Turn by Turn Navigation: A Comprehensive Look at what the App Store has to offer
Over the past year we’ve spent a lot of time discovering just how powerful the iPhone (and 3G iPad) is as a device to help you get where you’re going. If it hasn’t yet, it would seem that the wealth of navigation tools in the App Store would negate the need to ever own a standalone GPS unit… So, yes, there are plenty of options out there, but at prices that take a lot more serious consideration than most apps, you want to first evaluate your navigational needs and make sure that you know what you’re getting. Today we discuss our findings on a meta level, presenting the pros and cons of the iPhone apps offered by all the major players in the navigation world.
Magellan Roadmate USA – $39.99
Pros: If you’re willing to drop a sizable chunk of change to get the most out of your iPhone as a navigational tool, Magellan Roadmate gets the nod due to one big factor: Reliability. It seems that all of these companies are interested in packing in novelty features, when really you just want your navigator to blend in to the driving experience. Magellan does that by offering guidance that is not obtrusive and an interface that explains itself.
Cons: You probably haven’t heard of the developer—MiTAC Digital Corporation, and the company didn’t go out of its way to appear as a serious contender. By that, I mean that Magellan doesn’t get any style points. The color scheme is basic and the menus—while pleasantly functional—don’t impress.
NAVIGON MobileNavigator USA – $49.99
Pros: “Competent” is perhaps the best word to describe the GPS service offered by NAVIGON. While the guidance and interface are nothing to write home about, the biggest appeal of going with NAVIGON would have to be its pairing with Navigon Now —an app that works with NAVIGON to make address input less of a pain.
Cons: As one of the more expensive options out there, one would have hoped that NAVIGON sets itself apart more than it does.
CoPilot Live USA — $4.99
Pros: The rock-bottom price of this navigator is an immediate attention-getter. Set at just a fraction of the price of the high-end options, CoPilot aims to undercut the competition while still ushering you safely to your destination. If you’re on a strict budget, you can feel good about dropping five bucks to expand your iPhone’s navigation capabilities.
Cons: It’s cheap for a reason. CoPilot offers a valuable service, but it pales when held up against what you’ll get from a NAVIGON, Magellan, TomTom, or Garmin. From menu design to map scrolling, there’s just less polish to be found in CoPilot.
TomTom USA — $49.99
Pros: TomTom International fulfills its reputation by offering an iPhone app that doesn’t differ from their standalone units in any detectable ways. This means that those who pay fifty bucks will get the same great guidance complemented by a clean interface and slick visuals… TomTom even does the others one better by offering some humorous variety in the way of voice guidance. Homer Simpson, anyone?
Cons: So chock full of features that some don’t feel fully fleshed out. Specifically, finding points of interest doesn’t seem to take into consideration your current trajectory. There were also frequent instances of lost signal.
Garmin StreetPilot Onboard USA — $39.99
Pros: Closely replicates the experience of using a Garmin standalone unit. Users who have experienced Garmin products can expect to jump right in with no learning curve.
Cons: No standout features. Garmin relies on the typical address input system (which is a pain), and doesn’t make up for it with some other special feature in a different sector of the app.