Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Navitime android application reviewed

Apologies to all our readers for not posting this sooner.  Actually, apologies to our one reader...

We'll start with Navitime, because it is the standard for cell phone navigation in Japan.  This is the metric against all other services will be measured.  Unfortunately, the Navitime application for Android just doesn't fucking work.  Take a good look at the screen shot, because this is as far as you will get since the application does not accept input when you get to the login screen.

Package name: com.navitime.local
Version reviewed:
Package size: 1.44 MB (installed)
Price: 315 yen per month
Droids:  zero (out of five)
Stars on android market: one

PROS:  Complete navigation solution for cars, trains, and feet.  Accurate turn-by-turn directions for walking and driving.  Advanced train schedule.  Search for destination by phone number (for businesses only).

CONS: Doesn't fucking work.

The ridiculous version number of gives the impression that this application is somewhat mature, or has at least been worked on a lot.  Obviously, this is not the case.  We have noticed that most of the comments demanding a refund have been deleted by the commenters, so it appears that Navitime is refunding money to customers at least.  We also notice that there are a number of complaints lately regarding the slowness of the application, or how ugly it is, so we must conclude that the application runs for some people.  For us, it does not.  To use Navitime, you have to register for their PC service, which gives access from both a computer and from Android.

In the train schedule department, the feature that Navitime brings to the table is the ability to see the departure schedule for any line along your route.  None of the other services offer this - most stop at allowing you to see the schedule for your originating station.  So, if you take the Chuo line from Tokyo to Shinjuku and want to change to the Yamanote line, you can view the scheduled (we emphasize scheduled because the Yamanote line is often running a minute or two late) departures for you connection.  Even better is that you can navigate the schedule to see information for stations farther down the line.  Want to change trains in Shinagawa?  No problem, just continue clicking through the schedule for departure times at any line/station along your route.  Nice.

Worth noting is that Navitime released an iPhone app for free, but withdrew it from the Apple app store.  You can see this message on their smart phone info page

諸事情により iPhone、iPod touch 向けの、サービスの提供を中止いたしました。 
We assume (as always) that this had to do with the turn-by-turn direction patents that Apple did not license prior to iPhone OS 3.0.  We are waiting to see if they will bring back an iPhone app and improve the Android app.  Google Maps/Navigation/Transit is technically capable of providing, for free, the exact same functionality.  If Google did, it would be natively available on both the iPhone and any Android handset.  Obviously, a paid service would lose out to Google's free service.  So perhaps Navitime has ceded the smartphone market to Google, which would be a bad move since, even in Japan, these smart phones will be common place in a few years.  Hopefully for Navitime, they can bring something to market that Google can't.  If not, they're done.

No comments:

Post a Comment