Location Awareness on the iPhone


I spent part of yesterday relocking, unbricking and upgrading my iPhone so that I could check out some of the new apps. After some trial and error, it worked (hint: you have to upgrade iTunes to 7.7 first!). I was curious which apps would use location (more than I expected) and whether or not I can make do without the iPhone 3G’s GPS (I don’t think I will upgrade immediately especially when weighed against 3G’s battery and monetary cost).

I am thrilled with the variety of location-aware applications that have come out. There are cameras, to-do lists, messaging clients, browsers, and friend finders that all make good use of my geographic coordinates. However, there are two areas that I feel are lacking from the location-aware apps.

Games – I was not able to find any location-aware games. There aren’t any It isn’t surprising that this area is lacking. It is only recently that location-based game platforms (like WherigoRadar post) have started to emerge. I can’t think of any breakout location games. I hope that the iPhone is the platform for that breakout.

Location Trackers – One of the cheapest classes of GPS devices is a Logger. It’s a simple device (or a feature of a more complex one) that records your tracks for the day. It’s great for tracing hikes, running routes, geo-tagging photos or just your daily journeys. There are some days when i would love to trace my path. If you have the original iPhone, which uses cellphone towers and wifi hotspot triangulation, this type of app will only work in urban environments. If you have the iPhone 3G in theory it should work anywhere with a clear view of satellites.

twittelator where

My main beef about the iPhone location-sharing implementation of these apps is the number of times I have to give permission to the various apps that I want to use. They all need my to ask for my location before proceeding if I haven’t used them in a while. This happens even when I explicitly invoke an action that requires my location (as opposed to the many apps that want to use it in the background). 95% of the time I am going to press “OK” for every app that asks. As Joel mentioned on BB Gadgets I really want some way to give blanket permission to use my location during a session or for an app at all times. A simple way to turn on and off all location tracking activities will hopefully come in a future update.

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