The Rugged Smartphone: Nextel i930 by Motorola

By Kris Kumar on Tuesday, January 17, 2006

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Built-in GPS
Before I jump into the details of the built-in GPS and the applications that take advantage of it, I would like to show how the Java based GPS applications use the external screen to guide the user even when the flip is closed. I definitely would like to see similar functionality, not to mention built-in GPS, on other flip Smartphones.

Figure 28: External screenshots with the Java based GPS application called Trimble Outdoors.

The i930 is the first Windows Mobile Smartphone device to have a built-in GPS. The GPS sensor in a Smartphone complements the already rich feature set of the Smartphone. It comes in handy in both personal and business scenarios. The i930 comes preloaded with three Java based GPS navigation applications. However, none of these applications is free. The worst part is that activating these applications requires registration with the individual companies that wrote them. Those of you who have played on Xbox Live will appreciate the simplified payment/registration process. You have to register with Microsoft and then can play any online game. There is no separate charge or special registration with the game software company. I wish Nextel had the same model with the GPS applications.

Figure 29: Mapquest Find Me screenshots. This Java application costs $3.99 per month, provides quick points of interest and location services.

Figure 30: TeleNav costs $10.00 per month and it provides turn by turn directions to a destination.

Figure 31: Trimble Outdoors costs $4.99 and has probably the best external screen integration of all the Java based applications that come pre-loaded on the i930.

Figure 32: This is the only true Windows Mobile application, all the others were Java based. This simple application lets you view the GPS coordinates and enable security so you can decide whether applications can access the GPS or not.

Overall the maps that are displayed are pretty small. A QVGA screen would have definitely improved the usability of the GPS based mapping applications. The GPS sensor, as is the case with other sensors, is unable to pick up signal inside the house. But with the antenna extended, it does pick up signal depending on your proximity to the closest window. The unit can export the GPS data as the standard NMEA output on the connector at the base of the unit. Now you can hook up your laptop, use the laptop based GPS software and enjoy the use of the bigger screen for navigation.

Last but not the least, from an emergency 911 call perspective, the i930 can accurately report your coordinates. And from a business standpoint, I believe Nextel allows companies to track their employees' locations.

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