1. cjvitek's Avatar
    Mobile Maps US, by Sygic
    ***, $39.99 (currently on sale)


    Pros:
    • Includes nice routing options
    • Can avoid upcoming route segments
    • Nice interface and customization options


    Cons
    • No contact integration
    • Maps out of date
    • Sometimes route choices are questionable


    In the interest of full disclosure, I received a promo code for this app.

    In the turn by turn wars, Sygic has entered the fray with their Mobile Maps US. They also have versions for a number of other countries. Like all turn by turn apps, this one allows you to create navigation routes, utilize points of interest (POI), and assists in the actual driving of the route by giving you turn-by-turn directions. So how does it compare? Read on to find out.

    First thing I want to say is I love the interface. Probably this was my favorite of all four apps I have tested so far. The buttons are clear and large, meaning they are easy to read and easy to selection. The options make sense (such as route, settings, navigate to). I never found myself trying to figure out what button I needed to hit.

    The routing overview options are great you can see the instructions, see the route as images, see a summary, see a demo of the route, and even show a large map with your route. Likewise, when choosing a navigation point, there are a number of clear options point on a map, GPS position, city center, address, POI, etc. Unfortunately there is no integration with your iPhone contacts something that I would consider almost essential for any turn by turn GPS app.

    When creating a route, you have some nice options I havent seen in some of the other apps. You can choose shortest and fastest (pretty standard), but you can also choose economical, pedestrian, and bicycle. Unfortunately you need to choose these in the settings, and cant adjust them on a trip by trip basis. You do have the option of requesting an alternate route once your route is created, but it will still use your existing preferences. You can also choose to add an intermediate point (travel via) if you want to go by a specific city or town. You can also choose to avoid an upcoming segment (the next mile, the next mile, etc). Unfortunately, you cant do this in advance to avoid a specific segment of the trip, it only avoids the next immediate segment. Lastly, you can choose to avoid traffic delays, but I am not sure if this downloads actual traffic data, or bases it on travelling through a city center (or historical traffic data). I tried it a couple of times, but didnt find any change in my planned route.

    When driving, you can have a speed warning option turned on, that will warn you when you are going over a speed limit by a user-defined amount. There is supposed to be an audible warning, but I never heard one. In addition, the speed limits seemed somewhat variable sometimes they were accurate, sometimes they were wrong, and sometimes they were missing. You have the option of defining some of the data that appears on the screen ETA, distance remaining, speed, time remaining, etc. I like this a lot because it enables everyone to choose what information they would find most valuable. The driving interface is nice, pretty standard with views like night time view, and it can be viewed in landscape mode as well. The turn by turn directions are good, although it doesnt read the street names (it does read highway route numbers, though). The voice also includes little qualifiers like turn immediately if you need to make a quick turn following another turn. I find information like this helpful when driving. You can also see the POI on the map as you are driving (and can choose which icons you are able to see). Unfortunately, I couldnt find anyway within the app to disable the screen off function, so my screen kept turning off as I was driving.

    So those are some of the good features about the Sygic app. Unfortunately, there were two really big flaws that were glaring. The first is when it comes to routing options the routing options make no sense. Just like the other apps, I used this app to plan a route from Edinburg, TX to Terlingua, TX. A trip that I know is about 600 miles. I choose the shortest route, and it had me driving up THROUGH San Antonio adding about 100 miles to the trip. I tried to hit find alternate route, and it took me up through Fort Worthadding another 150 miles to the trip. So if I followed these directions, a 600 mile trip would have turned into a 700 or 850 mile trip. It was only after driving for about an hour on what I knew was the shortest route (or at least a shorter route) that the app finally gave me the instructions I wanted (which was calculated out to be shorter than the 700 miles it had suggested originally).

    In addition, if you go off route, rather than trying to calculate a new route based on your current location, it seems to try to only get you BACK on to the previous route. So this app was telling me, at various times, to take a u-turn, drive back another 15 miles to the point where I went off the planned route, then continue from there. If I cancelled that route and created another one, thats when it would then give me the best route from my current location.

    Lastly, the maps seem very out of date. One of the first things I noticed was that the map for my home town didnt have my street on it. Now, my street is fairly new (within the past 5 years) so maybe that was a simple mistake. But when I was planning my trip to Terlingua, TX, Terlingua didnt even come up as a town in Texas! So in addition to missing roads, the app is missing whole towns. This may not be a factor if you are living in a large metropolitan area, but if could be a concern if you are living somewhere less developed (or travelling somewhere like that).

    Driving around town I had no problems with this app. It seemed to have most of the POI that I was looking for (although the database was a little bit lacking). It also generally suggested reasonable routes to take (even if they werent the exact same ones I would have suggested). The real problems with this app came with the long distance travel.

    All in all, there are many things I like about this app, but in the end the two glaring problems prevented me from giving it a strong recommendation. This app may be fine if you live and travel only in large, well known areas. But if you plan to go to smaller towns or visit newer roads, you will have a hard time using this app. These facts, combined with a few other flaws (lack of contact integration, poor route planning) leads me to reduce the rating, despite the great user interface and some nice features and options I havent seen on other TBT apps. For $39.99, I would expect to get accurate maps and better routing instructions. Three out of five stars. (I welcome and will post any comments from the app programmers in response to this review)

    CONTEST: Sygic has generously given me two promo codes to give away for this app. One of them can be won by responding to this review. To be eligible, you must simply respond with a comment about this app. The comment can be a feature suggestion, a funny story about using it, a novel way this app could be used anything along those lines, not simply a I want to win type of comment. One entry per person, contest is only open to those people in the USA (due to promo code restrictions). Contest will be open until this Friday at 11:59pm central time. I will then randomly choose a winner from the entries.

    The second contest will be during the iPhone Blog live podcast tonight. During the pre-game show I will announce a phrase that pays, and my email address. You must email me that phrase to enter, one entry per person, only open to people in the USA. Once the pre-game podcast is over, the contest is over, so make sure you show up at least 10 minutes before the live podcast today!!

    (one of the images is taken from the Sygic app store page)
    Rating scale:

    * = 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.
    Last edited by cjvitek; 08-27-2009 at 09:20 AM.
    08-26-2009 04:07 PM
  2. big9erfan's Avatar
    Great review, this is an app I've had my eye on for a turn by turn solution, especially with other apps coming in in the $80+ mark.

    I can't believe that the Contact integration was left out of the app though, when that just seems like such an easy and obvious feature to require. I have the addresses of all my contacts in their requisite fields, I'd love to be able to pull up that list, tap one and go. Does copy and paste work for that at least? It's a hokey workaround, but at least a workaround.

    Have the developers mentioned any kind of future map updates it it will be yearly, semi-annually, quarterly, etc and if those updates would require an additional purchase?
    08-26-2009 04:40 PM
  3. cjvitek's Avatar
    They have indicated that contact integration will be added shortly.
    08-26-2009 04:45 PM
  4. ApexMI's Avatar
    Count me in the contest please...
    08-26-2009 09:36 PM
  5. cjvitek's Avatar
    Count me in the contest please...
    Please read the rules for the contest....
    08-26-2009 09:43 PM
  6. alokeprasad's Avatar
    As a suggestion for all iPhone navigation apps: Include controls for the iPod on the Navigation application screen, so that we don't have to exit the navigation app to skip tracks etc.

    The Navigon application will have this in its next update.
    08-26-2009 09:46 PM
  7. Jgittere's Avatar
    What do you know about Sygic as a company? Specifically, are they going to be around to update their maps (purchase updated maps from their provider), add features, etc.? I just wonder about all of the GPS apps and the companies behind them. Besides TomTom, are they just developers that have purchased the maps from a provider and may not be around in six - 12 months. I would like to get at least a year of use out of my $60 to $100 investment in a GPS app.

    Jennifer
    08-26-2009 09:47 PM
  8. cjvitek's Avatar
    I just received an email from Sygic - contact integration and text to speech (reading road names) are going to be in the next update.

    Jennifer - to answer your question - it doesn't really matter how long Sygic will be around, truthfully. Once you purchase the app, you can use it for as long as you like - 1 month, 1 year, 10 years. If Sygic folds (and I have no reason to think they will) the app will still work.


    Chris
    08-27-2009 09:21 AM
  9. Jgittere's Avatar
    I certainly understand that the app will keep working. Just thinking about updates to the features and maps.
    08-27-2009 10:07 AM
  10. Jeremy's Avatar
    The update will be available shortly and should address some of the apps currently lacking features and issues.

    "text-to-speech, i.e. voice guidance announcing the name of the next street or road in North America, Australia and New Zealand, the ability to choose addresses straight from iPhone contacts and navigate to them, smooth fading out of the music playback before the voice instructions, enhanced GPS lock, smoother position display when moving on the route. Also, the navigation will automatically resume after completion of phone call, without the need to tap the Accept' button anymore."
    08-27-2009 11:44 AM
  11. c0mpguru's Avatar
    This looks like a pretty good GPS app. I've had my eye on it for some time now, but haven't had the chance to get it. Glad the update will add some nice features and the I'm really happy that they will be adding text to speech. That will be a nice addition
    08-27-2009 12:06 PM
  12. Minhala's Avatar
    I would like to see the ability to send points of interest, addresses etc from the internet. I had a Dash gps unit for a short time and that was one of its best features. There was a browser plug-in, and while you were browsing the net you could send the address for the attraction you were reading about directly to the gps unit. It was great, you'd fire up the gps and the place you wanted to go was already loaded in. I missed that the most when I got rid of the Dash.
    08-27-2009 01:35 PM
  13. Joe McG's Avatar
    One suggested update is the addition of iPod controls. I use my iPhone as my primary means of music in the car so this is a must.

    Another would be to be able to download extra POI's based on categories.
    08-27-2009 02:19 PM
  14. ApexMI's Avatar
    The app sounds like it may be a very nice gps a version or two down the road. I like the price point compared to others. TomTom is just way too pricey
    08-27-2009 02:35 PM
  15. madmak's Avatar
    I am specifically interested in the battle of the cheapos (Cheap GPS alternatives) - Sygic, G-maps, X-GPS (free on jailbreak). How does the sygic offering compare?
    08-27-2009 03:42 PM
  16. cjvitek's Avatar
    Contest ends today! From the lack of entries, if you are interested you have a good chance to win a promo code!

    Chris
    08-28-2009 11:04 AM
  17. Minhala's Avatar
    I am keeping my fingers crossed! :-)
    08-28-2009 11:25 AM
  18. cjvitek's Avatar
    I am specifically interested in the battle of the cheapos (Cheap GPS alternatives) - Sygic, G-maps, X-GPS (free on jailbreak). How does the sygic offering compare?
    I have only reviewed Sygic, so I can't compare them.

    Chris
    08-28-2009 11:37 AM
  19. redbeard's Avatar
    From the reviews I've read it seems Sygic just might be the #1 GPS app out there, for the price, compared to apps like TomTom, I think it just might be.

    I like how it has features like the road sign warnings, and speeding/red light camera notifications.

    I know none of the GPS apps are perfect, they all seem to have their strengths and weaknesses, I happen to think Sygic could take the crown and implement my dream app idea. And that is to make a third option under day and night view, turn off the map screen, and use the camera with the arrow and orange route outline overlaying the camera feed. Instant augmented reality turn by turn GPS, would probably only work on the 3GS though, but could work on the 3G as well as long as you're moving, and it could just keep the last orientation heading when you come to a stop. I can hope..
    08-28-2009 01:05 PM
  20. ScottUrman's Avatar
    Having night mode is a great feature - xGPS has it, but I'm not sure of any of the other GPS apps which do. One other nice feature (which AT&T Navigator has) is the ability to call a phone number (or go online in advance) to enter an address, then it shows up in the favorites list.
    08-28-2009 01:29 PM
  21. cjvitek's Avatar
    Having night mode is a great feature - xGPS has it, but I'm not sure of any of the other GPS apps which do. One other nice feature (which AT&T Navigator has) is the ability to call a phone number (or go online in advance) to enter an address, then it shows up in the favorites list.
    Every app I have reviewed has a night mode.
    08-28-2009 02:03 PM
  22. cjvitek's Avatar
    I will pick a winner at random today, and post it here (as well as send a PM to them).
    08-29-2009 09:55 AM
  23. cjvitek's Avatar
    Congratulations, ScottUrman, you are the winner!

    As soon as I get the promo code from Sygic, I will PM it to you.

    Chris
    08-30-2009 10:58 AM
  24. cjvitek's Avatar
    Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, and thanks to Sygic for the promo codes!
    08-30-2009 11:00 AM
  25. big9erfan's Avatar
    I picked up this app after reading about it. The only issue I've had with it is dropping GPS signal, and tends to take 30 seconds or so to catch back up. I used it to plot my drive to work from my current address, and my soon to be ( 1 week...YIKES ) future address, and all the directions very quite sensible.

    I plotted a few trips to friends houses to see if it would recommend the same way I had taken before and it did, so I'm pretty pleased with it so far, minus the dropping of signal. I really like the ability to preview the route, it's slick
    08-31-2009 04:17 PM
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