Traditional printed road maps have been gradually replaced by Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation systems over the last few years. The majority of these GPS-enabled systems have been on standalone navigation units, but recently, smartphones with GPS capability and downloadable applications have become popular.
GPS apps - what's the fuss?
So why would an iPhone user pay to download a GPS app when Google Maps is already installed on their phone?
One reason is that the downloaded apps can work independently of the Internet. These apps use the preinstalled map on the phone to display your location and do not necessarily need to rely on the GPS network of satellites orbiting the earth to direct you to your destination. In contrast, with Google maps, your map is not pre-installed and you would have to rely on your Internet data connection to identify your real-time location to get you to your destination.
GPS navigation apps can also make driving to a new destination a more pleasant and safe experience. With so many apps out there to choose from, here's information on some of the top GPS iPhone apps in Australia.
As a GPS device manufacturer firsti, TomTom has integrated their navigation technology into their GPS app for iPhone ($64.99 from the App Store). The latest version (version 1.9) comes with Speed Cameras which lets you know where mobile and fixed speed cameras are located along your route. The TomTom App gives you a precise arrival time according to actual traffic conditions using its IQ Routes technology. Additionally, routes can be created with up to five stops along the way so that you can pick up a friend or select your rest stops without having to plan each part of the journey separately. Even if you are on the phone or have music playing through the iPhone it will continue to instruct you. From the in-app store you can purchase fun navigation voices such as 'Yoda' or 'Bert and Ernie' as extras. This app is also iPad compatible.
This app comes from an American company which has expanded its range of maps to include Australia and New Zealand. The CoPilot uses NAVTEQ maps of Australia and NZ and includes Points of Interest (POIs). You can select multiple stops along your route and the app will warn you if you are exceeding the speed limit. This app gives you turn-by-turn directions and uses text-to-speech technology, complete with full street names. Users are given up to three alternative routes to your destination and you can view your route on the screen in 2D, 3D or as a list of directions. Additional features include live weather forecasts and the option to share your locations on Facebook and Twitter. This app for your iPhone costs $32.99 from the App Store.
Metroview comes from an Australian developer and the spoken voice control for turn instructions and street names is "Australian accented". Regularly updated maps are stored in the app so that there are no added data costs from downloads. What's more, the app gives lane guidance and includes a cautious SpeedAlert feature, telling you speed limits and alerting you of school zones. This app has an extensive list of POIs and you can also search for destinations with Google Local. With all this plus multi-tasking support, a basic boating mode and compass function, this app has a lot to offer for only $14.99 (from the App Store).
This app uses Whereis maps for both Australia and New Zealand which can be updated for free and used offline. Sygic GPS app for iPhone has spoken turn-by-turn navigation, lane guidance, speed camera and speed limit warnings, and school zone limits when in session. You can edit your route to include stops, look at POIs along the way and save your favourite travelled routes so that you can use them again. Like the CoPilot, this app also enables you to post on Facebook and Twitter. This app costs $24.99.
The days of flicking back and forth through a thick atlas at the side of the road are numbered. Improvements to GPS navigation has allowed drivers to be more focused on the road and the extra features that go along with apps can take the stress out of driving to a new destination.