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Airtel launches SmartDrive app, to provide navigation & real-time traffic info

Telecom operator Airtel has launched an app that provides its subscribers with voice-based turn-by-turn navigation as well as real time information on traffic situation on roads around them. Users can view their location on a map and plan their route from one place to another. The app also suggests alternate routes, if there is heavy traffic on the normal route.

The telco claims that it is the first operator in the country to provide such an offering.

For downloading the SmartDrive app, Airtel subscribers can visit www.airtel.in/smartdrive from their mobile phones or alternatively they can SMS 'smart' to 54321 and then click on the link in the received message.

Search maps for points of interest (POI): Allows its users to search maps for point of interests that are grouped into categories like restaurants, theatres and shopping malls.

Once the application is downloaded, this feature can be used free of cost.

Turn by turn voice navigation: In addition to giving turn by turn voice directions, the app also provides approximate time of the journey on the basis of the traffic on various routes.

Live traffic information: The app calculates the traffic on the basis of the number of GPS devices being used on that particular road, their average speed as well as the historical trends of traffic. As of now, the service is only live in Delhi and NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore, but the company claims that Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune will be added to the list by December.

The traffic status is provided in a color-coded format where red implies heavy traffic, yellow means medium traffic and green means free flow of traffic.

It also offers additional features like the trip recorder, which records all trips (you make when using voice navigation) for later reference and Wikipedia information of places (for which information is available) apart from allowing the user to add frequently visited locations to favorites and providing weather information.

While search and map viewer are free offerings, users will have to pay Rest 10 (for daily pack) and Rest 99 (for monthly pack) for navigation and Rest 3 (daily) and Rest 49 (monthly) for live traffic. As of now, data browsing is free, but post November 30, normal data usage charges will apply as per the data pack availed by the customer.

The app is powered by mobile navigation solutions provider Wise pilot and is already available on the Android, Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows platforms. The company says an is version will be launched soon.

Apart from Airtel's offering, smartphone users can already use other navigational solutions that include Google's own navigation offerings for Android and Nokia's Nokia maps, among other third-party apps. Even Apple is launching its own maps app in iOS6 (that will replace Google maps) that will come with turn-by-turn directions.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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