Over the past couple of months, a few readers have sent us in photos of the Sensis WhereIs trucks, driving around the country with five cameras mounted to their roof and a computer rack sitting in the boot, leading them to think that WhereIs is on the verge of launching an Australian StreetView competitor. Sadly, that's not the case.
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Even if both Google and Nokia are offering free turn-by-turn navigation for mobile phones (in some parts of the world) that hasn't stopped Garmin from unleashing a couple of new satnav models onto the Australian market. Both the 1450T and 1490T nüvi devices offer a 5-inch screen, lane assistance, the latest WhereIs maps and SUNA traffic.
You know what's been missing from GPS mapping? Highly detailed 3D renders of the buildings you're driving past when you're driving through the city. Well, that or unicorn riding fairies. Whereis have just announced that they're going to be showing off the 3D models of Sydney and Melbourne in upcoming devices that use their maps.
Google's announcement of their partnership with Sensis' Yellow business listings reminds me of Dawn and Tim in the original UK version of The Office. Google Maps is like Tim - sometimes funny, sometimes entertaining, while the Yellow business listings are like Dawn - pretty in their own way, has an obvious attraction to Google Maps, but is stuck with some lout of a bloke (the rest of the Sensis stable) and so pretty much misses the opportunity to go off and get together with Tim... er, Google Maps.
Fortunately, yesterday was like the second Christmas Special, and the two announced that they were finally hooking up, with Yellow's business listings to be available on Google Maps in Australia from 2009.
Yesterday, the SUNA traffic channel officially went live in Sydney and Brisbane, joining Melbourne to offer real-time traffic updates for the East Coast capital cities (sorry Canberra, you're still to come).
But how do you get it? Thankfully, getting traffic updates isn't as tricky a process as you would think, even if you already own a satnav device...
Telstra just keeps rolling out those extra services to NextG customers. After the QR codes the other week, they've backed it up with some location-based software that uses A-GPS to locate where your friends and family are, making stalking your ex-girlfriend monitoring your kids whereabouts incredibly simple.
And once you get past the obvious nefarious uses, there are also some pretty useful practical applications for this. Like if you lose your phone (or it's stolen), you can use a friend's phone to locate yours. Or if you're meeting up with some mates and they're not answering their phone - you can just use this to find out roughly where they are.
The software itself is a free download, but getting the location of your mates has a fee (of course) - it's 50 cents for a one-time thing lookup, plus 30 cents to actually receive the location alert. Alternatively, you can pay $2.95 each month and get unlimited searches (although it will still cost you 30 cents for each alert you receive.)
And even though we joked about stalking, you do need to have the person you're trying to stalk you're locating to accept your invitation before you can receive their location updates, and that may be kind of hard. I mean, you could always try and do it yourself, but that restraining order just keeps making things difficult, doesn't it?