Joined: 11/07/2002 14:36:40 Posts: 23699 Location: Hampshire, UK
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:32 pm Post subject: Discussion: Are free nav apps killing satnav?
With Google's free navigation app proving popular on Android smartphones and Apple's imminent announcement of the iPhone 5 and iOS6 which adds Apple's own bundled navigation solution, satnav manufacturers are suffering from a sharp downturn in sales.
But are these bundled solutions, and I ought not forget that Windows Mobile has its own bundled navigation app on Nokia handsets, any good? Can they replace a paid-for navigation app, or a satnav device for every use case?
Read the forums here and elsewhere and the verdict is far from conclusive. Some swear by Google's navigation app, others hate it. We'd love to hear your feedback, particularly if you've used PND's and paid for apps. Good or bad? Better than nothing or as good as the paid for solutions? Would you trust a free app to navigate you on holiday and if not why?
There's no right or wrong answer, but it would make for an interesting discussion.
I used my TomTom device in the car and took it with me when I parked up. Used it many times on foot to find customer's offices. When I got an iphone with probably just as good GPS built-in, I decided that when it came to replacing the TT, I'd buy an app because I was fed up carrying two devices around which could do the same job. My TT died and at first I tried some free or ridiculously cheap apps. First impression was good and I'd say they're good for anyone who uses them casually, just at weekends, holiday drives, etc.
For anyone who drives on a regular basis, I'd say they need additional features like a decent traffic service which I have yet to find on a cheap app.
I am keeping the Satnav 2 app (skobbler) because for less than £10 I have world maps, excellent for when you get to your destination and finding your way around on foot when it's not so critical knowing road conditions.
Via work, I have both iPhones and a Galaxy Nexus phone, and I have a TomTom 740 Live PND.
I have used various satnav apps on the iPhone, and they work competently, though typically they have older maps.
I ran the Nexus alongside the TomTom PND to see if it would be a good alternative, and it is frankly poor. The UI was more interested in making the maps swish in a cool way than worrying about whether what was on screen was useful to the driver. At points, the current location and junction I was at would be "off the bottom of the screen", which isn't so handy. I also found that if the phone went to sleep, tapping it to wake it up would switch to "map view" which then stopped it updating the current location. Being able to look around where you are is handy, but it is too easy to start, and then you wonder why it isn't looking like where you are. Having to then tap an icon to put it back to navigation mode was not something I felt was safe. Finally, traffic info is available, but (I presume because of licencing), you cannot see it in navigation mode. Thus it is only really useful when static, like when in traffic.
The iPhone TomTom app is okay, but it has the same distance limits on the traffic information that they impose on the PNDs, and the display is harder to tap your way through to see the whole journey - no at a glance view. But competent.
All phones suffer the problem of being multi-function devices, so a call, or selecting music, will lose the display.
My feeling is that the casual driver will get by just fine with a phone based satnav. But anyone who cares about the quality of experience, or that they are being informed about traffic constantly, or wanting to know the driving info at a glance, will be better off with a PND. The market for them will dwindle, but it will be there a long time yet I think.
Joined: 11/07/2002 14:36:40 Posts: 23699 Location: Hampshire, UK
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:25 pm Post subject:
I confess I have a personal dislike of off-board navigation apps which colours my opinions.
I have an unlimited data contract on my work and personal phones so the worry of data cost isn't an issue but on the occasions I have had to use Google Nav I've either had issues with local data that meant I couldn't load a map or I was abroad.
I know I can cache maps on Android but that assumes pre-planning. On the last occasion I had my Galaxy SII and hadn't needed nav. But when I realised I would need to get some help of course I was in the sticks with barely a phone signal let alone data.
And it's not just Google. I have the iOS6 Beta and the navigation there is no better IMO.
So whilst I've happily switched from PND to smartphone for all my navigation usage, I still choose to use a fully fledged app, be that TomTom, Garmin, Navigon or whatever. I find the interfaces better, and the whole address input, routing, navigation experience better.
Every time I use Google's Nav app I get so frustrated with it that I risk throwing the phone out of the window. The interface seems designed to infuriate! _________________ Darren Griffin - Editor I ran the 2013 London Marathon in support of the National Autistic Society see here.
Joined: 15/07/2003 22:59:27 Posts: 880 Location: United Kingdom
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:40 pm Post subject:
I've tried moving to smartphone, even using a Samsung Galaxy Note with dedicated car device, Navigon, Co-Pilot and Sygic, etc. installed (oh, and the awful Google effort... have you seen how it instructs on roundabouts?)
All seem the main brands seem fine in your hand - but in practice fall down
1. When you have incoming calls
2. Maps not as up to date
3. Traffic doesn't live up to TT HD Traffic (bring on 6.0)
4. Routing is poor - even when I compared my dedicated Navigon unit against the Smartphone app (both latest maps, both live traffic) the Smartphone app failed to navigate as well
5. Screen reflection
6. Sound quality
7. Quality (ease?) of mount and charger
However, one app I am quite liking is the Nokia on Windows Phone - it really is quite impressive in every way, and when the Lumia 920 gets released, will give it a go - particularly if they launch a magnetic inductive charger for the car with it!
For now at least, unless you are a casual user, PNDs win hands down _________________ Navigon 92 Premium Live, TomTom 60 & 1000, Garmin 2545, 3790 & 2310, Mio Navman 689 & M610, Samsung Galaxy Note CoPilot Live, Route 66 & Sygic, Apple iPhone4 & iPad2 Navigon & Mio GPS Cradle
Joined: 11/07/2002 14:36:40 Posts: 23699 Location: Hampshire, UK
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:19 pm Post subject:
I tend to use TomTom on iPhone. Maps are as up to date as the PNDs (and updated free), HD Traffic is HD Traffic, routing is the same.
No issues with screen reflection, I stream audio via BT to the car so the audio is better than any PND and I have it all mounted in a Brodit cradle - simples. _________________ Darren Griffin - Editor I ran the 2013 London Marathon in support of the National Autistic Society see here.
Joined: 20/04/2003 11:51:10 Posts: 380 Location: Dorset, England, Great Britain
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:59 pm Post subject:
A bigger screen would be nice, 7" iPad size would be perfect
Tried my New iPad with Copilot, but where can it go, mine sits on the passengers seat in my Caddy van...Nice and clear though _________________ Stuart™
Apple iPhone 4 with Navionics Marine (UK-Holland)
The New iPad
Garmin Nuvi 765T
Audi S3 Sportback Quattro with Nav+
Joined: Apr 14, 2010 Posts: 1003 Location: West London, UK
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:23 pm Post subject:
I'd vote for a bigger screen as well, but then I remember the occasional references to 'heads up' displays - that seems the ideal. _________________ Mike R [aka Wyvern46]
Go 550 Live
One XLT WE
A bigger screen is not always a major benefit as particulaly on Android programs do not take the advantage of the larger screen, i am running both Sygic and Navigon on a 10.1 inch tablet, The sygic text is large and fine wereas the Navigon text is no bigger than my 4.3 inch screen on my Desire Hd or my 3.5 Pda, personally i find Sygic on the desire more than adequate for Navigation although it does lack some of the additional features of TomTom 7 on my PDA which i still prefer although the maps are so out of date now, perhaps i am raising my expections too high on the futuer TomTom Android release?.
It seems that quite a lot of Android programs dont allow for the advantages of a larger screen.
Edit to add: after over a year and change of car i still have not found a spot on my dash for my 10.1 inch tablet. _________________ Asus a696 Win6, TTN7.450, UK725.1871
HTC Desire HD Sygic 12.2.2,TT 1.1
Acer Iconia A500, Sygic 12.2.2
When I brought my car is had built in satnav. I have to admit that while it is unreasonably expensive for map updates, it is possible the best experience I have had driving. No extra things on the windscreen that I need to remove when I leave the car. No trailing leads to power said device. If phone rings (via bluetooth) navigation carries on. A display designed for car use.
I have copilot on my Android phone and it was okay, as competent as my TomTom 510 (yes it is still going!). However that is where I hit the problem with phones and satnav - they kill battery life. Even plugged into the car the battery gets drained, just slower then without. Google maps has one weakness for me, live data connection. For a first world country the UK has shockingly poor data coverage and ridiculous usage limits that will stop most being able to use online services for any real use. Until data becomes as cheap as it should be PND's will have use.
The navigation is 100% Garmin, and great. I love my A10...
The time I had problems with it because of a corrupted map file, I tried Google Navigator, and it was shameful. I decided to radically deviate from the route to work, to test it, and it became aware of the fact only when I was almost at the office...
Hopefully in a few months the agreement between Garmin and ASUS after the dissolution of their joint venture will end, and Garmin will be able to put their navigation system on other Android phones, as the A10 is getting a bit old, and is stuck with Eclair.
Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:37 am Post subject: dedicated apps will probbably replace pnd
I have never had a pnd. Why would i want to have something like that? My HP hx4700 worked very welll with two updates of tomtom, which i fhen transferred to my HTC HD2. Tomtom then abandoned us and would not even update the maps.
Many app trials led me to nearly buy a pnd, as the apps were inadequate, then i found sygic mobile maps, and my decision to stick with my phone was confirmed. I still use it more than google maps. The on line solutions are no use when the signal is weak, which it often is.
I will NOT use my mobile handheld in the car so have an rSAP system in-builf. It means i can easily use sygic whilst making or receiving calls. I cannot use anything online (such as traffic or google maps) becausde my phone has handed over that capability to the car.I'm not convinced traffic is there yet, and in any event the uk major routes have few sensible alternatives.
On my Nexus 7, on the face of it, gmaps is great with offline maps. But you need on line to get the routing. You need on line to get traffic or change your route. The Nexus does not have that - i would be interested to know if it does when tethered, but it cannot see my HD2. Anghow, as i said already, phone signals while travelling are a very long way from being ubiquitous. Losing a signal juhst when things get difficult is not the way to go.
When choosing my car i asked several garages about in car satnav. none could tell me how much an update disk would cost, as they had never been asked for one.. They all said that satnav would not increase the trade in value when i sold the car. So second hand you probably get 5 year old maps and an outdated system so you cannot even get updates. Remember navigation without lane assist as you approach a junction? If you only use gmaps, you don 't know what you're missing.
If a pnd had regularly uodated maps that were up to date, so that they showed accurate current maps, and prehaps even had future roads that were date enabled for the proposed opening dates, they might have a resurgence. OS maps have that several years ahead. The limitations of a map that is t best 2 years old, and that still showed a track as a road when it has not been a road since the middle ages are amongst the reasons for uninstalling some of the big name apps i tried.
PNDs could be a hands free for the car, overcoming the problems of cutting out the navugation while using the phone, but they cannot mute the radio so a dedicated in car phone system is better. Apps could be phone aware so that they allow you to answer the phone in the background. If you need to be staring at the phone when calling, you should have pulled over.
Roadster is right about battery life, but my wife's tomtom go is worse unless plugged in. He has it spot on with signal coverage. _________________ Nexus 4 (was HD2) and Sygic Mobile Maps. TT became compatible too late. CPL8 has odd routes and POIs in wrong places. Navigon has odd routes & speeds. Nexus 7 since sept12
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