Weekly Brief: Banner week for nav apps headlined by Uber TomTom wedlock

In this week’s Brief: TomTom, Volkswagen of America, Apple, Uber, Daimler, Audi, BMW, Nokia HERE, Google Maps, Continental, eHorizon, SAP, EasyPark, ParkCloud, OPG Center-Parking, LUMINA, Four Seasons Residences, GM, Ritz Plaza, AAA and Apple Watch.

TomTomshould book a ticket for Vegas. The Dutch mapmaker is riding a major hot streak of late; new agreements include Volkswagen of America, Apple and – as of last week – Uber. Financial details of the latest deal were not disclosed but TomTom says that it will provide mapping, traffic and location data for the Uber Driving App in more than 300 cities around the world. TomTom’s stocks surged 8.2% the day the news broke.

Uber is a winner here too. The ridesharing app is under pressure to provide the best mapping and navigation experience for its drivers, thus making their experience more efficient and remunerative than if they were to drive for one of Uber’s competitors. Uber lost out to the German consortium of Daimler, Audi andBMW on a bid for Nokia HERE earlier this year, although some believe that Uber’s bid was just a gambit to put pressure on TomTom at the negotiating table.

It was a big week for Google Maps as well, as it took its turn-by-turn navigation system offline. Drivers who want to navigate areas where WiFi is patchy or non-existent can now go to this site and download a map of the area in advance. When WiFi drops, Google Maps will continue to work. Drivers will also be able to search for specific destinations and find useful info about places, like hours of operation, contacts and ratings, with or without data, WiFi or Internet connection.

In other news, Continental revealed that it’s testing a new technology, dubbed dynamic eHorizon, that uses data gathered from vehicles to generate extremely accurate, up-to-date, and reliable information about the road network. The goal is to use this so-called “swarm intelligence” to continuously inform cars when their advanced driver assistance systems may be necessary – or when fully self-driving capabilities may be safe to deploy. No word on when the technology will be deployed.

Analytics software specialist SAP launched its Vehicles Network in Europe with the aim of making it easy for carmakers to integrate pay-at-the-pump capabilities and parking services into their in-dash offerings – from search and discovery to transactions to payments. SAP has already hashed out agreements with parking providersEasyPark, ParkCloud and OPG Center-Parking. The service is initially available wherever these providers offer parking services across Europe.

The latest car-sharing trend: luxury condominiums. Audi launched a tiny car-sharing initiative with private luxury condos in San Francisco (LUMINA) and Miami (Four Seasons Residences). Residents reserve vehicles through an app or their concierge and then go – on short jaunts in the city, where parking is free at designated lots, or bigger expeditions to the countryside. Back in October GM launched a similar Let’s Drive NYC with the Ritz Plaza apartment building in Manhattan (video here).  

AAAlaunched its AAA Mobile app for the Apple Watch. Functionality at this point is limited to searching for the closest and cheapest fuel. That’s a far cry from the AAA iPhone app, which allows users to request roadside assistance, plan trips, book hotels and receive member discounts but it’s a start.

Finally, sick of getting stuck in the slower lane in a traffic jam? Nokia HERE just added Split Lane Traffic (SLT) reporting to its list of features on its navigation app. SLT harnesses advanced algorithms to detect divergent speeds and report traffic conditions on a multiple lane level before a junction. That means drivers will now get a lane-by-lane breakdown of traffic speeds, rather than the obscure speed averages across all lanes that leave one driver to sit at red lights while the other lane goes streaming by.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU-Automotive analysis with information from industry publications.

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