REVIEW: Gokivo (powered by yahoo!) GPS App for iPhone OS 3.0
As I type this (Friday 6/19/09 8:00 AM CDT) the first fully-featured TBT GPS with voice App for 3.0 (for the USA, anyway) is Gokivo (Powered by yahoo!) by NIM (Networks in Motion). Navigon will be in the App Store by the end of this month (probably next week), G-Map should be releasing their 3.0 update any day now, and TomTom should be here (hopefully) before August. Also, Sygic and Telenav, among others, are also expected to show up soon. But for now, Gokivo is the first for the iPhone.
I've had about a day to play around with the app and I have to say I like it. For the first fully-decked sat-nav system, it's pretty sweet. NIM provides navigation services to a number of big companies (Verizon Wireless, AAA, AT&T, Ericsson, Sprint, TELUS, U.S. Cellular and YellowPages.com). Most notably, these are the folks responsible for VZW Navigator - which is teling, because I see Gokivo as basically a VZW Navigator for the iPhone.
Before I go into the bullet points, I wanted to comment on something: to use Gokivo as a full-time GPS driving app, you have to pay $9.99 (per month). If you've read the reviews in the App Store, Gokivo has gotten hammered with dozens upon dozens of 1-star ratings accusing the developers of "scamming" users and that it "was not clear" that a monthly fee was required. Maybe I'm missing something, but when you read the app description it VERY CLEARLY says that the $9.99 fee is required to use this on a monthly basis. Also, who in the world actually thinks that a fully-featured GPS system would only be a dollar? The $10 monthly fee is pretty standard for mobile GPS services like VZW Navigator and Telenav. Again, I'm not understanding the outrage. Speaking of Telenav, there's a pretty good chance that we're going to see this on the iPhone very soon (they're supposed to be releasing an official statement in the very near future) -- when it does come, they're probably going to charge $10 per month as well. This is a different model from the one that TomTom, Sygic, and Navigon will probably feature (which I'm *guessing* will be a one-time fee to get all the maps on the phone).
+The overall quality of the app is more or less, on par with mobile GPS systems like VZW Navigator and Telenav. The UI is simple, slick, easy to see, easy to use, and competent. So far in all the test routes that I calculated, they seem to be accurate, smart, and efficient (I've double checked them with Google Maps, which I believe to be still the most accurate mapper on the iPhone). Compare that with the current pre-3.0 version of G-Map (which has a bizarre penchant for repetitive U-turns, strange route choices, and other problems).
+For voice prompts, there is a female voice which also features *text to speech* (ie: it actually says the NAMES of the streets and highways) -- which is important since it's not been confirmed/denied (yet) that either TomTom or Navigon will have text to speech.
+As I was test-driving, I repeatedly went off route, and was impressed by how quick this thing recalculated my route (approx. 1-2 seconds).
+Yes, thank God...it's integrated with all your contacts.
+You can play the music from your ipod library while navigating and when a voice prompt comes up, the music "dims."
+I have to check my facts on this one again since I just bought it, but IINM, Gokivo pulls all the data/maps OTA (much like Google Maps). Maps are constantly updated and you also get traffic alerts and delays in real-time. Very much like Telenav. This is a plus for many reasons, one of them being that the app doesn't take a lot of space on your phone (ie: a typical GPS app can take up to 1-2 GB of space!). The downside: constantly pulling data OTA KILLS your battery life. I guess the good thing for those of us who will be using TomTom or G-Map (which both will put all the maps on your phone), the battery drain *should* be better.
-The above mentioned battery drain problem.
-I guess for some, the monthly fee will be a problem. But again, that's pretty standard for this kind of GPS model.
-This isn't necessarily a fault of Gokivo, but more of a fault of the iPhone hardware: because the iPhone's audio speaker is pretty weak, it can be hard to hear the voice prompts while driving, especially with all the ambient noise. Your best bet is to connect it to any aux. cable so you can hear it through the car sterero (ex: Belkin). BTW, does anyone know of any *good* iphone car player/chargers? At least where I live (Chicago), the Belkin has a horrible time finding any FM frequencies to play on (I feel like a human antenna everytime I have to hold and maneuver it to pick up a half-way decent signal).
CONCLUSION: I'm still messing around with this brand-new app so if I discover more tricks, I'll post back. In short, Gokivo is better than Google Maps (which doesn't have recalculating ability, voice prompts, real-time navigation), better than the current version of G-Map (pre-3.0) and (for today) the best GPS app availaible for the iPhone right now (tomorrow, G-Map for 3.0 or Navigon could be released and that could change everything again...). 4 out of 5 stars.