Finding oneself is the subject of a burgeoning class of mobile apps that handle navigation and location-based services (LBS). Within this genre, some apps go beyond giving directions. Telmap, an Intel company, targets mobile LBS with apps such as Telmap Navigator. [Disclosure: Intel is the sponsor of this content.] Here, Tsipi Joseph, director of marketing at Telmap, discusses how to make your navigation app stand out in the crowd.
What are the requirements for a mobile navigation/location-based service app these days? And how does Telmap differentiate products such as Telmap Navigator from the crowd?
Tsipi Joseph: Navigation -- getting from A to B -- is a totally commoditized service today. Users are familiar with it, expect it to be included in any location-based service/app and expect it to be free.
It’s not only about flawless navigation anymore, but about enabling users to find what they want, explore their surroundings and interact with their local communities. Many of the LBS offerings out there today -- including those coming from major industry players such as Google and Nokia -- offer the same scope of services whether their user is in Manchester or Mumbai, in a “one-size-fits-all” model. Of course, in order to provide the optimal user experience, LBS providers need to take into account specific geographical and cultural characteristics of each individual market, giving users access to local content that is relevant to their immediate living environment.
And that’s exactly where Telmap comes into play. Telmap, which started years ago with a satellite navigation application, prides itself on providing a full-fledged location companion that answers all of users’ needs while on the go -- an experience that’s fully customized to their local environment. Telmap achieves that by partnering with leading and trusted brands in each of its key markets, aimed at providing a user experience that’s familiar, reliable and fully adjusted to local culture and customs.
For example, a user in France will enjoy real-time local traffic and speed camera information coming from NavX Gas (gas station prices) and parking information coming from NavX Parking (for local parking availability). In addition, they get access to Champerard Guide for local restaurant reviews, 118 Yellow Pages for people search and 118 White Pages for local business search.
How do you make sure users are able to easily use your navigation apps?
T.J.: Optimal user experience and intuitive user interface are critical to our success. Therefore, we have an in-house UX team at Telmap. We leverage UX best practices, heuristics methods and qualitative research such as focus groups and regional usability testing. In addition, we have been cultivating a dedicated international beta user-group that gets every new feature and gives us their initial feedback -- mostly quantitative research.
In May, Telmap launched two APIs that will let Web and mobile app developers send point-of-interest information directly to the Telmap Mobile Location Companion app. How have developers responded thus far?
T.J.: This has been a very successful initiative that’s continuously gaining momentum. These APIs present a real win-win-win scenario, as it helps increase exposure and usage of the Telmap app, but also helps developers and operators provide their users with additional value that complements and optimizes the desired user experience.
There are many developers working on implementations as we speak, but some of the already live implementations include Pagine Gialle (website and app), which is Italy’s Yellow Pages; the Israeli Yellow Pages group, which has implemented the APIs on several of their assets (restaurant guide, directories, etc.); and several other developers in Israel, including MAPA, Israel’s local travel guide, Joe’s Coffee -- a local coffee chain -- and Kinderland, a kids-attractions website.
What key developments will impact the mobile location-based technology over the next few months?
T.J.: Attaching context to LBS is going to become critical for the future development of LBS. Being able to provide users with offers and recommendations based on their daily routine, schedule and preferences is going to significantly enhance the intrinsic value that LBS can provide. There are also real opportunities around coupons and vouchers, a field that’s growing tremendously, together with commission-based services such as bookings and reservations.
Augmented reality is another technology to watch when it comes to LBS. It is relatively in its infancy, but if it will prove valuable to the user and go through a maturing phase, it can be very meaningful for the LBS experience. Users, especially in urban environments, can use it to better understand which stores reside in a certain building before entering the building itself, what attractions are available around them, businesses open hours, sales that are going on, etc. Indoor positioning is also something we are going to see more and more of in the near future.
Photo: Corbis Images