Review: G-Map US and Canada
G-Maps, by XRoad, Inc
• A fair number of options
• Easy to use interface
• Clear menus
• Couldn’t find some towns
• No frills
• Live traffic is expensive
GPS apps are still the rage, with each one clamoring to be the best in the field. As I have indicated in my previous reviews, ultimately what people would be interested in depends on their personal preferences and what they are looking for. I generally prefer apps that load maps on to the iPhone (with 16 or 32GB you have plenty of space) but others may prefer different features. Some apps clearly offer more features, have better functionality, or may just be easier to use.
G-Map US and Canada aims at the simpler end of the spectrum, but delivers a solid GPS application. It is one where the maps are loaded on to the iPhone, has no monthly (or timed) period of use, and doesn’t require a data connection. (Note, a data connection is required for some of the additional features). There aren’t a lot of bells and whistle – you don’t have lane navigation, you can’t choose walking or public transport routes, but the features that are included seem to work well within the app (and it does have iPod control playback!).
One of the key selling points of this app is the simplicity of use. When you start the app, you get a screen with nice big buttons that are clearly labeled – “where to?”, “view map”, “settings”, etc. It’s not as simplistic as iGo (for example), but it is easy to use. The “where to” button takes you to a screen where you can input your destination. You are given the choice between recents, contacts, address, zip code, city, POI, and a few other options. Right away, I tried the city of Terlingua, TX (my “in the middle of nowhere city”) and it wasn’t included in the database. That’s a strike against the app right there – the database of cities is not as robust as other apps. If I put in the zip code, however, it found Terlingua with no problem.
The options four routing are limited. While some apps give you a plethora of details and options, with G-Map you are limited to shortest or fastest. You do have a variety of options when it comes to the route itself – avoiding u-turns, toll roads, highways, ferry routes, unpaved roads, and carpool lanes to name a few. The maps itself, just like the interface, and pretty straightforward. You can choose to show points of interest, the maps have a nice 3D look to them, but they are not incredible detailed. Of course, the goal is to provide directions, not to have a beautiful picture of a road on your iPhone.
The turn by turn directions were good – you don’t get a choice of the voices, but the voice did read the street name and it was clear and loud. These are features I always find makes it much easier when using the app in the car. It is also very easy to add waypoints in the middle of a trip – simply choose the route option from the menu, choose “edit route”, and add your waypoint. This is nice for multi-stop trips. There were some instances where the app didn’t choose the route that I would have suggested, but I never found any glaring errors with the route choice.
The route preview option is nice because it gives you a “movie” of your route – complete with voice prompts. For short routes, you can get a preview of what you will need to do. In addition, you can get a list of the turns you need to make to read over them in advance. There really wasn’t any map overview option to preview the route, so you can’t get a large picture of any trips you need to make. I find this particularly bad, as it may be difficult to identify if you are going out of your way in an area you don’t know.
The app comes with one year of live traffic support. However, this is indicated by a button you have to choose – it didn’t appear to incorporate any live traffic into the routing decisions. The traffic can be renewed on a yearly basis for $39.99, which seems a bit steep to me.
One nice feature is that you can choose a detour for the route (500ft, 1 mile, 2 miles, 4 miles) so if you are in the middle of traffic, and you know it will be bad for the next mile, you can request an alternate detour for that part of the trip. As with other apps, I didn’t see any option for preferred roads or roads to avoid – a feature that I think should be required. If you like driving on a specific highway, you should be able to select that as an option!
All in all, G-Map is a good competitor in a crowded field of GPS turn by turn apps. While it won’t knock your socks off with loads of features, it will do the job you bought it for, with just enough functionality and features to make it worthwhile. At $49.99, it is on the cheaper end of the spectrum of GPS apps, although it does have some competition in that price range. If you are looking for a no frills, maps on phone turn by turn app, G-Maps is a viable alternative, although for a similar price you might be able to get one with more features. Three and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.