Routebuddy icon RouteBuddy, a new Mac GPS and mapping application, was announced today (Cartotalk; GPS Review; MacNN; MacWorld; Ogle Earth). It’s a bit of an enigma: at first I wasn’t sure what problem it was trying to solve. After all, there are other GPS apps for the Mac, and it’s hard to see the need to buy a $100 application that uses TeleAtlas-derived maps that must be purchased separately (priced at $40-70 per bundle) when similar maps are available through the online map services — for free. Also, it doesn’t give directions, so, apart from its GPS compatibility, it actually has less functionality than many free alternatives.

But Stefan points out that its real use seems to be on the road — or in the air or on a bicycle, from the looks of the app’s icon (at right) — where a lack of Internet access means you can’t use Google Earth or Google Maps. So, for example, an in-dash Mac mini, or a MacBook. (But I wish its intended purpose was more obvious: RouteBuddy’s site just isn’t written all that clearly; vague marketing-speak makes me nervous.) If that’s the case, though, this program will have a hard time finding its niche, because this pricey app will be going up against mobile phone services, WiFi hotspots and wireless data plans.

Not a Universal Binary, which is puzzling: it’s been 13 months since the switch to Intel was announced, so a new Mac app has no business being anything but. An Intel version is promised (as is a routing feature), and the current release will run under Rosetta.