The iPhone has Maps, which is powered by Google, built in to the iOS. Pre-loaded to the iOS, but it requires Internet or Data Connection. Which is fine if you are in your own home turf, where you don’t need to worry about Internet Connection through your Wireless Provider, not especially if you are traveling. Although you might not need GPS Navigation where you are going, most likely you’ll be with the Tour Group, or be around the area of your hotel, or there are Taxi around to take you to places. However, there are occasions where you wonder where places are, how the location is, is it within a walking distance, or if you want to plan your day around a place where you will be at, you need to know what’s the surrounding. You can use GPS Navigation without the need of an Internet, all your maps pre-loaded into the application so all of the POI are searchable quickly.
There are a few GPS Navigation out there, if you are traveling to the US, the one I use is Navigon 2.0 (iTunes Link), it has an up to date POI, navigating is easy, even before the turn that leads you on, it would tell you ahead of time when you need to merge out of the lanes to get into a different highway or freeway. It has big arrows to lead you to the right direction, the voice navigating you is soothing, understandable, and loud. Navigon has an in-app purchase, where you can get Live Traffic for under $20, then there’s the Panorama View 3D for under $10, and although I haven’t purchased any of the in-app, the Live Traffic would be something I would consider getting so it can re-route if there’s traffic in my route plan. The Navigon is a Universal app, so you can use your iPad 2 3G (Since the 3G Version has more accurate GPS hardware), and on the iPhone. I use it more on the iPhone because I have the holder from Pro Clip USA in my car, and navigating with the iPad while driving is just impractical and too big, especially at night, it’s just too much.
Navigon is also available for Western Europe, however, with their latest update and the latest acquisition by Garmin, the updates will cost you $20 for a map refresh. It was good while it lasted, but since every GPS out there charges for an updated maps, Navigon would only follow suit, since it’s pretty standard across the navigation software company that Navigon us which is by NAVTEQ.
If you are traveling to the Asian countries, there are an offline GPS app like Papago, or Sygic. Depending on where you go, the app is one per country, unless if you purchase Sygic South East Asia. So if you are going to Singapore, you have to buy an app for Singapore. Papago is available for Singapore and Malaysia in one app is called Papago Singapore + Malaysia (iTunes Link). Papago is only for the iPhone, and I tried using it on the iPad 3G, it crashes a lot, even for iPad 2 3G. There are also Papago app for Taiwan, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, and China and Hong Kong in Pinyin characters. There is also lite version of their App if you would like the cheaper version of their Mapping Software. The other alternative for South East Asia would be Sygic at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sygic-southeast-asia-gps-navigation/id319359565?mt=8 (iTunes Link)
For the European part of the country, there’s TomTom Western Europe (iTunes Link). The reason I recommend TomTom is because TomTom is an actual European company for a long time, long before Navigon, even though Navigon is bought by Garmin and is a German Company. TomTom started in Europe as well, Netherlands to be exact, and I find their POI database to be extensive and complete. I’ve been a fan of TomTom, I’ve used it on my Windows Phone back in the day. It was decent back then, and it does it’s job for me whenever I go to Europe. TomTom also got the US version (iTunes Link), as well as Mexico, Brazil, and Middle East.
The prices of these navigation app change often, so I suggest checking on the link for the current price. If you are lucky, you can get these apps cheap before your next vacation.
Out of the three apps I’ve used, the ones I recommend is TomTom for both U.S & Canada or for $10 cheaper, just get the U.S maps, that’s what I did. I rarely go to Canada. For Asia, I use Papago, extensively, and it’s better than the ones out there for Asian country. For Europe, well, for now, TomTom. You do need a subscription for TomTom, but at least you can use it offline, rather than relying on the data connection to get directions.
What is the point of this post? I mean, it’s not like there’s a good review on Navigon or TomTom, since they are either subscription base or pay to get a map refresh. They have to make money some how, and if you are used to the old days of paying for either subscription, such as back in the day there was AT&T Telenav, or Garmin Nuvi maps update (which was expensive update yearly), so it’s pretty standard for those business model to come back for us consumer.
Having a GPS Navigation map on your iPhone is an advantage, since I don’t have to carry more than one device with me. If I needed direction, I just pull up the iPhone and run the program, set the destination and go. So it’s convenient, and since data connection is not needed, I can run the program in the Jungle and still get a direction.
The offline map direction is perfect for me when traveling across Western Europe. Whenever I go on vacation to Western Europe, I always end up in Germany first. From there, we plan our route, by car, to travel to Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands, and U.K. It’s essential when traveling across Europe to have the maps clear and big because if you are traveling on the Toll Ways across Europe and you miss the merge to go to, let say Paris, well, the U-Turn will be miles and miles away. The Toll Ways isn’t like in the U.S, where there are exit every half to a mile across the I-5 from San Francisco to Los Angeles for example.