1. Tunnelrunner's Avatar
    I haven't visited the forums in quite some time, and I know that there are many of you who are brand new to the iPhone and have been wondering what GPS apps are available. I also know that recently, someone started a thread asking if the iPhone had a turn by turn navigation app that was comparable to Android's Google Navigation. Anyhoo, I thought it might be helpful to all the newcomers to give my 2 cents on the most popular GPS apps available for the iPhone.

    As has been noted before, Google Maps Navigation works great as long as there's a data connection. With AT&T, that can be a problem. With Verizon, it might not be an issue. Either way, I've always believed that GPS apps that preload the maps onboard were superior to apps that stream their maps live over the air (like Google Maps Navigation) - the maps seem to scroll more smoothly with less of a "lag," better tracking, etc.

    Having said that, there's basically 2 different kinds of driving navigation apps for the iPhone (ever since turn by turn navigation became available on iOS in 2009) - 1) apps that preload the maps onboard and 2) apps that stream their maps live over the air.

    Keep in mind that if you buy an app that preloads/stores the maps on your iPhone (in this respect, they're superior/more reliable than Google Navigation), it will usually take around 1-2 GBs of space and (depending on what region you download) will cost around $50 (as an average). On the plus side, having maps stored onboard cuts down on data usage and since AT&T has tiered data plans, that's a bonus. I'm not familiar with the data packages that Verizon will offer but their network coverage is (IMO) superior to AT&Ts so it might not be as much of an issue.

    If you go with the apps that stream data live, you will obviously save memory but you will also have to pay some sort of fee (yearly, monthly, or per-use) to use it. I'll *briefly* cover the most popular/well-known GPS apps for the iPhone - I want to mention that some of the apps are newer so I've never tried them before so if anyone has experience with them, feel free to jump in. I'll start with category 1 first.

    1) Apps that store the maps on the iPhone. In no particular order:

    a. G-Map - This was the first non-jailbreak turn by turn pseudo-navigation app available for the iPhone (actually released pre-3.0). It came in various packages (East, West, California, etc.). It was promising at first, but it appears to have been all but abandoned by the developers, with no updates being released in over a year. Avoid this orphan.
    b. Sygic - This Eurobased company released a pretty solid, reliable GPS app shortly after the 3.0 release. My biggest complaint was that the UI was very "un-iphone like;" very unintuitive. It has been a couple of years since I've used this app so I'm hoping it's been vastly improved since that time.
    c. CoPilot - I've never had a chance to use this app so I can't really speak of it. Before it came out, the previews of it looked good.
    d. Magellan - Magellan released their satnav app a little later than the other companies, so I never had a chance to try it.
    e. Navigon MobileNavigator - See below
    f. TomTom - I combined this entry with Navigon for one reason: I think most iPhone users regard Navigon and TomTom as the "Big 2," the 2 best GPS apps available for iOS. You can't go wrong with either one: superior routing, graphics, preloaded maps, live traffic (TomTom's costs $20 a year), good POI database (with Google integration), etc. I personally prefer TomTom over Navigon because I preferred TomTom's UI and color scheme over Navigon's.

    2) Apps that stream the data live over the air. These apps have the advantage of always having the most up to date maps as well as live traffic and superior POI databases. Again, in no particular order:

    a. Garmin Streetpilot - After a ridiculous 2 year delay, Garmin finally released their long-awaited entry into the iPhone navigation market about a month and a half ago. The newest/youngest GPS app still needs some polish (the audio is horrible for starters) but overall, it works well; it's actually a pretty solid navigation experience, especially considering it's only the first version. It requires a $40 one-time fee for lifetime up-to-date maps, live traffic, etc. Speaking of which, Garmin made a strange decision - in contrast to the other big 3 (Navigon, TomTom, and Magellan), Garmin decided to go with streamed maps vs. preloaded maps. This has its pros and cons which have been hammered over ad nauseum. It remains to be seen whether or not Garmin will allow the purchase of onboard maps in future updates.
    b. AT&T Navigator by Telenav - This was my app of choice for quite some time. As long as you have a data signal it works and the POI search is among the best of the navigation programs. It gets hammered in the App Store Reviews because of, IMO, one reason: it requires either a recurring $10 monthly fee or an annual $69.00 annual fee for continued use. I stopped using this app, not because it didn't work well (it actually is an excellent app), I stopped using it because it's expensive. I envy Sprint customers who get to use this very same app for free (Sprint Navigation by Telenav).
    c. Gokivo - IIRC, this was the first fully-featured turn by turn navigation app for the iPhone that was released a day or two after 3.0 was released. This is the sister app to VZ Navigator (both are made by NIM). Like the other apps in this category, up to date maps are continuously streamed live. Gokivo worked well when I first tried it but I'm not sure how it fares today. You get the first 30 days free and after that, you pay as you use it (for 30 days) or you can make a 1-year purchase. I don't have the figures right now, but it used to be $10 a month like AT&T Navigator.
    d. MotionX GPS - I have never used this app, but people RAVE about it. It's currently scoring 4/5 stars in the App Store. You get the first 30 days free and after that, you can pay on a 30-day (per use) basis or a 1-year purchase. Again, I haven't used it, but other iPhone users seem to love everything about this app.
    e. MapQuest 4 Mobile - This little gem is one of my favorite new apps. It's a FREE turn by turn GPS navigation app which is similar in vein to Google Navigation. It's neither as robust nor as polished as Google's app and the routing can be a little wonky at times, but it gets the job done. Also, MapQuest seems fullly committed to updating/improving the app - so the future looks bright for MQ 4 Mobile. Until Google Maps Navigation comes to the iPhone, this is the next best thing.
    f. Waze - This is an interesting app. I had it for about a week, then deleted it because I liked MapQuest better. Waze is a FREE GPS app (like MapQuest) that combines "game" and "social networking" elements with basic turn by turn navigation. It's also dependent on the active participation of the Waze user community to keep the app updated and supported. For my tastes, I prefer MapQuest, Garmin, or TomTom.

    So in summary, there are many, many different kinds of GPS apps available for iPhone users. My personal favorites? If you want preloaded maps stored on your iPhone, you have to go with either TomTom or Navigon. If you want to save space on your iPhone for games, video, music, etc, and don't mind maps that are streamed live over the air, Garmin Streetpilot and MapQuest are the best, although I should mention MotionXGPS in this category as well, since so many seem to vouch for it. Actually now that I think about it, AT&T Navigator is also excellent but it's also pricey.

    I think I speak for a lot of folks when I say that the final GPS app that I would love to see on the iPhone is Google Maps Navigation. I have nothing to base this on, but I have this feeling or this "hunch" that it will finally come to the iPhone either this year or next year. Two years ago, it appeared that Garmin would never come to the iPhone yet here it is. The same could be said of other major Google apps (Voice, Latitude, etc.) that we never thought would we'd see on the iPhone, and yet, here they are now. So I would never say "never" when talking about seeing Google Navigation on the iPhone. It's gotta happen sooner or later. Here's hoping Google and Apple finally make it happen....

    ______________
    My past review of Navigon when it first came out... (NOTE: it's pretty old so some of the info is outdated) - it also contains links to my past reviews of other GPS apps (also outdated).

    GPS MINI-REVIEW: Navigon North America - MacRumors Forums
    Last edited by Tunnelrunner; 02-07-2011 at 07:39 PM.
    02-07-2011 07:11 PM
  2. imwjl's Avatar
    Thank you.

    I wonder if no navigation from Google is because their navigation and it's calendar integration are far better thus, a reason go use the Android.

    My initial impression of waze is much better than for MapQuest because waze did not crash and it had better routing than MapQuest. MapQuest had stupid diversions from the obvious best routes in my small city and waze showed the obvious route and alternatives. MapQuest's labeling will move upside down and is not dynamic where waze lets you see the other street names around you with ease.

    So far waze and the Google app are helping me give up my Android phone.

    Thanks again for your assessment of these apps.
    04-30-2011 03:47 PM
  3. shimojunk's Avatar
    Thanks for the time for a nicely written review.

    I'll chime in and say that MapQuest is my new default navigation app. I used it for a week when I was in the Bay Area in California and in San Francisco and although it sometimes gave me illogical directions (making U turns etc), I never got lost in SF, which is saying a lot since SF's streets are a nightmare to navigate. It makes me think "how the heck did people get around a unfamiliar city without navi! Thomas Guides anyone?"

    My complaints about MQ are it would occasionally announce that "GPS is inaccurate" probably do to a sketchy GPS signal, but it would always reconnect 30 seconds or so later. Also I had the app crash a few times, but nothing major. I wish there was a way to replace MQ with Googlemaps as the default navi system. I often find myself Yelping businesses, copying the address, opening MQ and pasting the Yelp address to get navi directions. It works, but is a little cumbersome.
    05-02-2011 01:06 PM
  4. imwjl's Avatar
    Thanks for the time for a nicely written review.

    I'll chime in and say that MapQuest is my new default navigation app. I used it for a week when I was in the Bay Area in California and in San Francisco and although it sometimes gave me illogical directions (making U turns etc), I never got lost in SF, which is saying a lot since SF's streets are a nightmare to navigate. It makes me think "how the heck did people get around a unfamiliar city without navi! Thomas Guides anyone?"

    My complaints about MQ are it would occasionally announce that "GPS is inaccurate" probably do to a sketchy GPS signal, but it would always reconnect 30 seconds or so later. Also I had the app crash a few times, but nothing major. I wish there was a way to replace MQ with Googlemaps as the default navi system. I often find myself Yelping businesses, copying the address, opening MQ and pasting the Yelp address to get navi directions. It works, but is a little cumbersome.
    I suggest trying waze to solve the MapQuest crashes but look into it enough to realize it's a different animal via the community data aspect. Also realize that it's about navigation and not finding places to eat or gas stations.
    05-04-2011 08:13 AM
  5. ajonesma's Avatar
    Question though, if your using a GPS does that use your 3G or is it just GPS signal its using?
    05-04-2011 08:36 AM
  6. briankeith513's Avatar
    The problem for me is that Mapquest Navigator's search function sucks badly. When I want to search for some place, often times, it won't show up at all. For example, if I search for Publix, it may only show me one in my area, although there may be 8 of them. Or other times, it will show me a Publix that is 15 min away, instead of the ones that are 3 or 5 miles away. This same function works flawlessly in Google Maps and Telenav. I went into an Apple store to talk to a rep who has originally suggested Mapquest to me, and he told me that he searches for the location in Google Maps, then copy and pastes it to Mapquest Navigator lmao.


    Sent from my iPad 2 using Tapatalk
    05-04-2011 10:41 AM
  7. imwjl's Avatar
    The problem for me is that Mapquest Navigator's search function sucks badly. When I want to search for some place, often times, it won't show up at all. For example, if I search for Publix, it may only show me one in my area, although there may be 8 of them. Or other times, it will show me a Publix that is 15 min away, instead of the ones that are 3 or 5 miles away. This same function works flawlessly in Google Maps and Telenav. I went into an Apple store to talk to a rep who has originally suggested Mapquest to me, and he told me that he searches for the location in Google Maps, then copy and pastes it to Mapquest Navigator lmao.


    Sent from my iPad 2 using Tapatalk
    I will add that I noticed the waze using Google search did a better job than MapQuest in my trials.
    05-04-2011 12:36 PM
  8. shimojunk's Avatar
    The problem for me is that Mapquest Navigator's search function sucks badly. When I want to search for some place, often times, it won't show up at all. For example, if I search for Publix, it may only show me one in my area, although there may be 8 of them. Or other times, it will show me a Publix that is 15 min away, instead of the ones that are 3 or 5 miles away. This same function works flawlessly in Google Maps and Telenav. I went into an Apple store to talk to a rep who has originally suggested Mapquest to me, and he told me that he searches for the location in Google Maps, then copy and pastes it to Mapquest Navigator lmao.


    Sent from my iPad 2 using Tapatalk
    What I do is Yelp the place I'm looking for then copy the address into Mapquest. Of course Yelp doesn't have everything obviously and it's cumbersome to use two apps but it works for me.
    05-04-2011 02:11 PM
  9. takeshi's Avatar
    Question though, if your using a GPS does that use your 3G or is it just GPS signal its using?
    This applies to all smartphones:

    The GPS receiver only relies on GPS satellites* to determine your location. The GPS receiver only provides latitude and longitude (and altitude). Everything else comes from your GPS app.

    Whether or not your GPS app requires data depends on the specific app you're talking about. Some do, some don't.

    *There's a bit more to it when you start adding in aGPS but that's not really germane to this thread.


    As has been noted before, Google Maps Navigation works great as long as there's a data connection. With AT&T, that can be a problem. With Verizon, it might not be an issue.
    Be careful with broad, sweeping generalizations. I relied on Google Maps Navigation on my Droid for over 3,000 miles on a recent road trip. FWIW, I've logged a total of more than 10,000 miles with Google Maps Nav. It performed flawlessly except for part of Kentucky where Verizon had no data coverage along the interstate. I switched to the Blackberry 8310 from work for that part of the trip as at&t did have data coverage.

    General discussions regarding coverage are really fairly pointless. Every carrier has coverage holes -- even Verizon.

    Either way, I've always believed that GPS apps that preload the maps onboard were superior to apps that stream their maps live over the air (like Google Maps Navigation) - the maps seem to scroll more smoothly with less of a "lag," better tracking, etc.
    ...and be careful with highly subjective words such as "superior". If you're frequently in areas with no coverage, traveling internationally (where data roaming rates are very expensive) or just prefer locally stored maps then locally stored maps are a plus. If you're always in areas with coverage or have intermittent coverage and your GPS app caches data (like Google Maps Nav) then locally stored maps may or may not be a plus. It's not a one-size-fits-all situation and each person needs to assess needs/wants.

    Google Maps Nav has always scrolled smoothly on my Droid and Telenav (also used for several thousand miles) has always scrolled smoothly on my Blackberries. Yet again, watch the broad, sweeping generalizations.

    If you go with the apps that stream data live, you will obviously save memory but you will also have to pay some sort of fee (yearly, monthly, or per-use) to use it.
    Incorrect. There are free streaming apps. You even mention at least one in your own post (?!?!).
    Last edited by briareus; 05-05-2011 at 07:11 PM.
    05-05-2011 06:55 PM
  10. kch50428's Avatar
    If you're frequently in areas with no coverage, traveling internationally (where data roaming rates are very expensive) or just prefer locally stored maps then locally stored maps are a plus. If you're always in areas with coverage or have intermittent coverage and your GPS app caches data (like Google Maps Nav) then locally stored maps may or may not be a plus. It's not a one-size-fits-all situation and each person needs to assess needs/wants.
    When you lose data for whatever reason, and run out of cached map data - you're screwed. With a full map stored, you're not. Seems rather obvious to me which is the better way to go.
    05-05-2011 07:19 PM
  11. imwjl's Avatar

    General discussions regarding coverage are really fairly pointless. Every carrier has coverage holes -- even Verizon.
    It's not pointless to consider coverage when you know it weighs on the user's satisfaction and ability to function.

    You can examine coverage maps and see some carriers offer high speed data where others do not.

    We support companies with staff all over and have seen the high speed data coverage makes a big difference with user satisfaction and even being able to do their work.

    Of course all firms have areas with poor or no coverage but looking at the type of coverage where you will spend most time can make a big difference.
    05-06-2011 10:38 AM
  12. takeshi's Avatar
    It is completely pointless as there's no way to truly verify real world coverage when comparing a carrier to another carrier on a nationwide basis. Yes, it does affect the user's satisfaction. That's why each person needs to assess real world coverage. Coverage maps are not accurate. They're a handy starting point and that's it. I've lived in several locations where coverage maps indicated "good" or better coverage while I had no usable signal outdoors.

    Carriers give you an initial period to cancel without ETF. That's your real world coverage test right there.

    Anyone claiming that one carrier's coverage is "superior" to another is either with that carrier's marketing or a fanboy. Superior is a highly subjective word. In any case, this is deviating off topic.

    When you lose data for whatever reason, and run out of cached map data - you're screwed. With a full map stored, you're not. Seems rather obvious to me which is the better way to go.
    Again, better is always highly subjective regardless of the topic. If you prefer to guarantee that you won't run out of cached data then go with local map data. Not everyone has that as a top priority. Don't assume that your preferences are everyone else's. Countless Android users obviously consider that Google Maps Nav's price is worth dealing with the limitations of cached map data. Even some iOS users are willing to accept the tradeoff that comes with streaming map data.

    I'm not arguing that you didn't use the proper selection criteria for yourself. I'm arguing that you can't blindly state that one option is always better for everyone over another option. That's just self-centered and ignorant though it's also seems to be extremely common on every discussion forum site out there.
    Last edited by briareus; 05-07-2011 at 11:26 AM.
    05-07-2011 11:14 AM
  13. kch50428's Avatar
    I'm not arguing that you didn't use the proper selection criteria for yourself. I'm arguing that you can't blindly state that one option is always better for everyone over another option. That's just self-centered and ignorant though it's also seems to be extremely common on every discussion forum site out there.
    Don't assume that your preferences are everyone else's. Excellent advice. Try it yourself.

    Speaking of self centered and ignorant... how about you coming in and proclaiming that people who do what they do that doesn't comport to what you think is right are being self centerd and ignorant... smh... mine is not the only way - and neither is yours. Someday, when you descend from your ivory tower, and dismount that high horse, you might see what goes on in the real world. The one where a GPS app that requires a data connection is utterly useless because you've lost that data connection and run out of cached data...and someone may actually prefer an app with full, stored map data as I do. smh some more.
    Last edited by kch50428; 05-07-2011 at 01:28 PM.
    05-07-2011 01:17 PM
  14. imwjl's Avatar
    It is completely pointless as there's no way to truly verify real world coverage when comparing a carrier to another carrier on a nationwide basis. Yes, it does affect the user's satisfaction. That's why each person needs to assess real world coverage. Coverage maps are not accurate. They're a handy starting point and that's it. I've lived in several locations where coverage maps indicated "good" or better coverage while I had no usable signal outdoors.

    Carriers give you an initial period to cancel without ETF. That's your real world coverage test right there.

    Anyone claiming that one carrier's coverage is "superior" to another is either with that carrier's marketing or a fanboy. Superior is a highly subjective word. In any case, this is deviating off topic.


    Again, better is always highly subjective regardless of the topic. If you prefer to guarantee that you won't run out of cached data then go with local map data. Not everyone has that as a top priority. Don't assume that your preferences are everyone else's. Countless Android users obviously consider that Google Maps Nav's price is worth dealing with the limitations of cached map data. Even some iOS users are willing to accept the tradeoff that comes with streaming map data.

    I'm not arguing that you didn't use the proper selection criteria for yourself. I'm arguing that you can't blindly state that one option is always better for everyone over another option. That's just self-centered and ignorant though it's also seems to be extremely common on every discussion forum site out there.
    It's not pointless to look at maps and coverage but it's true that it does not equal real world results. My associates and I have many (1300+ at one site) mobile users and we know painfully well not to choose a carrier that isn't showing any 3G coverage in an area where another carrier does. Same wisdom would help an individual without an IT department taking care of them.

    It is not absurd to claim that a carrier's coverage is better for somebody's use or that it means they're marketing for a carrier. It was as obvious for my family as it is for some of our customers even though our family didn't log issues with same detail as we do professionally.

    Getting it right when possible and can keep people happy and costs down.

    Now there are carrier choices for iPhone and why not offer tips that could help people choose what's best for them and tips that might spare some frustration. At first I had users who wanted iPhone bad enough to suffer. Now we can tell a users that carrier may not make a big difference or point out that they will get most from their iPhone if they choose the carrier with more high speed data coverage for their regular travels.
    05-07-2011 01:40 PM
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