G and smartphones with Symbian and Windows Mobile operating systems.
Sygic Mobile provides turn-by-turn GPS directions with voice-prompted instructions. It also includes stored maps, points of interest, and support for a variety of countries. The app uses TeleAtlas maps.
Sygic, founded in 2002, has been working on navigation software for the past seven years. In 2006, the company entered the mass market with its first product. It was not until 2008 that Sygic showed its 3-D navigation engine for smartphones and Linux operating systems. Now the company makes downloadable GPS apps for smartphones and PDAs.
"Likely this capability will continue to be sold aftermarket, as it is on many smartphones today," said Ken Dulaney, a Gartner analyst. "They cannot give everything away for free."
Taking Its Time
While Sygic is marketing its GPS application, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has taken its time in offering consumers a GPS navigation feature. That feature was expected to be included in the iPhone Software 2.1 release, but was absent.
And it's not just Sygic that is showing up Apple. Last month, Garmin International debuted its nüvifone, a touchscreen handset that merges a 3.5G phone, browser and GPS navigator.
The GPS in the nüvifone, which looks similar to the iPhone, includes turn-by-turn navigation and voice-prompted directions.
Despite Sygic's effort, it may not be allowed to offer Sygic Mobile through Apple's App Store for the iPhone. Apple has banned GPS navigation applications in its software developer kit. Specifically, Apple prohibits developers from developing turn-by-turn GPS software for the iPhone.
"Applications may not be designed or marketed for real-time route guidance; automatic or autonomous control of vehicles or aircraft or other mechanical devices; dispatch or fleet management; or emergency or life-saving purposes," the SDK says.
"They are the canary in the coal mine, so to speak," Dulaney said when asked if Sygic will be able to get around Apple's ban. "We will see. That is an answer only the lawyers and the courts can say for sure."
Still, Sygic plans to submit the Sygic Mobile app to the App Store to see if it is approved and has no intention of offering as a jailbreak application, the company told iphoneblog.com.