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In-built smartphone mapping apps have been the bane of GPS companies over the past few years, but Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) latest move in the navigation space, perceived by many as a slip-up, may have offered up a door of opportunity. Apple has rid iOS devices of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps as a standalone app with the launch of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 in favor of its own homegrown app.
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However, with the new app attracting unhappy reviews and concerns about issues such as the exclusion of public transit directions, GPS giant Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) is working quickly on capturing at least some of the alternative-seeking Apple users. On Thursday, the GPS maker launched updates for two of its popular navigation apps, Navigon and StreetPilot Onboard, with new features.
A new mode called Urban Guidance offers users detailed trip directions for several public transit options, while the Last Mile feature automatically saves the location of a user’s parked car. The company’s is also making a jump into a feature made popular by Google: street view. While Apple’s new Maps app does not have a corresponding function yet, Garmin’s StreetPilot Onboard feature incorporates extensive street-level imagery into the apps. Both apps have already been fully optimized for iOS 6.
“With our recent updates our apps can now serve as an extension to Apple Maps, providing iPhone users advanced navigation capabilities” Joern Watzke, vice president of mobile phone business at Garmin Wüerzburg, said in a statement. “This includes our new public transportation functionality as well as many additional premium features that aren’t available on free navigation apps.”
However, Apple’s new app has introduced a different new challenge by offering turn-by-turn navigation — a feature that Garmin and other GPS developers sold at a significant premium — free of cost. In addition, Garmin’s apps still won’t be the first choice of many because of their price tag. The cheapest version of StreetPilot sells for $39.99, while the asking price for the basic version of Navigon is $24.99. Public transit options are a separate $2.99 in-app purchase.
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