C/Net says that Google maps on Apple’s iPad, with a large touch screen, integrated digital compass, and Wi-Fi triangulation is compelling.
But you’ll need to invest in a 3G-capable model for the best location information. The 3G-enabled iPad pings nearby cell towers as an additional means to determine your location (along with Wi-Fi signal triangulation), and the hardware on the 3G models includes extra assisted-GPS hardware, providing a true GPS experience that you can’t get on the Wi-Fi only iPads.
The hands-on video demonstrates the map’s street view mode. With the screen nearly three times the size of the iPhone’s, street view is impressive and easier to handle than a comparable laptop screen.
There’s also a new terrain view, which shows off topographical data. If you’re taking a walking or biking tour and using an iPad, the new topographical layer can help you avoid hills. This feature may be rolled out to the iPhone and iPod Touch in a future firmware update, but for now, it’s only on the iPad.
You can drop virtual pins in your map, create lists of favorite locations, search for local restaurants and points of interest, double-tap or pinch to zoom, and get directions specific for car, foot, or public transportation.
Augmented reality is not yet supported, but it’s not inconceivable that it may in the near future. Apps such as Yelp are already harnessing the camera/GPS combination of the iPhone. Third-party manufacturers may come out with a snap-on camera for the iPad eventually, but for now, the iPad’s augmented reality potential is limited without a camera.
That could be pretty sweet for bike or Segway tours.
I think I’ll wait for a $400 Android variant of the iPad with free navigation, built-in camera, SD cards, Flash, WiMAX, multitasking and HDMI output for the Big Screen.
Acer, Asus, Dell and MSI will also have Atom-based tablets using ‘Pineview’ CPUs with ‘Pinetrail’ NM10 graphics running Moblin 2.0 or Win-7. They’ll also run Streetview and Augmented Reality and cost hundreds less than the iPad.