On the State of iPhone Turn-By-Turn GPS, Including Magellan | iLounge Backstage

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On the State of iPhone Turn-By-Turn GPS, Including Magellan

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Wednesday, December 2, 2009
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The experiment has had six months to run its course. A year and a half ago, Apple added GPS hardware to the iPhone 3G, but left out the most obvious piece of software people were expecting: turn-by-turn guided maps. Then, in announcing the iPhone 3GS back in June, Apple helped TomTom debut the first of what would eventually become a large number of third-party turn-by-turn GPS solutions for the iPhone—in essence, programs that bypassed the device’s integrated Google Maps in favor of their own map and points of interest databases, adding realtime voice guidance, more or less accurate current position tracking, and automatic recalculation ability for missed or ignored turns. TomTom would eventually release its software in region-specific versions ranging from $50 to $140, provoking cries of “ripoff” from many users, but purchases from others. And in any case, numerous competitors soon followed: CoPilot Live, Navigon MobileNavigator, MotionX, and Magellan all have highly similar applications on the market with various pricing schemes and differentiating features. AT&T even got in on the action with a monthly subscription version that charges $10 per month directly to the user’s phone bill.

Our simple question for you, dear reader, is this: do you care?

We’re really on the fine edge of not caring any more. The high prices of most of these apps, combined with their very significant impact on the iPhone’s already unimpressive battery life, has led us to reluctantly conclude that iPhones are not going to be worthwhile turn-by-turn navigation devices until Apple makes significant improvements to the devices’ hardware and integrated mapping software. Better battery life? An enhanced Maps application with automated turn-by-turn and voice guidance features built in? Sign us up. But $80 or $100 for an app and then $100 or more for an in-car GPS cradle? For that sort of money, buying a dedicated portable GPS unit just makes more sense—you avoid the impact on the iPhone’s battery, get a larger screen, and don’t have to give up access to your other apps in the car while the GPS functionality is being used. (If you’re a passenger, of course.)

Most likely because these companies are still trying to feel out the potential market for their products, the iPhone navigation apps keep on coming out, anyway. The latest to arrive for testing is Magellan’s RoadMate 2010, which is currently available at an $80 price—supposedly a discount from its $100 normal price. As the screenshots here indicate, we’ve been testing it, and thus far, it feels more or less the same as the other apps out there, plus a slightly better speech system, a more limited collection of features, and a less locally comprehensive POI database. But, as we’ve learned, that might or might not change a month from now. Competing products have already gone through update after update, generally requiring time-consuming downloads and installation of huge 1+ Gigabyte applications, but also adding all sorts of features to the initial releases. The pace at which these apps are changing, generally for the better, is surprising—it’s obvious that companies are feeling compelled to keep improving their software, and that’s a good thing. Yet it’s obvious that these apps are only appealing to a small niche of iPhone owners. TomTom’s app is currently #2 on the App Store’s top grossing chart, but not even in the top 100 current sellers, a sign that TomTom is making a lot per download but not reaching anywhere near the number of people as, say, EA’s Monopoly. Cheaper apps are gathering significantly more traction than expensive ones.

So that’s why we’re asking today what you think. Do you want us to continue to make the effort to offer detailed reviews of these GPS applications and their car cradles, or do you feel that this particular genre of apps is generally just overpriced or ill-suited to iPhones as they currently stand, and thus additional coverage would only be a waste of our and your time? We’re really interested in your views, so please post them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Comments

1

Yes, please post your review of these GPS apps, mainly TomTom, Navigon, and Magellan and do a good comparison.

Even though the iPhone’s battery suck, there were many instances where I used my Navigon to guide me throughout the city. And I don’t need to use it the whole way either. For example, if I want to go home and I don’t know how to get on a freeway, I’ll just let it guide me to the freeway and then I’ll exit the program to save battery. And besides, a car charger easily solves the battery issue.

Price-wise I think they are very reasonable. It is still somewhat cheaper than stand-alone GPS units. If you consider Apple not taking the 30% fee, these GPS apps could easily sell at $30-50 price points. I would much rather prefer a GPS app on my iPhone than a stand-alone, since I travel alot and don’t want to carry another device with me.

But in the end, I think people are still into GPS apps. You can’t expect them to outsell $0.99 games, that’s just not happening. Besides, people with iPod Touches can’t use these GPS apps, so it’s catered to a smaller audience than say, Monopoly. So I hope these couple points could persuade iLounge to continue to write reviews about these GPS apps.

Posted by aluren on December 2, 2009 at 10:47 AM (PDT)

2

Why is battery life any concern at all here?  Everybody running any GPS device would plug it into a power source while using it in a car.

Posted by Fluffy32 on December 2, 2009 at 10:48 AM (PDT)

3

yes…please post a detailed review.  I have an iPod touch and all of these vendors now support a cradle with the GPS antenna.  I would be very interested to know which one performs better.

I have been considering getting a care unit (upgrading from a handheld), so this is just what I am looking for.

Posted by Scott on December 2, 2009 at 11:02 AM (PDT)

4

For local driving, the battery limitations just aren’t. For longer drives I always use the cigarette lighter as a power souce. For adequate sound, I plug into the audio line. No problems on this count.

To answer your question:
Yes, please continue your reviews of the newer entries to the GPS field, as well as their significant upgrades. And, you are correct about those extremely long upgrades. Your review of an upgrade might include a statement such as, “If you find the current database of POIs adequate for your needs, there is little need for this upgrade.”

Posted by Lynn Davison on December 2, 2009 at 11:11 AM (PDT)

5

With dedicated GPS units costing much less now then they did a year or even 6 months ago, I find that I don’t want to spend the large amount of money for these apps.  Added to the fact that I use my iPhone for it’s music capabilities (iPod function) and don’t want to deal with the switiching and interruption of my music flow. The fact that my GPS stays in my vehicle all the time is also another factor; it’s a dedicated unit and stays right where it was meant to be and I never have to move, adjust, or mess with it (or buy extra parts such as a cradle or window suction holder).
Just doing a small review of the good and bad or comparisons of them would be helpful for those that don’t already have a dedicated unit, but you definitely don’t need to go into great detail about these.

Posted by Eat A Peach on December 2, 2009 at 11:11 AM (PDT)

6

Yes, please.  The more expensive the app, the more important it is to have a reliable, trusted source for unbiased objective reviews.  For less than $3 or $5 I’m generally willing to take a risk on any piece of software, figuring it’s a small loss if the app is no good.  But these apps are far too expensive for casual purchasing.

BTW, if you’re a multi-iPhone, multi-vehicle family, these apps become a much better value proposition since you can buy the app once but use it on all your iPhones.

Posted by Dyvim on December 2, 2009 at 11:14 AM (PDT)

7

Yes, detailed reviews!  But they need to be kept up-to-date or they are less useful.  When updates are released, update the original review (instead of writing a new one).

Posted by CHris on December 2, 2009 at 11:20 AM (PDT)

8

One big problem with posing the question of should we continue to write about GPS apps within a post on GPS apps, only people who are interested are even reading.
I agree that at the current price point for the apps, it makes more sense to by a GPS unit than any of these apps.

Posted by Mike on December 2, 2009 at 11:30 AM (PDT)

9

Maybe the best way to do this would be to review these together so that you can compare and contrast the features that are similar or different. These apps definitely need to be reviewed. At the price that is being charged for turn-by-turn apps, it’s important for the consumer to make as informed decision as possible.

As for the limitatations of the iPhone, you can hardly blame the app’s creator or the consumer. Sure they don’t work as well as standalone units, but the question is do they work well enough for the convenience of being able to carry them around in your pocket? I can’t vouch for any other, but the a swer for Navigon is a resounding ‘yes.’

The other thing that needs to be considered here is that I, as an App Store consumer, come to iLounge for (among other things) reviews of apps worth my time and money. Furthermore, app’s makers depend on sites like iLounge for publicity. By not reviewing apps that have taken a lot of time and effort due to inherent shortfalls of the platform and not the app itself, you’re doing a disservice iLounge readers.

The Navigon app is one of my most-used apps. It’s ridiculously useful, extremely well designed and frequently updated with major new features. What more could you ask for from a developer?

Posted by JW008 on December 2, 2009 at 11:34 AM (PDT)

10

I purchased the Navigon GPS app on my iPhone not so much for use in my own car, but more for when I’m travelling with someone else who does not have GPS, or with taxi driver who just arrived on U.S. soil a month ago. The price is high for that kind of use, but I’m curious about new apps on the iPhone, and it was worthwhile for me to try it.

So far I’m very happy with the Navigon app. I use Garmin in my car (an older model) but I realize Garmin is not coming to the iPhone platform, since they have one of their own. The Navigon app is so easy to use that I’ve had no trouble adapting to a different interface than the one I’m used to.

Battery Life: I tend to use the app on the iPhone for short, but complex, trips, so it hasn’t been a problem. If I knew I’d be using it in someone’s car for a long trip, I hope I’d bring a car plug-in cable. If not, my strategy might be to let it guide us through turns that are close together, and shut it off for long stretches. As we got near the end of a long stretch, I’d turn it back on and let it resume navigating.

Interface: Every bit as good as the latest dedicated GPS receivers for cars. The Navigon is very easy to use and very accurate.

Updates: Navigon seems to be good about adding functionality to the app and getting updates out. I’m confident that they’ll keep up with the competition.

Reception: The iPhone’s GPS receiver doesn’t seem to hang on to a signal like some of the newer dedicated units. The signal comes and goes in concrete canyons sometimes. That’s frustrating. That’s not the fault of the app, though. It’s at least as good as my old pre-SiRF Star III Garmin units, though.

Price: I paid $70 for the Navigon app, just before Thanksgiving 2009. That price made it more appealing. Considering what the software does, and that it’s so much like the dedicated units, but without the hardware, I think it’s a fair price.

What improvements would I want? Better POI Find. The app lets you get a list of say, restaurants, near your location, but doesn’t make it easy to just search the POI database. I’d like some pedestrian/hiker oriented functionality, like some of what a Garmin hand-held unit does (look it up on the web), but I’m not expecting much of that.

Conclusion: I’m very happy with the Navigon app on the iPhone. I think the price is reasonable. It could be my only in-car GPS, as long as it’s plugged in for power, but it won’t be, because I want use of my phone. I’m happy to have both this app and my dedicated in-car GPS unit.

Posted by Manatee on December 2, 2009 at 11:37 AM (PDT)

11

Also need to mention how each GPS app works on different hardware.  My personal experience is that Navigon works well on iPhone 3GS, but poorly on the iPhone 3G.  On the iPhone 3G for the most part it announces upcoming turns too late (some times after you passed the intersection).  I believe this is a function of the lower processor speed and memory on the 3G.

Posted by Dyvim on December 2, 2009 at 11:45 AM (PDT)

12

So far the GPS solutions are trying to overlay dedicated GPS solutions onto the iPhone. That is a sad, insufficient use of resources. Google on the iPhone already set the bar for what is expected from a GPS device with many of its features. Not to mention I can get information on the location I am routing to and call ahead and make/change reservations, etc., all from the map app. In any GPS solution on the iphone I cannot get any other information internally other than the route to get there.

Battery life is a non-issue if one is already used to dedicated GPS devices. It is called the cigarette lighter. The iPhone does no less than any other GPS device. And to me that is the real problem. It can and should do more, at least software-wise.

I hate, but understand, that Google went with GPS turn-by-turn on the Android platform first. Personally, I will wait on Google TbT for iphone and not waste another dime on any GPS app currently available. They are already obsolete and are threatened with “Word Perfect” or “Lotus”-ism. They are slow to launch, slow/awkward to input, slow to route, and forget about it when they crash (and they will crash). Go eat lunch while they reboot, and chances are you will have to reboot your iphone, too.

I’ve stopped using them all as much as this was one of the primary purposes and features I wanted in my iPhone. I was EAGER to spend as much money as they could have asked. All the GPS companies had a real chance and enough time to be leaders in this area on the iPhone. They dropped the ball. Good riddance.

Joe

Posted by Joseph Futral on December 2, 2009 at 11:48 AM (PDT)

13

Well, over here in Germany the iPhone apps of Navigon and TomTom are still a huge success and the new cheap Skobbler is #1. BTW you description is wrong, because Navigon was released (at least in Europe) months before TomTom was available - in fact TomTom was one of the last big names to appear in the store.

Personally I think the combination of the 3GS, Navigon Navigator Europe and the TomTom GPS cradle is just perfect. The functionality of the Navigon equals the most expansive versions of their stand-alone products incl. live traffic jam warnings - and the new version (submitted, but not yet approved by Apple) even adds internal Google search and a special mode for pedestrians incl. usage of the 3GS compass. I prefer to take such devices with me, so a build-in device is not an option for me. Of course the battery issue is not really an issue: Who would be so stupid to NOT connect the device to the charger in the car while using it?

Maybe the perspective is different here in Europe. As all of the countries are quite small you are leaving the boundaries of your home country very fast. But because of unbelievable high roaming costs Internet usage via 3G is not an option in other countries. Therefore an offline solution for navigation is very important and Navigon Navigator is just brilliant for this.

Posted by gewappnet on December 2, 2009 at 11:55 AM (PDT)

14

I agree with poster #2 who said why care about battery life? When you use it as a GPS device in the car, plug the darn thing into the cigarette lighter!

And, don’t forget this: a dedicated GPS when run on batteries only can last for about 4 hours. My roommate recently got a new Garmin GPS and he tells me the rated battery life is 4 hours on a full charge. That’s it! And don’t forget the iPhone is a slimmer device than most GPS. So, forget the battery issue. It’s a nonissue.

Posted by sykes on December 2, 2009 at 11:56 AM (PDT)

15

Yes, please keep reviewing.  Why would battery life be an issue? Doesn’t everyone who would consider using the Iphone as a GPS already have a car charger?

My only complaint is the lack of being able to run background apps.

Posted by Par Forister on December 2, 2009 at 11:59 AM (PDT)

16

Can someone tell me why iGo is never mentioned in any reviews of iPhone GPS apps? I find it to be one of the best of the lot, but no-one else seems to have heard of it…

Posted by Darren Aitcheson on December 2, 2009 at 12:16 PM (PDT)

17

Please do the review. I’m currently looking at standalone GPS units vs. mounts for my iPod Touch vs getting an iPhone, and this would be very helpful.

Posted by Chris on December 2, 2009 at 12:24 PM (PDT)

18

Regarding battery life, there seems to be an assumption that everyone has a car charger, but that’s not really true, particularly given that 50% of iPod buyers these days are new to the platform and an even greater percentage of iPhone buyers are likely in the same camp. Yes, a car charger is a simple solution, but it comes at a cost.

The collective ancillary costs of a car charger, mount, and audio-out solution are non-trivial; the least expensive accessories with all three features retail for around $50, and may not get the iPhone’s screen at eye level so that you can actually see the maps. A windshield- or vent-based mounting solution plus a charger with audio out again winds up in the $50-$60 range. If you’re willing to forego mounting (and rely on voice only), give up audio through your car’s speakers (and rely on the iPhone’s integrated speaker), or forget charging, you can obviously save some money. If you want all of the above plus additional GPS antenna hardware, the cost goes up a lot.

Our operating premise for GPS products is to assume (a) safe usage, and (b) that the driver sits in the car without another person there to hold the device or interact with the app. Safe and practical usage in our view entails a mount and a car charging solution at a bare minimum, either or both of which some users may not have.

Another quick note: four-hour battery life for a standalone GPS isn’t really comparable to four-hour (or less) battery life for an iPhone running GPS software. When a standalone GPS unit’s battery dies, you lose GPS. When your iPhone’s battery dies, you lose your phone, Internet access, your GPS, camera, and so on. Another way of looking at this is that you typically start using your iPhone for GPS with the battery already partially depleted from using its other features, and when you’re done mapping—without a charger—you’re in trouble. With a standalone GPS, there’s little to no competition for its battery—it’s either getting used for GPS, or not.

#13: The word used was “debuted,” not released. Apple used the event in June to show off TomTom and set the stage for others to release products with or after iPhone 3.0 was in the wild.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on December 2, 2009 at 12:45 PM (PDT)

19

Please continue to cover the GPS stuff in detail. I’ve reluctantly accepted that right now, iPhone-based turn-by-turn GPS doesn’t come out well, especially in terms of cost-benefit, when compared with dedicated GPS units. However, I still hold out hope that the situation will improve, perhaps in the not-too-distant future. And like a number of the other posters, the ability to have turn-by-turn GPS without having to deal with another gizmo is worth something to me.

(With respect to battery life, don’t dedicated GPS units need to be plugged into the cigarette lighter on long trips?)

Posted by orgel in Falls Church, VA on December 2, 2009 at 1:22 PM (PDT)

20

I’m only interested in cheap backup/emergency alternatives to my Garmin. It would be nice to have turn-by-turn on my iPhone in case I needed it, but I’m not going to pay more than $20. The one time I was truly lost, I was able to glance at the iPhone map and figure it out, so it’s not that much of a value add to have the phone “tell me” to turn left.

Posted by Aceon6 in New England, USA on December 2, 2009 at 1:27 PM (PDT)

21

I am not touching these expensive apps until there are more solid facts as to whether the free google GPS app will make its way to the iPhone. If it does, and it remains free, then I really think these apps will have little practical use.

Posted by Jonathan Hoffman on December 2, 2009 at 1:28 PM (PDT)

22

Well guess I’m the odd ball…

Bought G-Map when it first came out.  Nothing like it was available.  Then several other GPS apps came out and G-Map was quickly outclassed.  Ended up going with Navigon and have been totally happy with it!  Lots of updates and they have pretty much been staying at the top of the pack.  Now for the car adapter…  Purchased and returned pretty much every car adapter out there and also tried some Bluetooth speakers.  I ended up dropping the $$ on the TomTom for several reasons.  Charger, bluetooth speaker, GPS enhancement.  For me the cost was worth it.  I now have another tool (vs. toy) that meets my needs.  Yes I could have bought a stand alone GPS for the same price but I didn’t want another piece of electronics to cart around.  This was one of the reasons I bought an iPhone in the 1st place, and then replaced it with a 3GS soon after it was out because I was maxing out my 3G (plus my wife was happy to get a nice smartphone).  So does this logic work for all? Obviously not but it did for me.  As far as the folks whining about price iPhone apps are a drop in the bucket compared to some other platforms and software you buy for your desktop/notebooks.  And for the folks waiting for free GPS software, good luck when you have a slow or no data signal.  Again those options might work for some folks but not me.  I’ve got my iPhone set in and out of the car tweaked and it works GREAT for me.

Posted by KMFA on December 2, 2009 at 2:45 PM (PDT)

23

Yes please, keep the reviews coming. And if possible, it would be great to have reviews for hardware including Tom Tom and Magellan car kits, which reportedly work with different branded software, and bring the original iPhone and iPod Touch into the picture.

Agree with other posters who said that:
-battery life is not an issue; it should go without saying that if you’re using GPS functionality on the iPhone, you had better have it plugged in or not use it for very long.
-these apps have a much better value proposition for multi-car/multi-iPhone households; I myself am considering making an old original 4GB iPhone not currently in use a dedicated GPS unit in combination with a car kit.
-Yes, you can buy a standalone for cheap now. But a lot of people don’t want yet one more gadget. Add to that the fact that the iPhone is a connected device, and many of the Navigation app manufacturers will start to take advantage of that (Navigon already has, with its upcoming update taking advantage of Google augmentation of POI).

I needed something, so I went ahead and got the Tom Tom app after it went on sale for Black Friday. So far, it’s been fine. But finding current info to make my purchase was laborious. iLounge can make a real contribution here. Add to that the fact that the marketplace is about to get much more interesting with Google’s entrance.

Focusing on hardware/software combos would be great. For example.

Posted by Sterling Zumbrunn on December 2, 2009 at 3:19 PM (PDT)

24

I’m interested in battery life for when I use the device for navigation as a pedestrian in a strange city. Purchased Navigon Europe for this purpose and found it worthless (too difficult to get a GPS lock, too slow to update (on a 3GS), and too inaccurate to provide adequate good walking directions) even though the use of the US version in the car was quite acceptable.

Posted by WDP0303 on December 2, 2009 at 3:37 PM (PDT)

25

My Garmin was stolen and so I was faced with the dilemma of buying a new one or trying one of the GPS apps on the iPhone. I went with the Navigon program and couldn’t be happier. It does what I need. And since it is on my iPhone, I know I will take it with me at all times (so it won’t get stolen out of my car).

The battery life issue you mention is really not an issue — you plug it in while you are driving. As you can see from your readers, the majority do.

In some ways, it works better than my Garmin ever did (I would wait sometimes 7-8 minutes for it to find satellites). With the iPhone it starts almost instantly.

The only issue for me is dealing with phone calls while I’m navigating, but that is all.

Posted by A Linecker on December 2, 2009 at 3:44 PM (PDT)

26

Yes, please keep the reviews coming: 

1) No one does them better or more independently than you.
2) I always put a power cord on my phone in my vehicle…batter seems mainly an issue for use as a pedestrian or on a bike or something.
3) My hubby is a visually-impaired iphone 3GS user…please also include voice-over compatibility in the reviews…he can use his iphone far more easily than his computer and navigation is a critical app for the visually impaired.
4) I have not yet used the nav apps, but am buying one this week so that I can reduce my travel load by another device and power cord.
5) My garmin battery life best-ever was 4 hours…now more like 2.

Posted by Largosmom on December 2, 2009 at 4:30 PM (PDT)

27

Yes, need side by side check list comparisons.

Posted by W Harvey on December 2, 2009 at 5:08 PM (PDT)

28

Yes, please keep reviewing GPS apps. Just bought Magellan Roadmate 2010 app and it is riddled with bugs.  Not ready for prime time.

Posted by FBOL on December 2, 2009 at 5:57 PM (PDT)

29

I also hope that you will continue to provide reviews for the various GPS applications. Most of the time the iLounge comparison review is the only thorough review that will come out and state an opinion about what is really best; many other sites will say “if you (a), then (b) may be your best choice. If you care about (c), then (d) might be the better option.” Weasel words, useless advice.

To add to the requests above, I would love to see you continue to inject intelligent dicussion of what iPhone-based GPS applications can do differently than stand-alone GPS devices, and highlight which applications take best advantage of the iPhone platform. The most obvious example of this is being able to route to an address from your contacts database. The TomTom GPS application does this reasonably well, as I’m sure do (most? all? of) the others.

Apple’s Touch Platform, with Internet connectivity, contact database, iPod functionality, etc., is a vastly more capable platform than most dedicated GPS devices (even if the iPhone GPS is less accurate, and drains the battery), but so far, many GPS apps feel like they are mostly ports of existing device software. (Not necessarily in interface, but certainly in features.) This is where the GPS applications have the opportunity to excede and delight, and I’d like to know as much about these aspects of the various options. iLounge does a great job of thoughtfully examining and thinking through the possibilities for improvement, more than any other reviews I read, and this applies to much more than just GPS apps. Keep it up!

Posted by Alderete on December 2, 2009 at 6:07 PM (PDT)

30

I have no need for one of these GPS apps on my iPhone.  Mainly because I was lucky enough to get a sweet deal on a car that already had a built in GPS system.  I’ve seen the GPS apps run on other people’s iPhones and they all look sluggish and they put your phone out of use.  I use google maps all the time navigating for friends riding shotgun and that works great.  I got X-Road GPS just to have preloaded maps on my iPhone in case I’m out of service area.  I can’t see me ever purchasing an app like this for my iPhone.  They are nearly as expensive as many GPS units anyway.  TomTom must be insane to think anyone is going to buy their cradle and then the app for nearly $200 when you could just get probably one of a dozen GPS units for $150 or less, some even from TomTom.

Posted by sting7k on December 2, 2009 at 7:00 PM (PDT)

31

Please continue the detail reviews, as prices of these apps tend to be the highest amongst apps in the App Store, the more detail and information we get before making purchases would be very valuable.

My experience in using these navigation apps tend to be positive, mainly because of how I use the application. I generally use it in conjunction with my car charger/FM transmitter, so the battery issue is not a problem for me. I have a Nyko iPod/iPhone holder in my car, so I don’t need to buy the expensive cradle, and the GPS reception is generally good in Australia. And I generally wouldn’t be using the Phone whilst driving most of the time, so the no-access to other apps on the phone are also not a problem for me. But other users might have a different experience depending on their usage.

Posted by Simon on December 2, 2009 at 7:14 PM (PDT)

32

I use Navagon MobileNavigator frequently, as needed.  I would love more reviews, comparisons, and updates on all things iPhone, particularly GPS related.  My Navagon stays locked on to the gps signal even when it merely sits on the passenger seat.  I assume it maintains its position lock with cell tower triangulation, compass readings, and gps signals that leak into the car.  I used to lose signal sync with my Pocket PC gps even when it was mounted on the windshield.

I have a 300 W inverter under the passenger seat so power is not a problem.

My biggest issue with any kind of gps is that it has to be hand controlled without looking at the screen almost ever.  I have a windshield mount but I don’t use it because it is too dangerous.  One bump on the freeway and it could take years of problems to resolve.  Set the device and get all future suggestions either through the radio speakers, or pull off the road and do the full map, route thing safely.

Posted by jeffskent on December 2, 2009 at 8:00 PM (PDT)

33

Please continue reviewing them.

I purchased several of them such as G-Map for NA, co-Pilot and some less expensive one’s such as Navicat. I have an iPhone 3GS and 3G and a holder, which I really like. Sound gets routed to the car stereo and the iPhone is charged via a connection which is integrated with the car. G-Map operates really well that way.

Recently, I just bought a Garmin dedicated GPS (255w) for about the same price as the TomTom software. It’s widescreen and reliable. That is probably what I will use. The iPhone apps have simply had poor maps for Canada (though G-Map is excellent) and are unrealistically priced. I find the dedicated GPS units to be more reliable and I trust them more. It should not have ended up that way. The final straw was the purchase of co-Pilot. I had high hopes for GPS on the iPhone. I think I’ll wait for a more integrated solution which is easy to use.For now I have given up on that route.

Incidentally, I tried other dedicated GPS units before settling in on the Garmin. Every one of them was more than acceptable. I doubt one could say that about the GPS software for the iPhone. I now view it as a waste of money and my time ( although I do have a certain fondness for G-Map for NA).

pmcd

Posted by pmcd on December 2, 2009 at 8:59 PM (PDT)

34

I am a frequent road warrior, and rely heavily on Co-Pilot.  Its far from perfect, but I’ve never ben all that impressed with a dedicated PND either.  Combined with my USA Spec stereo adapter for constant power and hard wired sound quality, and Kensington dash mount which puts the phone up near the windshield, eliminating the need for a GPS booster, I’m very happy. 

I used to use G-Map, but got frustrated with all the bugs.  I was a hair’s width away from the Tom-Tom app, but your reviews led me to Co-Pilot.  Please continue to review these apps.  While I may drop .99 on a whim, a $30 to $90 GPS purchase is exactly the kind of thing I turn to iLounge for.

Posted by jacob on December 2, 2009 at 10:02 PM (PDT)

35

Stop the reviews on ridiculous products no one will use. Until these companies grow a brain and realize iPhone apps for real people should come in under $20, then we should ignore them completely. I can see a professional app for medicine or law costing a significant amount, but an app for everyone should not. They should realize they cannot break even with their first 10 units sold. Let them sell several thousand to earn back their investment like normal businesses.

Posted by David Larson on December 2, 2009 at 10:15 PM (PDT)

36

I am surprised that no one ever mentions MotionX Drive.  Most of the time it is #1 in grossing paid apps, if I remember correctly.  I have it and it works decently, but has its faults.

The thing I like about this app is the pricing structure.  It costs around $3-$4 and if you want the spoken directions, you pay $2,99/month for them, with the first month comp’d.  That’s more like it!!  No way I’d pay much over that for the other ones, especially since it appears that Apple will provide this functionality to the iPhone for free some day (either with Google or their own maps service).

After that point you can ask us if we care.  Before then, yes we do.

Posted by cheech on December 3, 2009 at 5:57 AM (PDT)

37

Why would you not keep reviewing apps, even if their price point is up near $100. You review headphones that go up past $200, when many people wouldn’t pay more than $50.

Battery life should be a non-issue, as any serious GPS (iPhone/standalone) use requires a plug-in.

Definitely, though, accentuate the positives of iPhone nav apps. I don’t own a stand-alone unit, but I can’t see how it would be easier to update a stand-alone unit than an app. Also, do the cheap stand-alone units have Live information, or is that only in the more expensive units. How easy is it to move your address database to a stand-alone, etc.

Thank you for your past reviews on everything, I hope to continue to use iLounge as a complete resource.

Posted by Aaron W Uribe on December 3, 2009 at 9:24 AM (PDT)

38

Please keep up the reviews on the apps and the various brackets.

My wife’s BMW was just broken into and her sat radio and TomTom 730 were stolen. She got in late and yes, left them in plain sight.  The police say thieves are breaking into cars if there is even a suction ring outline on the windshield.  Cost with the window repair and the two items was touching $700.  On top of that these are not covered by the car’s insurance nor the household.  GPS devices are a very, very hot commodity and and easy fence.

So….

I will be getting her one of the apps for her 3GS,  rather than replacing the GPS.  Sirius now has a free app for subscribers so the iphone can cover that off too.  As well it can also be used as a bluetooth device (headset stolen too), which is now mandatory in our neck of the woods.

I am amazed at someone not realizing what it is like to carry a single device that can do so much and replace all the other products so easily.

So bring it on so i can get the right combo of add and bracket, please.

Posted by doumck on December 3, 2009 at 2:14 PM (PDT)

39

Hmm… I do have great interest in this segment of apps, but don’t see a ton of value in testing the local nav stuff.  In terms of GPS I’m really only interested in the complete PND replacement apps.  I have nav built-in with both cars, but love that I can use my Navigon when travelling.  I’m also comfortable with the $69 I paid for the Navigon and would spend a little more if there was no alternative.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to spend less.  I just think $69-$99 for an app that replicates the functionality of a PND with no ongoing subscription fees is reasonable.  No the price of map updates… that is a different story!

Posted by jkeith on December 3, 2009 at 2:57 PM (PDT)

40

“Yes, detailed reviews!  But they need to be kept up-to-date or they are less useful.  When updates are released, update the original review (instead of writing a new one).”

I agree with this. It would also be helpful if you could search reviews and use ratings based on the latest version of the product being reviewed. It doesn’t help if the first version of something got five stars and the newest one gets one star. You look in the rating today and the it gets plenty of stars even though it stinks.

I bought Co-Pilot based on your review and I’m really pleased with it. At the time I bought it it was only $35, now the price has dropped again to $25. It’s a GREAT deal. I’m not sure it provides the most accurate routes, but I’ve always gotten where I wanted to go. The interface could be a little easier, but I certainly can’t complain. Plus they continue to make free improvements regularly. I do wish it were easier to download updates. No matter how much free space I have on my iPhone, it tells me there’s insufficient space for the update (even if the update is significantly smaller than the amount of free space). I have to delete the app from my phone and re-install it every time.

Hopefully, we’ll be getting the google maps app for the iPhone soon. I’d happily pay $20 for that right now.

Posted by urbanslaughter on December 4, 2009 at 11:17 AM (PDT)

41

There’s a huge difference between built-in Maps app and non-subscription 3rd party Nav apps. To reliably guide Maps app needs live data connection, preferably over 3G. Apps like Navigon and TomTom store maps licensed from professional cartography firms like Navteq or TeleAtlas directly on iPhone and need only GPS signal to guide. That’s why they are much more expensive, that’s why their size is 1GB or more and that’s why for Apple it wasn’t just a simple change to the stock free Maps app.

Posted by Klopus on December 5, 2009 at 9:58 PM (PDT)

42

Perhaps you could began a web doc that changes to accommodate updates and new GPS apps.  That would be extremely useful, as it could remain up to date.  You guys seem to be thorough with your reviews, so this would indeed be very useful to iPhone users.

Posted by ampfit on December 8, 2009 at 12:40 AM (PDT)

43

Addressing your question; to continue with reviews, or whatever… 

I found this page while looking for guidance on GPS solution for a motorbike.  The plan is to mount an iPhone on the bars using RAM mount, hardware power to the unit using Powerlet, and using bluetooth to the helmet.

So if you guys feel that the market is “mature” already, then I’d hope to come here and find that answer easily.  Or if there’s some ground breaking development, that’s what I’d like to know.

Posted by Mad Max on December 28, 2009 at 10:46 AM (PDT)

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