More details have emerged concerning the apparent end of support for Wayfinder Access, the GPS software package for Symbian-based phones.
Neil Barnfather of TalkNav, the largest dealer for the software, posted this note on the Access mailing list about the current status of the product.
Dear All, I had hoped to have more definitive information for you before having to make a statement about this. My information is as follows: Wayfinder have indeed terminated the Access application in terms of future development, TalkNav had hoped to purchase the application in order that it be further developed as a TalkNav GPS product under our control. Unfortunately this was rather suddenly and inexplicitly dropped at Way finder’s end. This was quite a shock to us all at TalkNav as we were quite extensively through negotiations and were but days away from signing a contract. We have no official word from Vodafone nor Wayfinder as to why they would have chosen not to allow our acquisition of the product, however since that is what they have chosen to do we have no further course of action available to us. Existing customers we are assured will continue to receive full service and support from Wayfinder, the licenses that you have are fully valid and Wayfinder have informed us that they will honour the terms to which these licenses were sold. In terms of future sales, the product is officially no longer being developed, however, we and no doubt other dealers have stock licenses available. Wayfinder are allowing these to be sold at this time, and under the above clause that they’ll not terminate support or service, you can be assured of use from your Access purchase. You may ask why buy something that isn’t being developed any further, it’s a good question. For me I’d look at the alternatives, sure they maybe being onwards developed, however, Access still to date remains the cheapest blind accessible GPS product, and with Wayfinder assuring ongoing support / service, you can be assured that your product will last for a good while yet. Sure Access has some problems, but given the alternatives and their costs, the point is it’s still to me a worthy consideration. What of course is obvious is that once the remaining stock licenses are gone, that as they say is that. They’ll be no further way of purchasing Access licenses. We are advised that we can offer up the following e-mail address to users for those who require more information, however, please note that they’ve not been able to tell us anything more, thus it’s likely that they won’t answer your questions along the above bases in any further detail. By all means though, if you wish please do try. Support.firstname.lastname@example.org Kind regards. TalkNavCategory: Software
Although a couple of minor features are missing, the cheapest options are on the iPhone. The cheapest with turn by turn directions is VoxTrek for $2 and the most expensive is Navigon Mobile Navigator, for around $90.
darknexus Tuesday, 12-Jan-2010 06:33 AM ET:
The cheapest blind-accessible GPS? Nope, not anymore. That would be Navigon MobileNavigator for iPhone, and Navigon doesn't require you to have data to plan routes so is more useful in areas with iffy cel service. Obviously it assumes you have an iPhone first, but Wayfinder needs a Symbian phone first in any case and a screen reader on top of that to take full advantage of it.
icedearth Tuesday, 12-Jan-2010 10:30 AM ET:
While the previous comment is perhaps true, I feel that it is misleading. Whereas Navigon MobileNavigator for iPhone may be the cheapest paid accessible GPS solution, and not require data to plan roots, the cost that one pays for the required iPhone data package is more than that required by Wayfinder Access. Also if one were to sign a contract to purchase the iPhone, the price that they would pay in a two year span for iPhone data + taxes would be enough to purchase Mobile Geo, one of the best accessible GPS solutions available on the market today.
darknexus Tuesday, 12-Jan-2010 11:11 AM ET:
You never avoid paying extra when dealing with a GPS on a phone. Whether it's for a data plan (Wayfinder Access) or the iPhone/AT&T combination, or the phone plus the cost of Mobile Geo, either way you pay more than just for a gps. I also think you are looking at the iPhone issue from the wrong perspective. AT&T is expensive in the US, I do not deny this, but AT&T is not the carrier worldwide. Further, a little cost analysis shows that, even with AT&T, the cost of a phone plus wayfinder plus talks or mobile speak, and keeping talks or mobile speak upgraded, can end up quickly overshooting what the expected cost might be. Throw Mobile Geo into the mix and the ridiculous prices Sendero/CF want for upgrades, and that option isn't as economical as it might first appear, given that you have to have a screen reader (mobile speak) added to a Windows Mobile device to take full advantage of it. As with all things, one has to weigh the costs of their options. The issue ends up, as it so often does in the blindness community, being expensive upgrade costs. Depending on the upgrades that come out and how much you have to pay for them, the AT&T iPhone contract just might end up being less in the long term. No matter which option you choose, you gain some things and lose others. At least with Navigon I don't get penalized for being blind and I know exactly what I will need to pay.
Ozone Baby Tuesday, 12-Jan-2010 3:04 PM ET:
This does not surprise me one bit! We haven't seen an update to WFA since 2.5. I convinced myself to buy WFA and now I see my hard earned money go down the tubes! The product wasn't that great any how since the Nokia screen saver always cut off WFA announcements! Very dangerous to have to handle the phone in order to get the latest WFA report! Another kick in the !@@ to the blind consumer! Way to go Way Finder & Google! Mind you, Google might just make this a worthy product in the end! Ozone!
darknexus Wednesday, 13-Jan-2010 10:07 AM ET:
@Ozone: Maybe I missed something, but what does Google have to do with this? It was Vodafone who bought out Wayfinder, not Google.
VRein Wednesday, 13-Jan-2010 1:55 PM ET:
I read somewhere that Navigon's MobileNavigator is workable with talks and mobile speak. There is a version that is available for symbian and it should work, but is there anyway we can confirm accessibility with Talks and mobile speak? If it is true, then I'd much rather pay for this version rather get an iphone because Navigon has real tts that anounces street names...
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.