Thursday 13 September 2012

Airtel launches navigation app with traffic info

The app called Smartdrive comes with turn by turn navigation and also offers real time information updates on the traffic situation.

Airtel has launched a new navigation app for its Indian subscribers. It will enable users to view their location on a map and plan their route from one place to another. SmartDrive, as the app is called, comes with voice based turn by turn navigation that gives real time information updates on the traffic situation on roads around.

The app also suggests alternative routes in case of traffic congestion on the normal route.
Airtel customers can download the app from using their mobile or by sending 'smart' in an SMS to 54321.

Searching and viewing the map is free, but users will have to pay a subscription fee for the service. The navigation pack will cost Rs 10 for a day and Rs 99 for a month, while traffic updates will be provided for Rs 3 a day and Rs 49 for a month. There will be no data charges till November 30, after which users will be charged according to their data plan.

Like any other map, Smartdrive gets points of interest (PIO) listed, which you can search. POIs are grouped into categories like restaurants, theatres, shopping malls etc. This feature is free.

To calculate the congestion on a particular road, it relies on the number of GPS devices being used on a particular road and their average speed and historical trends of traffic. While the speed and history will be of great use, the number of GPS devices in India (even though most smartphones have them,) is very low and is switched on in a considerably small number of phones.

The service is currently live in Delhi and NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore cities, and will be live in Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune by December.
One can also record a trip for future reference, and get information on places from Wikipedia, if available. You can also add frequently visited locations to favorites and get Weather information as well.

While the service is feature rich, being a paid one it will not easily find takers given that Google and Nokia and all the other smartphones already get these features for free. In fact, Google only recently announced turn by turn navigation for its Google Maps in India too.

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