GPS MINI-REVIEWS: Sygic North America VS. G-Map V.1.3.1
Had a little chance to play around with the newly released Sygic North America and G-Map East/West v.1.3.1. Since they both came at about the same time, I decided to do a quick mini-review/comparison of both:
Sygic North America ($79.99 one-time fee....yearly upgrades price TBA?):
+Beautiful graphics, smooth scrolling.
+Good, loud (and sharp) voice quality. I couldn't stand the obnoxious (almost shouting) male voice used for the US ("Lucien"), so I switched to the UK/British male voice "Simon." Much smoother, calmer, and soothing to listen to. Overall, much easier on the ears. :-)
+Landscape mode is gorgeous.
+Recalculates fairly quickly if you miss a turn.
+Very customizable. You can choose from a variety of different voices (male, female) speaking different languages, route preview videos (customizable playing speed), etc. Lots of options...sometimes, I think TOO many options...
+Since the maps are pre-loaded on the phone (vs. streamed in realtime like Telenav), it's less of a drain on battery, AND you don't need a data signal to use it (just GPS). FYI, it took me 2 hours to download the app and another half an hour to install it onto my iphone and back it up. That's the tradeoff of having maps on your phone.
-The flip-side: you don't get real-time traffic/congestion data and maps can become outdated if you don't choose to update (as any one-time pre-loaded GPS app goes).
-Kind of a confusing menu/UI. Not intuitive, IMO. If you think G-Map's data input was complicated, you haven't seen anything yet.
-Yet another iphone GPS app that forgets about contacts integration (come on, guys, you've had how many months to get this together?).
-No integration with the ipod app. At the present time, you cannot play music while navigating. Disappointing.
-Has only "partial text-to-speech (TTS)." It only says the name of *major* highways, and does not say the name of any streets or roads. How spoiled I've become with the text-to-speech feature of AT&T Navigator by Telenav (ATTN). As I've said before, TTS is IMHO, a *vital* feature for the GPS systems of today. It's one extra safety precaution, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road when the GPS tells you the name of the streets/roads, etc.
-I didn't always like the "timing" of the voice prompts. Sometimes, it seemed like the cues to turn came a little late (like within 10 feet of the turn). Not good, when you don't even know what street name to turn onto.
-I could even overlook the lack of TTS and the poor voice prompting if they would have at least displayed the NAME of the next street you turn to. Yes, that's right: it doesn't display the name of the next road in the route until you actually turn ONTO it (- I've been playing around with the controls, but I haven't seen a way to fix this setting YET... ). This is perhaps, the biggest flaw of the app. If you're not going to say the street names, then at least display the overhead name of the next road in the route. The things we take for granted in GPS apps...isn't this standard with any type of nav. system? I have *never* seen a GPS app that didn't have such a basic feature.
-The routes calculated weren't the most accurate or smart of all the apps I've tested. G-Map, Gokivo, ATTN, Google Maps all came up with routes which were more efficient and logical.
OVERALL: For as long as we've waited for Sygic, this was kind of a disappointment. Underneath the pretty exterior, it's missing some fairly basic features. I have to give it 2/5 stars.
G-Map East/West v.1.3.1:
Okay, first off, I'm just as baffled as the rest of you. Like everyone else, I was expecting the full-blown nav-version we saw in the Tap Critic's youtube video. The update to 1.3.1 is a good one, but a far cry from what most of us were hoping for. I understand if G-Map wanted to take their time before giving us that, but they shouldn't have leaked the video to the Tap Critic and told him that that was what was going to be released in June with 3.0, when it clearly was not. Anyhoo, on to the review:
+Beautiful female voice. Very sharp and crisp. Could be a little louder, but it's probably my favorite voice of all the iphone GPS apps. Good prompting as well. It warned me about turns well in advance and leading right up to the turn. I actually think the voice guidance is superior to Sygic.
+I used to rip G-Map for it's biggest flaw: it would calculate routes that were bizarre, illogical, wasteful, and made absolutely no sense. If a sat-nav program can't even give you reliable, fast routes, what's the point? Well, the folks at XRoad appeared to have fixed this problem: I tested several routes in the Chicago area, and G-Map calculated routes which were just as accurate as any of the other apps I tested (and at times, even more).
+Recalculates surprisingly fast if you go off route. I timed it at about 1-3 seconds! Very nice, G-Map!
+They removed the silly driving game and restored the distance/turn to the next street.
+They have now given you the option of previewing the entire route (step by step). Before you had to actually play through the entire simulation to see every step.
+Good, solid, simple UI. It's not as dazzling as Sygic's but it's better.
+Although the price jumped $10, it's still only a $35 one-time fee.
+Like Sygic, maps are preloaded. And like Sygic, it takes a LOOONG time to download and install on Wifi. Updates also take hours, FYI.
-Still no contacts integration.
-No ipod integration. I'm not sure why they removed this since the earlier versions of G-Map did have it.
-While the voice prompts/voice quality is par excellence, there's no TTS. The G-Map version in the Tap Critics Video had it, but this one does not. Not even "partial TTS" like Sygic or Navigon.
OVERALL: Overlooking the disappointment that this isn't the full-blown version seen in the Tap Critic's video, I have to give G-Map 3/5 stars. It's a good, solid GPS app and for the first time ever, I would say it's finally what I would call *reliable.* For me, it'll make a solid back-up to ATTN (if I ever lose a data signal...which hasn't happened yet, BTW). Based on what I've seen so far, I believe that if we ever get the full-blown version seen in the video, G-Map will rival TomTom and Garmin. They have a good, solid start and it should continue to get better.
CONCLUSION: In what I would call an "upset victory," G-Map outperformed the highly touted Sygic. It is overall, the more solid, better application -and this isn't even the finished version of G-Map. I'll continue to play around with Sygic (and I may grow to like it a bit more) but for now, I would say it's a disappointment. Of all the GPS apps available for the iphone right now, I would still rate AT&T Nav/Telenav as the best overall choice with the most features but I would have to rank G-Map right behind it. As I said earlier, ATTN will continue to be my primary GPS app, with G-Map as the worthy back-up. When TomTom and Navigon come, things should really get interesting.