REVIEW: G-Map U.S. East/West (TBT GPS App.)
I don't usually post reviews (in fact, I never have before) but I feel so strongly about this particular one app. that I just had to (FYI: I couldn't find it in the search archives, so I don't think it's ever been reviewed before). Also, I apologize for not including any screen-shots (I'm posting this from my iPhone). This is a review of the first *approved* turn by turn GPS app. for the iPhone: G-Map U.S. East/West.
G-Map costs $20.00 in the App. Store and it takes 40 minutes to an hour (!) to install on your iPhone (and it can only be done via wifi). Also, when you sync to iTunes to back up your apps, it will take approx. 4-8 hours to back up G-Map FOR THE FIRST TIME. Every sync thereafter will take the normal time to do.
In the beginning, I did find the controls/inputting routes to be confusing and difficult (a major complaint from other users) especially given that there's no instruction manual included (although I've heard that G-Maps website does give step by step instructions). But once I figured it out, it was easy. Your best options are to the "Where To? (entering an address by city, first then street, street #)" option or the "Route" option (where you enter a starting point and destination). Once you've plotted your route, just hit "Go!"
The UI is of course, superior to Google Maps, in that it actually resembles a stand-alone GPS (ala Garmin, Tom Tom, etc.). I should clarify that you can view the route in either top-down view (like Google Maps) or the pseudo 3-D view (ala Garmin and Tom Tom). There's another view option but I only use the pseudo 3-D view so I don't remember it offhand. In this view, the bottom of the screen tells you the road you're on, the top of the screen tells you the next road in the route. Also, the top right of the screen gives you the distance to the next turn point/street as well as a REAL-TIME turn by turn arrow-like a real GPS unit (!). If you go off-route, it will recalculate.
The most obvious, glaring omission is the lack of voice directions. Whether that's due to Apple's App. Store restrictions, I'm not sure, but it IS a shame since this app. is basically a turn by turn GPS, just without the voice. Some users have suggested using a beeping sound that beeps louder and faster when the next turn comes up and/or making the screen flash. Clever work-arounds, IMO.
+Price: At $20, it's a steal, IMHO. Especially considering there's no monthly fee and that it's only going to get better with updates.
+Though it's not polished, this is the closest thing to a "true" GPS the iPhone has ever come (legally, that is). The UI is far more functional than Google Maps in that it actually resembles a true GPS.
+Potential: as stated above, with updates, this thing could be THE killer app. of the App. Store.
+Fairly simple to use...once you figure it out.
+Unlike Google Maps, you can preview an entire route offline! Nice.
-No voice commands. Hopefully, the next update will allow beeping alerts (if Apple is indeed preventing voice commands for whatever bizarre reason).
-The red dot locator can OCCASSIONALLY lose your location if you make a sudden turn. The screen gets turned upside down and backward as it tries to recalculate your position. It's almost like it gets "confused" or "disoriented" when you make sudden turns. It happens once in a blue moon and only lasts a few seconds but it can be annoying. This should be fixed with updates.
-Accuracy. I am concerned because based on observation, the route that G-Map chooses is often NOT the quickest or smartest way to do it. It will sometimes take you WAYYY out of your way to get to a destination...you'll get there but it might take a bit longer than you expected. While G-Map has the better, more functional UI, Google Maps is still more reliable and more acccurate. If I go on an unfamiliar trip, I always double check Google Maps as a back-up since I don't have complete confidence in G-Maps...yet. I understand that G-Maps uses the Navteq database which is kind of surprising since Navteq supplies maps to Garmin and Magellan, to name a few. I guess you really do get what you pay for, as Bad Ash says. At any rate, I'd like to see the maps/route choices updated and made more accurate. (for anyone familiar with Oak Lawn, IL, G-Maps called 95th Street the "Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Highway/Rt. 12" -- WTF? Update your datbase, Navteq!)
-No integration with your Contacts, the Yellow Pages app., or even Google search. You have to enter all your addresses at least once (they can then be filed in a "Favorites" folder).
If you read the reviews in the App. Store, people either love it or hate it - but I think if there's one thing most of the lovers/haters agree on is that this thing has tremendous upside/potential. I also think your experience/perspective has a lot to do with it. If you're used to using polished/proven GPS units like Tom Tom, then you're gonna be disappointed and think G-Maps is pretty beta right now. In a way, you're right: it's not better than Tom Tom and it's not gonna replace your Garmin unit. But if you're the typical iPhone user who doesn't own a standalone GPS and has had to rely on Google Maps, this is a $20 Godsend. As long as Apple continues to deny Tom Tom, Telenav, Sygic, etc -- G-Maps is the closest thing to a fully functioning GPS unit we iPhone users have and hopefully it will continue to improve.
EDIT: I should clarify that G-Map actually comes in 2 packages: a "West" and "East" version (the west covering the west coast of the USA and the east, the east coast).
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 02-21-2009 at 10:09 PM.
- 02-22-2009, 07:21 AM #2
Enclosed are 5 random pics. Sorry that they're kinda boring...I'm too lazy to choose a super-busy downtown shot. :-)
You can also check out the official website: G-Map_for_iPhone
And lastly, there are video demonstrations on youtube (just key in "GMap" or "G Map" and "Iphone").
It's a great day when turn by turn FINALLY has come to the iphone (I'm still pinching myself...)
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 02-22-2009 at 08:13 AM.
- 02-22-2009, 08:27 AM #4
Like I said: if you already own a stand-alone GPS unit (like Garmin, etc.), then you won't need this.
But if you're like me and don't already own one (you've been using the iphone's Google Maps as your GPS), this is a $20.00 steal. It's also nice that it's one less thing you have to carry around. It's like a cheap, bare bones version of Tom Tom. It's got all the basic features of a GPS, except voice.
Hopefully, the more support this app. gets (as more and more people buy it), the more the developers will be able to push out cool updates. This is the largest, most expensive app. I've seen in the App. Store, but IMO, it's worth it.
- 02-22-2009, 09:47 PM #6
- 02-23-2009, 12:03 PM #7
This from the G-Map website: XRoad > Home
"2. Does G-Map support real time Guidance? Such as Turn-by-Turn arrow and Voice prompt?
On next updating (March 2009), we are going to provide alarm effect instead of voice prompt on the G-map.
Currently, our application doesn't support turn by turn guidance including voice prompt.
This is based on APPLE's strict strategy which prohibits any real time guidance. Once there's any positive change in APPLE strategy, we'll support this function.
Once there's any positive change in APPLE strategy, we'll apply this function technically with no fail as well as free updates for this."
Even though we didn't get voice prompting (YET...), this is still great news, IMO. Alarm effects/beeping is almost just as good. This app. just got one step closer to perfect.
If you haven't gotten G-Map yet, this might be the incentive you need. At worst, it's a fine companion to Google Maps. I mean between the 2 of them, no iphone user should EVER get lost.
Now if they could just perfect the *accuracy*/reliability of G-Maps AI...
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 03-12-2009 at 08:45 PM.
Hm...interesting...since I posted my last update to this thread, the next day (3/13/09), G-Map disappeared from the App. Store.
I checked the official G-Map website, and they said that it's been temporarily pulled to see how it can be improved and that it'll be back in the App. Store soon.
God, I hope this means another major update is coming up!
Starting to feel like the biggest GPS geek in town,
- 03-17-2009, 11:52 PM #10
That's what I was thinking yesterday too. It's a whole new ballgame now. As much as I like G-Map, if Tom Tom or Garmin come along, obviously I'd consider upgrading. One advantage G-Map has over it's competitors is the lack of a
monthly fee -- although, that may change too ...
Just got an e-mail back from a G-Map representive. G-Map should be back in the App. Store within a week with new features. He said that with 3.0 allowing voice prompts now, the upgrade is taking some time -- so if the very next update doesn't have voice, it won't be much longer than that.
So it appears that G-Map, and not Sygic, will be the first full-fledged Nav. System in the App. Store. Oh man, so many choices coming up...I might not have anything but GPS apps on my iphone!
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 03-18-2009 at 07:42 AM.
Okay, folks, G-Map v. 1.3 made its triumphant return to the App. Store yesterday (?) with all new upgrades. That's the good news.
The bad news...the size of the update is so frickin' HUGE, I'm still waiting to complete the download (been at this for about 2 hours now). Since I have both G-Map East AND G-Map West, that's gonna double my time. So I haven't had a chance to try the new upgraded version YET.
As soon as I finish this whole ordeal and try it out, I'll post a follow-up.
Keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed,
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 03-30-2009 at 08:41 PM.
GPS Round-up (Very LONG Post...you've been warned...;))
Okay, I've had just under a day's time to play around with G-Map East/West version 1.3 -- so obviously, there may be many features that I haven't discovered yet.
There's lots of points to cover, and I'll try to go in order.
1) Downloading the Update From the App. Store: Like the initial installation, the upgrade can only be done over Wifi and because G-Map just might be the largest app in the store, it takes a very long time. It took my iphone about an hour and a half to complete the update. If you do this, I strongly recommend going into airplane mode, shutting off your alarms, etc -- the fewer phone interruptions, the better.
2) Syncing to iTunes to back it up: This REALLY took a long time; about an hour and a half to two hours to sync with iTunes and back up the apps for the first time. Every sync thereafter will be fine; it's just that first time sync which sucks.
3) G-Map Version 1.3 - SOUND EFFECTS: Well first off, the most noticeable (and most anticipated) upgrade is the inclusion of an alarm sound-effect that -- instead of voice prompts -- goes off when you approach a turn in the route. It reminds me of a ringtone. This was a planned upgrade from well before 3.0 was announced; it was done to bypass Apple's strict anti-voice prompt GPS policy -- at the time, no one, including G-Map, knew that Apple would soon be lifting the ban to allow voice prompting. At any rate, the alarm effect works, but IMO, the alarm effect should have been longer in duration...and if it can't be any louder (because of the limitation in the iphone's speaker), then it could have been higher pitched as well. At any rate, I just got an e-mail from a G-Map representative today, and he confirmed that G-Map will have voice prompting/directing once 3.0 is released. So the alarm sound effect is a nice, temporary fix (albeit a little flawed) that will have to suffice until 3.0.
4) G-Map Version 1.3 - IT STAYS ON NOW: One nice little upgrade is that once you launch G-Map, the screen stays on, never dims, and never shuts off. Nice.
5) G-Map Version 1.3 - WHAT CHANGED...FOR THE WORSE? When I first reviewed G-Map v. 1.2 (see the earlier posts in this thread), one of G-Map's strong points was that you would see in the upper right hand corner a box with a yellow arrow that would tell you whether the next turn would be left, right, etc....and it would give you the DISTANCE to the next turn, right down to the feet. In v. 1.3, it's been replaced by a lower right box with the "purple line" path that still tells you the direction, but visually (when you're driving), it's not as clear and effective as the old yellow arrow. More importantly, they eliminated the distance meter...you now have no idea how far it is until the next point. I've tried to come up with different explanations for why G-Map did this. Maybe they figure that with the new alarm sounds, it's not necessary? Or maybe they figure that now that they're including the entire distance/time countdown of the entire route, it's not necessary? ::Shrugs. I really miss knowing the distance to the next turn. IMO, it was a huge mistake to have eliminated it. I should also mention the fact that they've included a GAME that you're supposed to "play" as you're using the app. It's not as crazy as it sounds but...the "game" basically consists of opening up onscreen "prizes" every time you approach a turn in the route. The only way to open the prize (which causes the alarm effect to go off) is to follow the route. In other words, to play the game and win all the prizes, you have to follow the route directions. The whole idea of the game itself, IMO, is kind of strange, silly, and pointless...but harmless. To play the game, you just have to follow the route directions, and that's what we all want to do right? At any rate, I would have been happier if they would have kept the distance meter to the next turn instead of including the rather pointless driving "game."
6) Final Thoughts On V. 1.3?: I have to say...I'm actually kind of disappointed in this latest showing by G-Map. For as long as it was pulled from the App. Store, I was hoping for a little bit more...I was certainly not expecting them to eliminate the distance meter, for one thing. The interface, while promising, still isn't as smooth as say, Telenav. And the accuracy of the AI when calculating routes still leaves something to be desired. I've said many times before: G-Map has a nasty tendency to cook up routes that at times, make absolutely no sense, forcing you to take unnecessary side roads, or go onto the highway when you could just take a direct local street, make unnecessary U-Turns, etc. Let me be direct: the AI can be absolutely idiotic at times. It's because of that reason that I still will double check a route via Google Maps; why I still don't have complete confidence in G-Map when going to some place I've never been to. To me, Google Maps -- while it lacks the UI and turn by turn/voice GPS -- still has the most accurate routing/mapping system I've seen. It comes up with the smartest, quickest, most up-to-date driving directions as well as any navi. system. By contrast, G-Map will get you to your destination point...you'll just get there an hour later. I was hoping this problem would be fixed in v. 1.3. Sadly, I was wrong. If G-Map wants to be taken seriously as a legit GPS Navi. system, they really need to step up their game. With 3.0 coming, I can think of 2 other GPS companies that will probably release their own iphone apps sometime this summer/fall -- G-Map could be left in the dust if they don't fix some serious problems.
7) Other GPS Thoughts: I've spent quite a bit of time e-mailing/calling the GPS big guns. My gut feeling/prediction is that Telenav and Sygic will most likely be the next two GPS apps to appear in the App Store with the summer time launch of 3.0. Telenav has already released an official statement: The iPhone 3.0 OS and What it Means for TeleNav | TeleNavÂ® Blog - Navigating Life and Sygic has already stated that they're waiting to hear back from Apple for approval on their GPS app. Also it makes sense since both Telenav and Sygic are companies that specialize in making GPS apps for mobile phones. Hardware is not their forte. I do not believe that TomTom, Garmin, or Magellan will be appearing in the App Store anytime soon. Reps from all 3 companies have pretty much said in a tight-lipped way, they don't currently have any plans to release anything on the iphone. This also makes sense, because as John T pointed out, these guys do have their own hardware to sell and it wouldn't be in their best interests to release their software on a device as popular as the iphone -- only to watch it cannibalize sales from their own TomTom, Garmin, and Magellan units (that's another reason, I see Telenav and Sygic being a perfect fit for the iphone). I could be wrong...I mean, wasn't TomTom ready and willing to release their app for the iphone a year ago before Apple shot them down? But I just don't see TomTom, Garmin, or Magellan doing anything for us iphone users....yet.
8)What I'm hopeful about: I have seen Telenav in action on other phones and I have liked what I've seen. It has excellent traffic, accident updates, over 10 million POIs (restaurants, ATM, etc.) in its database. It has a clean, crisp, nice looking interface, with easy to hear/understand voice prompting and it's database is continuously updated over the air from the Telenav database (the drawback is the $9.99 monthly fee...but IMO, it's worth it for what you're getting). Honestly? I won't need a Garmin app if Telenav releases an iphone app. And from what I've seen so far from Sygic, it looks to be just as good. So that's at least TWO high-caliber GPS apps that I'm hoping (nay, PRAYING) will be in the hands of iphone users come this summer.
9) Conclusion: I applaud the folks at X-Road/G-Maps for having the guts to release such a bold program in the App. Store. I applaud them for wanting to be the first TBT GPS "to lead" all the others into the App Store. As it stands right now, they really are the first *legal* TBT GPS App for the iphone. They have the advantage over everyone else right now in that they're already here. But once the new guys arrive this summer (like I think they will), the competition will be fierce and G-Map is gonna have to really bring their A-Game if they want to stay relevant. This is going to be a great time for GPS/Navi. geeks like myself. Let the games begin!
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 03-31-2009 at 09:47 PM.
- 04-01-2009, 06:24 AM #15iMore Pro
- 718 Posts
I used it yesterday to get me to my kids Doctor appt (no idea where it was) and compared it to google maps, and I gotta saay, google wanted to make me drive an extra 30 minutes with the route it plotted. G-map plotted a much better route. The noise before the turn saved me a U-turn and I had wondered what the prize boxes were, LOL...kinda stupid wanting someone to play a game while they drive.
Oh and it doesn't work with the new 3.0 beta.
- 04-01-2009, 10:21 AM #16
@shutter, what part of the country do you live in? Because I wonder if G-Map's accuracy varies by region? I'm in Chicagoland and let me give you an example: I live about 5 minutes away from my parents (a mile distance if even that). The route that Google Maps gives me is the route that I always drive. G-Map wants me to get on the frikkin' highway! Just things like that that diminish my faith/confidence in G-Map. But those have just been *my* experiences. Glad to hear that it saved you tons of trouble getting to the doctors office.
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 04-01-2009 at 02:40 PM.
- 04-01-2009, 02:34 PM #18
- 04-01-2009, 03:07 PM #19
Preview of G-Map For 3.0!!!
If you haven't already, check out this youtube preview of how G-Map is going to look when 3.0 arrives in June (?):
G-Map's representatives have often talked the big game, boasting about how they were going to be the "leaders" of the turn by turn GPS revolution for the iphone; that they were ready to play with the big boys, like TomTom or Telenav, or whoever was going to possibly develop a GPS for the iphone.
Well, it looks like they weren't kidding. I'm actually QUITE IMPRESSED with what I've seen. It looks amazing so far. The voice prompt quality is absolutely fantastic! And the interface is Telenav-smooth and clean and easy to see. And they wisely restored the distance count-down meter (to the next turn). This is going to be fantastic! And what's awesome is if you already have G-Map on your iphone, this upgrade will be FREE once 3.0 comes this summer (since G-Map has pledged that all software updates will be free). [On a side note, I do hope they also improved the AI of the route generator/calculator.]
And so with the arrival of 3.0, it's a brave new GPS world for iphone users. G-Map is the *first* major player to throw their hat into the GPS arena. I cannot wait to see what the other competitors are going to bring. Fasten your seat belt, folks (no pun intended)...this is going to be fun!
Kudos again, to the folks at Xroad for bringing their A-Game to the big show. This definitely isn't your Dad's G-Map.
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 04-26-2009 at 09:06 PM.
- 04-27-2009, 10:37 AM #21
In keeping with the theme of the "GPS round-up" (the other players), this youtube video was released fairly recently with Sygic demonstrating their TBT voice nav. app for the iphone (European version). Hopefully, the English version will come to the US/Canada soon:
Speaking of which, I cannot wait for G-Map to finally start speaking voice turn by turn directions this month (if not this week).
EDIT: It was just pointed out to me that re: the Sygic video, it's not just exclusively for 3.0 -- it's also out for 2.0 jail-break. Still good news for those of us who haven't jail-broken their iphones.
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 06-07-2009 at 10:29 AM.
First off, great news today re: 3.0 and the new 3GS.
And of course, pertaining to this thread, REALLY great news about the upcoming TomTom app! Like every other GPS geek, I've been nerding out about this for the past 7-8 hours or so since it was announced.
And in related news, from the Twitter feeds, Mary Beth Lowell (spokesperson for Telenav) posted a response to today's news:
TeleNav iPhone Update | TeleNavÂ® Blog - Navigating Life
I'm hopeful that the "update" that is coming soon will be the announcement of the long-awaited Telenav GPS app for the iPhone...
As predicted, the iPhone GPS Wars are heating up. As soon as TomTom announced their iphone app yesterday, Telenav made a public response (albeit basically tight-lipped) with another "announcement about the iphone" to follow in the very near future. Now today, another GPS manufacturer Navigon responds to the TomTom news with their own GPS apps:
GPS War on the iPhone! - AppScout
Electronista | NAVIGON jumps into iPhone turn-by-turn GPS
Navigon to launch another iPhone OS 3.0’s PND | iPhone Buzz
So here's the count so far for *confirmed* GPS apps to appear in the App Store this summer: 1) TomTom, 2) G-Map East/West, 3) Navigon. The next 2 apps to appear? IMO, most likely Telenav and Sygic.
Kinda disappointed (but not surprised) that Garmin isn't jumping on board...they're not going to compete against their own Nuviphone. *If* it's true that Garmin's not ever going to come to the iphone, it's their loss; I think they'll look back at this moment (years from now) and realize they BLEW a great opportunity that TomTom and the others were smart enough to jump on. Of course, if Garmin is secretly developing an iphone app as we speak (big if), scratch what I just said.
This is getting good. We went from no TBT voice GPS apps to 3 confirmed already.
Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 06-09-2009 at 07:27 PM.