Turn-by-turn navigation on Apple iPhone just became free; you can add to the map yourself

invisibleSHIELD case for iPadskobbler, creator of the best-selling navigation app in Germany, today announced an industry first on the iPhone with the launch of an entirely free, turn-by-turn iPhone navigation app for North America based on a live user-editable map. Powered by CloudMade, the map leverages continual updates made by a growing community of a quarter of a million mappers worldwide – ensuring drivers always navigate using the most up-to-date road map available.

Building on the recent launch of a paid premium version of skobbler in Germany – which topped the sales charts in Apple’s App store within 24 hours of release and stayed at the top of the navigation category ever since – skobbler offers users the same advanced navigation technology to North American users, but for free. The app opens up the world of mapping to drivers and pedestrians who will feel a sense of community pride and ownership, knowing that their map updates result in a more accurate navigation experience and map of their area.

Now available from the Apple App store with no trial period, in-app purchase or subscription requirements, skobbler offers reliable turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation especially in urban areas. It features a map bug-reporting tool, engaging 2.5D graphics, night/day modes, in-app iPod music playback and bookmarks for favorite destinations.

skobbler introduces the notion of ‘It’s Your Map’ (http://www.cloudmade.com/itsyourmap), actively enabling consumers across America to help build the most detailed, free, up-to-date map of their local neighborhood. From the outset, this app is not intended to compete directly with the market leading navigation apps, instead it shows consumers the value of contributing to a free map of the world.

To initiate a map update, a user either reports a map or routing issue while using skobbler, or joins the OpenStreetMap community and makes the changes themselves, helping optimize their in-car or on-foot navigation. The more updates, the better the map and resulting navigation.

“skobbler is designed to utilize the huge potential of OpenStreetMap for navigation, and to introduce the fun of mapping to even more consumers. This revolutionizes the way that maps are used in navigation; encouraging users to map their world,” said Marcus Thielking, skobbler co-founder, in the press release. “Users who add new map content or edit OpenStreetMap are helping to build a market-changing navigation solution. Although we know we’re not quite ready to challenge the expensive premium navigation solutions, we’ll quickly get there.”

“This heralds an entirely new approach to creating global maps,” said Nick Black, Head of Products at CloudMade, in the press release. “Rather than accepting the limitations of static maps from anonymous map suppliers that sit inside today’s GPS devices, consumers themselves are taking ownership of creating and maintaining maps with stunning detail, accuracy and relevance. Today, the community is already making over 7,000 additions to the map every hour of every day.”

Using a traditional navigation app, if a driver discovers a road they are driving down has recently turned into a one-way street, it would continue to route them down that road until a map update becomes available, a time lapse of 6-24 months. skobbler is changing the pace of the navigation industry by allowing its users to flag road changes or bad routing immediately and report them to the mapping community for correction. It also gives users the option to join this growing community to update road layouts themselves and see their changes appear in skobbler shortly after that. These changes are then available to all skobbler users and will lead to outdated maps becoming a thing of the past.

How Live Updates Work

If a wrong turn, bad route, new road, one-way road, blocked or missing street is spotted while using skobbler, users have two options:

• Simply report the issue in the app by tapping on the ladybug symbol, which alerts the OpenStreetMap community to the need for its correction; or,

• Resolve the issue themselves by using CloudMade’s web-based Mapzen editor. Users can go so far as to add speed cameras or points of interest selecting from hundreds of available categories including: ATMs, gas stations, mechanics, restrooms, ski slopes, bowling alleys, parking and many more. To do this, users go to http://mapzen.cloudmade.com/ , sign up for an account, locate the problem area or where the new POI should go in the map and start updating or adding the new content.

The effort to map America and the rest of the world is already well underway. Every two days, 1,000 new people join in to map their local areas and favorite locations, with many spots across America having already been mapped.

Consumers experience these community-generated maps though mobile applications and web sites using CloudMade’s maps. Some of the most popular apps on mobile devices are Ride The City – New York City (a cycling app for New York), Ubique (an augmented reality app for travelers), Trails (an app to record and retrace favorite hiking / cycling trails), WorldView (an app that lets users view web cams from across the world), Dopplr (a social media atlas for swapping travel plans), GayCities (a travel guide tailored for gay interests), to name a few. With CloudMade, any web or mobile developer can create powerful map display, search and navigation solutions. The starting point is developers.cloudmade.com

The skobbler Navigation app is currently available in Apple’s iTunes App Store in UK/Ireland for (£1.19) here.

MacDailyNews Note: Currently, we do not see skobbler Navigation app in the U.S iTunes App Store.

Source: skobbler, CloudMade


  1. Interesting. If you click the link to go to cloudmade.com there’s a link to download skobbler. Doing so launches iTunes taking you to the iTunes App store only to result in a message that says the app is not available. Looks like the press release was a little too anxious, announcing the product before it’s really available. Oh well, in due time . . .

  2. I’d say someone jumped the gun & put out the press release before it was officially approved and available. Sort of like when newspapers release obituaries before the person is actually dead.

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