Turn-by-Turn Voice GPS navigation for the iPhone and iPad

Written by Gary on June 2nd, 2011

The iPhone and iPad come with a Google Maps app but this does not store maps on the phone and thus is almost useless if you have no internet connection, and does not currently have turn-by-turn voice navigation.

What one needs is a user friendly, reliable app which works even when there is no internet connection – ie. the maps are all inside the device and you just need to use the device’s GPS capabilities to make it work.

The Samsung Galaxy has this built in, but not so with the iPhone, but you can buy apps which will do this for you, and do it quite well – although as with all such devices, having the screen on will run your battery down (perhaps within 1 hour of use) unless you have it plugged into a car charger (you will need a 2 amp USB charger for the power hungry iPad).

Once you have bought the app for the iPhone, you can also download it for free on other iPhones/iPads on your same Apple iTunes account which does make it a very cheap option indeed.

A big difference compared to my older Nokia phone which took 15 minutes to initialise your GPS position, these devices use network information and A-GPS technology and you get almost instantaneous initialisation of your GPS position – very nice indeed!

The 2 main leaders in turn-by-turn voice GPS navigation for the iPhone are Tom Tom and Navigon – both have very good products, although their Australian price of $A89 is a bit pricey compared with $A59 for their US app, but with Tom Tom, you do get the option to buy those gimmicky voices such as Homer Simpson, Darth Vader, etc.

In Australia, I have discovered another option which seems to work very well, and is an Australian made app and very cheap at under $A20 – the MetroView.

I have been trying out the MetroView in metropolitan Melbourne and it has worked quite well thus far:

  • you can turn the display off and just listen to commands and this will consume battery at a slower rate – mine dropped 6% on the battery meter in 1 hour use.
  • currently there are 2 voices – both with Aussie accents – one male and one female.
  • the phone makes a noise when speed limit changes and it seemed quite accurate, including 40kph school zones, and alert you when you exceed speed limits.
  • it will make a camera click sound when approaching known speed camera or red light camera sites, although it seemed to find a lot more than actually were present.
  • unlike my old Nokia GPS, you don’t get the “take the 1st exit at the roundabout” but instead “turn left into xxx street at the roundabout” – it will take a bit of getting used to this change.
  • the estimated time of arrival is fairly good but it seems a bit optimistic even when traffic is light.
  • it did advise me to go through residential streets with 20kph speed humps all the way to make a short cut but mostly the routes were very sensible.
  • I would recommend it, and if you decide you don’t like it, well, you haven’t wasted too much money!

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