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Old 01-25-2008, 05:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Offline GPS Navigation IS possible with FULL North America maps! [GPS makers, read]

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Crossposted from another forum. Excellent reading material for GPS software makers. As a software developer of BlackBerries experienced in JDE 4.2 GPS/File API's, my comments probably carry more weight to GPS software makers than the average non-developer.

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Originally Posted by blane64
I am not sure, but I think it is because BBs can not run apps and stuff off the SD card. So I don't think you can put a big map file on the sd card and then access it.
Not quite accurate. Apps have to be in main memory, but data can be on the memory card.

The GPS application (which can be the same size as today apps) can be in memory, but the GPS application can read from the memory card instead of over the wireless network.

Rove Mobile File Manager from Rove Mobile - Network Administration and Remote Access is a third-party "File Explorer" for BlackBerry memory cards, is living proof that third-party applications can read & write to memory cards. I am a registered user. Open, Move, Delete, Rename, Create Folder, Edit (text files), etc. It is even a FTP and WEBDAV client too -- I can download and upload files from BlackBerry directly to/from the memory card!

And there are third party picture and music software that can play media off the memory card.

Nothing is stopping the developers of GPS software from creating software that can read directly from a BlackBerry memory card. I think some of them are just not seeing high profits yet because of market saturation & the fact that Google Maps / BBMaps are free and support GPS. For the price of "free", they are really good map software.

Because of the excellent "freebie" map software, the GPS software makers need to compete with the freebie software. Subscription based software can be very profitable, but again, there is starting to become market saturation because so many other BlackBerry users (like me) refuse to pay for subscription software. I think they can make MUCH more money if they offered a $100 software package that includes North American maps on a 2GB MicroSD card. This won't cannibalize the subscription market, but gain new users like me. Sign me up - I'd pay. At the moment, I refuse to pay for subscriber services and will get a TomTom or Nuvi device, unless I can turn my BlackBerry into the equivalent of an offline TomTom or Nuvi that I happen to carry all the time. You can bet that the profit margin is probably bigger on the software package, due to device manufacture costs especially with the massive price drops on standalone GPS units lately.

This may provide an incentive for one daring GPS company to release SD-memory-card based maps for GSM-based BlackBerries. I confirm that it can be done, they just need to be coaxed to actually do so. If you're an employee of a GPS company, please show this message to your boss. Right now, please. Find a programmer, pay them a couple month's salary, and you'll have pretty fast ROI.

Developer departments of GPS companies -- It's most likely fairly minor programming modifications to pre-existing OTA-map-download software, by moving the map cache from main BlackBerry memory (which is slow performing flash memory) to the SD card memory (on a high quality SDMicro, it can actually be faster performing flash memory), increasing the cache to 2 gigabytes and pre-filling it with entire North America, doing some performance optimizations to read a large database efficiently, then putting the cache data file on a disc (or download) to sell to BlackBerry customers who want offline map capability. Basically, the cache turns into a permanent cache that's prefilled with entire North America. That's only like 2 weeks of software development time, no? Even if parts of the computer code needs to be rebased/rewritten, it probably only needs to take more than 2 extra months at the most.

Marketing departments of GPS companies -- there are ways to market it. "NOW - GPS Navigation on your BlackBerry even while you're out of network coverage!"

I currently make a living as a mobile software developer (specializing in BlackBerry/WindowsMobile) and can confirm that this is possible with JDE 4.2 Java API's. Although currently on a contract at the moment, I can say that if one of them hired/contracted me, I can certainly improve the software and make it work off a memory card. I know it wouldn't work offline with Verizon units, but it definitely would work offline on 8110's, 8310's and 8800's even out of coverage. You don't even need a SIM card or even be subscribed to phone service! All the GPS-capable GSM-based BlackBerries can do GPS in offline. Some of them are just plain-jane SirfStarIII GPS chips.
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Old 01-25-2008, 06:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So, when can we expect your new GPS mapping app there, Mr. Rejhon?
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I hope that will be possible soon. Expecially when it uses vectors.
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Old 01-26-2008, 11:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Mark,

The biggest obstacle for a device-based GPS software right now is the current 2gig limit on the MicroSD support. Unlike other devices where the storage card is readily accessible, the BB is a pain. Once we move to larger cards, then I'd see a market for flat fee, downloadable data.

The price, other than data fee, is not different. I have used both 'on device' and subscription units, and if you want to keep current maps, both will run you about $100/year.

I woul actually see a great markt for a choice between a 'buy once' or a subscription with maps on SD card. So that you would have choice of paying for the maps whenever you felt the need for new maps, or getting the 2GB once, and then being able to download updates as they become available, either to your desktop or OTA.

Then the BB would really be the ultimate device.
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Old 01-27-2008, 04:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The developers of AmazeGPS are working on a version where you can download maps to an SD card.
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Old 01-27-2008, 05:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Would this approach get around the software lock on the 8830 GPS hardware that Verizon uses?

Not looking for a flame war, only technical information.
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Old 01-27-2008, 05:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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No, this only gets around the requirement for needing cell coverage to download the maps. GPS will still be disabled.
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rejhon View Post
Subscription based software can be very profitable, but again, there is starting to become market saturation because so many other BlackBerry users (like me) refuse to pay for subscription software. I think they can make MUCH more money if they offered a $100 software package that includes North American maps on a 2GB MicroSD card. This won't cannibalize the subscription market, but gain new users like me. Sign me up - I'd pay. At the moment, I refuse to pay for subscriber services and will get a TomTom or Nuvi device, unless I can turn my BlackBerry into the equivalent of an offline TomTom or Nuvi that I happen to carry all the time. You can bet that the profit margin is probably bigger on the software package, due to device manufacture costs especially with the massive price drops on standalone GPS units lately.
(PS Mark - I cannot quote the beginning of a sentence or paragraph with the word 'because' - thats the only thing I remembered of english classes, besides punctuation, hehe).

I'm in TOTAL agreement! I thought I was alone!

Not All providers allow for true unlimited data. I think we'll begin to see corporations cut back on wireless account spending. Most business users here in Canada would rather use that $65/mth on Rogers Wireless (on top of voice calls) allotment for 1GB of data cap for MDS Corporate application usuage; rather than GPS data and such for mapping.

In no way do I blame company's of current charge monthly fee for GPS data - in a cloud-based service (its a service not a product in my mind). However, we're beginning to see more and more applications that have been designed to NEED a data connection to give current information; even if it isn't realtime. For example weather applications - having to update every 5mins > 1hr. Do I really need to see how the weather is going to change in the same city, in increments of 5-10 degrees celcius? How often does anyone need to see the same days' weather report - weather is pretty accurate day to day EVEN if a snow storm is on-route; rarely does it drastically change direction where you'd need to be informed every hour.

Personally, I'd like to have a GPS mapping application on a BlackBerry that allows me to download my countries maps & save directly to the MicroSD card for local information retrieval. I'd pay $100CAN up front. Heck I'd pay $30CAN up front for just having Ontario's local maps. Allow me to use $10/mth subscription for Turn by Turn visual/voice guided navigation with traffic jam avoidance. This could drastically change business.

I believe the source of maps shouldn't be too hard to find, its coding to use off the MicroSD card in a timely fashion and not consume RAM on the BB HH.
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckBB View Post
Mark,

The biggest obstacle for a device-based GPS software right now is the current 2gig limit on the MicroSD support. Unlike other devices where the storage card is readily accessible, the BB is a pain. Once we move to larger cards, then I'd see a market for flat fee, downloadable data.

The price, other than data fee, is not different. I have used both 'on device' and subscription units, and if you want to keep current maps, both will run you about $100/year.

I woul actually see a great markt for a choice between a 'buy once' or a subscription with maps on SD card. So that you would have choice of paying for the maps whenever you felt the need for new maps, or getting the 2GB once, and then being able to download updates as they become available, either to your desktop or OTA.

Then the BB would really be the ultimate device.

4Gb has been the current limit for quite some time (since 4.2.1 came out a year ago.) 8Gb is supported on 4.3 and higher devices.
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Old 01-30-2008, 02:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Clark View Post
4Gb has been the current limit for quite some time (since 4.2.1 came out a year ago.) 8Gb is supported on 4.3 and higher devices.
Even so, there's no technical limitation to putting partial maps on 2GB. Plus, the database (essentially a permanent map cache) could be split into multiple files, each under 2GB, to cover a specific region of North America.
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Old 02-01-2008, 07:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Clark View Post
4Gb has been the current limit for quite some time (since 4.2.1 came out a year ago.) 8Gb is supported on 4.3 and higher devices.
But 4GB cards are still hard to find. 2 and 6 are all over the place. I fing it hard to order something like a 4GB card from an online vendor where the shipping will be almost as much as the card. Hopefuly, 8GB cards will be widely available by the time 4.3 rolls around.
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Old 02-01-2008, 07:52 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rejhon View Post
Even so, there's no technical limitation to putting partial maps on 2GB. Plus, the database (essentially a permanent map cache) could be split into multiple files, each under 2GB, to cover a specific region of North America.
I'm not arguing the technical feasibility. But once yu have your maps loaded, there is not much room left for other media files. Once OS 4.3 comes out, I'll happily put in an 8GB card and download the 2GB of map data to store on it.
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:08 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckBB View Post
But 4GB cards are still hard to find. 2 and 6 are all over the place. I fing it hard to order something like a 4GB card from an online vendor where the shipping will be almost as much as the card. Hopefuly, 8GB cards will be widely available by the time 4.3 rolls around.
I never had trouble finding 4Gb cards. Here's just one:

Amazon.com: Used and New: Sandisk 4GB MicroSDHC Memory Card with SD Adapter (BULK Packaging)
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Old 02-01-2008, 04:46 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rejhon View Post
Even so, there's no technical limitation to putting partial maps on 2GB. Plus, the database (essentially a permanent map cache) could be split into multiple files, each under 2GB, to cover a specific region of North America.
Didn't the older versions of TomTom ship on a 1GB card? Version 5 I think. I know TomTom6 had a complete NOAM file (USA and Canada) in one ginormous file, but that was slightly over the 1GB size. And slow as hell on the Treo.

I'd like to see onboard maps, too. So long as the app isn't super slow.
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:41 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Clark View Post
20%+ shipping. and most of those places will not ship to Canada. It's hard to find 4GB in brick and mortar places.
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Old 02-02-2008, 11:42 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckBB View Post
20%+ shipping. and most of those places will not ship to Canada. It's hard to find 4GB in brick and mortar places.
Amazon does, that's where I got mine. At that time it was $75 US, it's come down a lot since then. USPS (as opposed to Fedex/UPS) is the way to go.

As for Mark's post, I agree 100%. As I posted here back in August GPS Maps On Mem. Card I know that SD card based GPS programs are out there, I had one for my Nokia E62. Sure, data service based GPS apps have some advantages but 1) I hate paying monthly fees, and 2) I hate using data (esp. on limited data plans).

I finally went with Wayfinder 7 to avoid monthly fees but would snap up at SD card based solution in a second. Personally, I think subscription services and data service based GPS is a money grab, but I guess that's another topic.
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Old 02-03-2008, 09:13 AM   #17 (permalink)
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This is awesome news, i was thinking why something like this wasn't available or even possible. Im very excited to see this come to my memory card.
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:48 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klotar View Post
I finally went with Wayfinder 7 to avoid monthly fees but would snap up at SD card based solution in a second. Personally, I think subscription services and data service based GPS is a money grab, but I guess that's another topic.
Data service based can be a money grab. Subscription, as they are priced today, are no more expensive than pay-once if you intend to update your maps yearly. I'd like a combination.

I'd love to load all of NA on the SD card, and everytime I use the GPS, it checks back to a central server to make sure that I have the latest maps for that region, and downloads new ones as needed.
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Old 02-08-2008, 12:55 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I'm using trek to do it now, but really isnt that good because i have to download maps individually and all that, and no real support for directions.

Hope you guys can make something better.
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:57 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Hello Mark,

Is there a BB specific API that will allow what you're trying to accomplish listed here?

RIM Device Java Library

Thanks.
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