Skobbler, Heads Up Navigator, Take Me to My Car & More

One of the reasons people like their iPhones is because it is so adaptable. It is a phone, but with apps it can also be a ruler, a flashlight, a book, a sex aid, and on the list goes, limited only by the imagination and Apple’s application approval process. One use that seems to have been highly anticipated since the iPhone was first introduced was navigator.

The Maps app was and is still a great app, and all that most people could want in a navigation app, but people have been spoiled by 3D, voice announcing, turn-by-turn dedicated navigation devices and wanted the same functions and features in their iPhone. The thinking here is that you wouldn’t need to bother with a dedicated device since the iPhone can and should fill the bill. We save a little money and get the same functionality in one device. Score!

What many folks don’t realize is that it isn’t so much the hardware, but the software and data that makes up the bulk of the cost of GPS navigation devices.

When iPhone navigation apps finally started to appear with the features people wanted few wanted to pay almost what they could for a dedicated device. The Holy Grail of navigation apps, it would seem, is one that provides at least most of the features of a dedicated device, but cost nothing but the time it take to load it onto your iPhone.

Well, it seems there is at least one app that does a decent job of getting where you want to go and it won’t cost you a dime.

Skobbler has a funky name, but the app is not bad for a free navigator. It offers turn-by-turn, voice assisted navigation using OpenStreetMap data.


Think of it as a Wikipedia, but for map data. The OpenStreetMap organization depends on data gathered and entered by its members. No satellites involved, just crowd sourced input. From what I’ve gathered so far, it’s not bad either.

Skobbler’s interface is a bit off-putting if you’re use to dedicated GPS boxes, the graphics isn’t 3D, but the information presented fits nicely on the iPhone screen. The voice assistance is good too, but not great. Also, there is a chance the data it presents is not 100% accurate, especially in rural areas. That’s because it is less likely that one of the thousands of OpenStreetMap data inputters haven’t gotten out to that particular neck of of the woods yet. If you are so inclined you can add the missing data by joining the organization (no fees) and adding your bit to the cause.

As it is, for most urban areas and commonly travelled roadways, Skobbler should work just fine. Be aware that it downloads its map data on the fly, so if you have a data plan that has harsh limits, be careful.

Skobbler is free and it works. Life is good.

If you have a good GPS navigation apps, but you want a bit of fun then have a look at Heads Up Navigator.

Navigator is an interesting attempt at augmented reality. I say attempt because the app won’t find stuff for you, you have to enter points of interest on your own. Obviously for the app to be even remotely useful you need to be able to find and see the places you are looking for. Navigator locates addresses and places you’ve entered, but you can’t search for pizza, for instance, and have it show you where all the pizza joints are in your location.

If you’re iPhone 3G or iPod Touch user, you are further hobbled by the lack of a compass. iPad users have no camera so the data is presented on a flat wire frame.

What good is it then? Well, if you have an iPhone 3Gs or better then it’s kind of fun to enter in a bunch of places then show your friends what augmented reality can look like. It’s free, but then so is Layar Reality Browser, which will give you more info.

To get the most out of either app you’ll need a built in compass so…

An app that’s a bit more useful is Take Me To My Car. You already know what this app does and many of you can recall times when you wished you had it.


It’s a simple app; when you get out of your car you turn on the app and set the location, then go about your merry way, secure in the knowledge that no matter what, if you can operate your iPhone and see the map you should be able to find your car again. Whether you should drive after you find it is another matter.

When you need to find your vehicle just turn the app on again and get directions. The app will tell you how far you are, just like that kid’s game you use to play. if you’re really far away the app will resort to Google Maps to help.

This app will come in handy at theme parks and mall parking lots. It’s free and easy to use.

That’s a wrap.

Well, almost.

When I was a kid all of the super heroes in comics where White. It never made a difference to me, I figured a radioactive spider could have bitten an Asian woman as easily as it did Petey Parker, and if that was true then a skinny Black kid had a shot at being super as well.

Then I discovered Wakanda T’Challa, kicked major butt as The Black Panther. This guy was like Batman in that he really didn’t have any super powers, just a lot of skill and a lot of money to make all sorts of toys. The Black Panther differed from Batman in one key element, ok, two if you want to count race; he had the immediate support of his country behind him whereas Batman had Alfred, and the questionable relationship with Boy Wonder, Robin.

After getting into The Black Panther the way I saw super heroes changed. Because T’Challa was just a man doing extraordinary things I could more easily relate to him. Spiderman was still my favorite, but I began to appreciate guys like The Punisher and Dare Devil. These were almost ordinary guys who took their licks and came back for more in the name of what’s right. Yeah, they weren’t real, T’Challa’s country was a fantasy, but it was closer to reality than Superman or Thor could ever be.

Anyway, there’s a new animated series out featuring The Black Panther. iTunes is offering a video of the Black Panther’s Theme as a free download. You might want to check it out. It’s not bad.

More free stuff below with direct links.