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15 June 2010, 10:20

Skobbler brings open source maps to UK iPhones

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Zoom Birds-eye view driving directions in skobbler on an iPhone.
The skobbler navigation application for iPhone is now available in the UK and Ireland. Skobbler uses data from the OpenStreetMap Project (OSM) to display maps and directions on a user's device and supports the iPhone 3G and 3GS – it's likely the iPhone 4 will also be supported when it's released in the UK on the 24th of this month.

The navigation app, specifically aimed at mobile phones, features voice assisted turn-by-turn driving directions and support for pedestrian navigation with path visualisation. Users can choose from a top-down two dimensional (2D) map or a birds eye view, which the company considers 2.5D. Additionally, users can also submit bug reports for OSM maps from within skobbler and control iPod playback without leaving the app. When away from base, users can simply use the "take-me-home" option to have the program automatically calculate a route home from their current location.

A lite version of skobbler is available to download (iTunes link) for free from the iTunes store. The paid version (iTunes link) costs £1.19 and is ad-free. Skobbler, a German company, encourages users to provide feedback or get help by emailing them at While the skobbler app itself is not open source, the OpenStreetMap maps are released under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 license.

A similar mapping application for the iPhone is oMaps, which The H used to navigate around Paris at last year's Open World Forum. It too uses mapping data from the OpenStreetMap Project, but does not provide voice assisted turn-by-turn navigation. However, oMaps is able to download the OSM “tiles” which make up the map and store them. When roaming to a city like Paris, where data roaming charges can be very expensive, it allows offline use of maps without incurring data charges, but still retains the ability to zoom, position with GPS and align a map with the iPhone 3GS compass. oMaps costs £1.19 and is available in the iTunes Store (iTunes link).

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