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Monday, 29 September 2008

New navigation program skobbler promises a lot but delivers little

skobbler mobile navigation from Navigon
New navigation program skobbler from Navigon promises many things: free text and voice navigation, intuitive operation, easy searching, easy installation. It also comes with a built-in hotel booking service to make money for skobbler.

But the beta test version doesn't live up to its promise. Instead, skobbler does a good job of annoying the hell out of you.

Trouble starts with the installation process. Instead of letting you download an installer, skobbler insists on installing on the fly from an SMS or web link. Of course there's a way around that: download the .jad file for your phone model, open it in a text editor like Notepad, and look for the URL of the corresponding .jar file.

But no matter how you choose to install skobbler (SMS link, browser, downloaded .jar/.jad files), you'll be prompted to download and install additional files through your mobile web browser before the program gets going. It also wants you to register with your email address, or else it will stop working after the two-week trial runs out. Skobbler may be free, but it comes as a time limited trial anyway.

Finding an address didn't work when I tried to look for streets in Frankfurt, Lisbon, and Oxford. When I entered an english zip code, skobbler displayed a map of the wrong location. Skobbler is supposed to find locations from the address fields in your phone book, but it couldn't map any of my contacts in England, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, and France. The local search option was unable to find bars, restaurants, or anything else.

Time to uninstall skobbler. The additional skobbler service program that gets downloaded during the first run is not removed when you uninstall skobbler itself, so you'll have to find it in the Symbian application manager to get rid of it.

Maybe skobbler will turn into a useful navigation program sometime, but it has a long way to go.

skobbler.com
download scobbler .jad file


2 comments:

Philipp said...

Hi,

I am technical responsible for the skobbler project. So of course it's not good to hear that you did not like skobbler.

To your comments:
1.) Installation process
It's true that it is a bit problematic that we don't offer a program download, but the problem is that with all the voice files, etc. it is too big to come pre-packaged so we would need a version for every language, that would create immense test-effort on our site, but we will evaluate what we can do to address this issue.

With the registration: We have to do that for reporting purposes to our map supplier, sorry about that.

Regarding address search: This is really strange, because this was tested very extensively and works really well. Could you provide some sample addresses? (philipp @ skobbler.de)

And local search, that only works in German which is the only market were really all features are available at this moment.

Sorry for any trouble, and hopefully we can in 3-6 months also provide a better option to people in GB.

Best regards,
Philipp

symbianism said...

Hi Philipp,

1) Why is the display lighting app installed separately? Does that come in different languages too?

2) Why is the "skobbler service" program not removed when you uninstall the main app?

3) Your maps come from Navteq. That's where Nokia Maps and other navigation programs get their maps as well, but unlike skobbler the other apps don't ask for registration.

4) Everytime I launch skobbler it asks me if I want to let it autostart. What about a "no, and never ask me again" option?

5) Travessa S. João da Praça, Lisboa, Portugal doesn't seem to exist in the world of skobbler. Changing "Lisboa" to "Lisbon" and "S." into "São" made no difference. Google Maps found the place in all spelling varieties.

6) "High Street, Oxford, United Kingdom" produced 13 results, even though there's only one city of Oxford in the UK. High Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire was somewhere halfway down the list. It seems that skobbler doesn't know the difference between a city and a county.

7) The zip code for Queen's College on High Street, Oxford, UK is OX1 4AW. Skobbler is wrong by two kilometers: it thinks OX1 4AW is on Abingdon Road, two kilometers away. Writing the code as OX14AW produced 20 results, all 20 of them wrong. Searching for zip codes in The Netherlands (1090 GC, 1090GC) doesn't work at all. Skobbler can't handle portuguese zip codes like 1100-060 (1100 060, 1100060) either. It looks like skobbler only knows how to find simple 4- and 5 digit codes, which makes the fastest way of searching for places unavailable in a very large number of countries.

8) Addresses in the Symbian S60 address book usually have street names and house numbers in the same field. Skobbler can't handle this, so using the addresses from my contacts list in skobbler always fails. Given the number of Symbian S60 phones out there you'll definitely have to teach skobbler how to deal with this issue.

Good luck!