Navigation apps made illegal

The growing popularity of satellite navigation iPhone apps may be stifled by new laws in Victoria (Australia) which prevent mobile phones from doubling as navigation devices.

Apps developed by travel software makers TomTom, Navigon and Sygic will be affected by the new rules, as well as Nokia phones using the Ovi Maps application and Telstra phones using the Whereis Navigator services.

VicRoads, the Victorian roads and traffic authority, told The Age that under the new laws mobile phones cannot be used as a satellite navigation gadget.

“A phone will only be allowed to be used for its primary purpose,” the spokesperson said. “If it’s a phone, it’s a phone.”

The new laws come as the long-anticipated TomTom application was released for the iPhone last month. However, Australian marketing manager Chris Kearney told The Age that the new laws will not threaten the software’s popularity.

“What we are seeing just reinforces our safety message around [the fact that] you must use a mounted device [the car kit] in a car and not interact with the device while you are driving,” he said. “Essentially, it’s about using the device in a correct manner.”

Telstra also said it is preparing to cooperate with the new laws.