The battle of mobile platform supremacy has been heating-up over the past couple of weeks. Firstly Apple announced the latest incarnation of their desktop and mobile operating systems: Mountain Lion and iOS 6. While these will bring a wide range of incremental enhancements, the much-anticipated announcement of Apple’s own mapping service – in place of Google Maps – stole most of the headlines. The increased synchronisation of content between iOS 6 and Mountain Lion through iCloud only partly compensates for the fact that they remain quite separate operating systems.
Next-up was Microsoft with Windows 8 for mobiles and – quite surprisingly – their own mobile computer, the Surface ‘slatebook’. We like Windows 8, not least because it should allow much greater freedom for developers to create apps compared with the ‘managed code’ of Windows Phone 7. As for the Surface, this is presumably Microsoft’s way of telling Enterprises to hold-off on deploying iPads … and their consumer partners that they need to make better hardware.
Yesterday it was Google’s turn to take the stage, and they did so with multiple announcements of their own. Here’s a few things that grabbed our attention:
A Google-branded tablet! We like the look of the new Nexus 7 tablet. It’s not going to win awards for hardware innovation, and spec-wise is unlikely to deter many would be iPad buyers. However its middle of the road features are more than compensated by its extremely aggressive $199 price. It’s going to go head to head with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and surely the Nexus will win that battle. It’s the tablet the Kindle Fire should be: less ‘blocky’ hardware, the very latest version of Android ‘Jellybean’ and – most interestingly for us – in-built GPS. With CoPilot Live navigation app installed we reckon it’s going to be the best 7” sat nav in the world.
Android 4.1 – “Jellybean”. The new version of Android operating system looks set to build on the improvements of the incumbent Ice Cream Sandwich by introducing heaps of what we’d describe as ‘UI Polish’ to enhance the user experience. Also included are what’s described as ‘offline maps’ although it appears that this is not really a new feature, rather an official launch of a beta feature that allows you to download a comparatively small section of map (40 mile or so radius) to your device. We’ll of course be making sure CoPilot is compatible with Jellybean as soon as possible … and naturally we’ll continue to allow you to store entire countries or regions offline.
Project Glass. It looks like Google is determined to make the concept of augmented reality-enabled spectacles actually happen – as soon as next year. Conceptually it sounds amazing, however it remains to be seen how mainstream this will become over the next few years. We can’t help thinking that it’s currently a bit ahead of it’s time. We are also wondering whether it might become a viable “heads-up-display” platform for navigation. It *might* eventually be useful on-foot, but there’s a long way to go to make it safely usable for in-car guidance.
Read more at Google’s Official Blog
What do you think? Could wearable sat-nav glasses be the future for in-car navigation?