Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sygic Expands App Capabilities With Update


Despite the fact that dedicated GPS units tend to outperform smartphones as far as actual GPS signals go, a majority of people utilize some form of smartphone GPS application instead of a dedicated unit. I can’t deny it’s more convenient, at the very least, as most people won’t leave the house with a smartphone in hand. But, if you’re using your smartphone for directions, then you have the conundrum of which GPS app to use and you haven’t got any shortage of choices.

One of the companies that we don’t talk about all that much is Sygic. Unlike the more common free alternatives, Sygic is both more expensive and arguably more accurate. Powered by TomTom maps, Sygic offers an experience that is more akin to a dedicated GPS unit than a smartphone. Recently the company added a slew of features that might just be enough for you Google Maps users to sit up and take notice. read more

Top Smartphone GPS Navigation Apps


Smartphones might not always be the most ideal option for GPS navigation, but there are times when it makes more sense. After all, no matter where you are, you probably have your smartphone on you, right? Well, while there are literally dozens to choose from, if you’re only going to use it some times then you probably don’t want something you have to pay for, right?

So, here are my top three picks for the best free smartphone navigation apps for those little emergencies or even day-to-day use.

1. HERE – Google Play, iTunes

Nokia’s HERE, also known as Here Maps, was recently sold to BMW for quite a pretty sum. The maps themselves are hailed as being extremely accurate and BMW intends to use them for self-driving cars if that says anything. The routing isn’t half bad either and tends to mimic dedicated GPS units more than Google does, making it a little easier to use.

2. Google Maps – Google Play, iTunes

If you have an Android, then you already have Google Maps by default. Google Maps is the default go-to for most people and its maps are pretty excellent. It also offers voice guidance, although personally I don’t care for how complicated it can be to preview the route and it’s dangerous to do while driving I think. Regardless, this is still a pretty solid option and has great search functions.

3. Maps.Me – Google Play, iTunes

This little app is one that hardly anyone even knows about, and I actually found it on accident. Completely offline, Maps.Me is first and foremost an offline atlas. The company recent introduced routing and while you do have to download ahead of time, the fact that it requires zero data is worth the time. The routing is a little odd sometimes, but if you can read a map, then this is still a great option. Unlike the others, it does require a bit more planning ahead of time, as you probably won’t want to be routing on the fly.

How accurate are they?


With dedicated GPS devices, it’s easy to measure and compare how accurate each GPS device is, how well it tracks and routes and whether or not the signal is lost. However, with smartphones it doesn’t depend on the app as much as the actual device itself. Some smartphones are better at GPS than others, and I don’t have access to enough devices to really give any tips on that.

For example, my LG G4 gets fantastic signal most of the time and rarely loses or does anything weird like jumping a few blocks at a time. My old Samsung, on the other hand, didn’t even know what GPS was, I don’t think. So it’s really going to come down to your actual device and how often the company updates the maps on the apps. Most apps update at least a couple times a year and Google and Here both update more than that. So sadly, you’ll have to test it out for yourself to determine which works best with your device.

So, for those of you who use your smartphone for navigation, which apps do you prefer? Do you have a suggestion for one that ought to be included? Let me know in the comments!



iOS 8.4 Released, Some GPS Issues Continue


A surprising amount of people use iPhones, iPads or other Apple devices for some form of navigation. Pilots in particular have been known to use iPads to help decode complex aeronautical navigation charts so when the iOS 8.3 update caused a problem with GPS, it was a huge problem. Apple insisted that the next update, iOS 8.4, would fix the problem and it seems like the issue has indeed been lessened. However, it looks like some problems are still occurring with GPS signals on select Apple products.

According to user complaints on Apple forums, many iOS devices are having trouble locking on to GPS and holding on to the signal. The issue mostly seems to be effecting iPhones, but a few users have reported issues with iPads as well. However, it’s not widespread or immediately apparent why some have issues while others don’t. GPS company Bad Elf gave its customers the all-clear a few days ago to upgrade, claiming that compatibility tests went just fine, but a lot of users have been reporting that GPS apps no longer function properly. read more

Garmin Updates Pilot App for Android


Garmin has a number of different markets for its GPS technology and one that we don’t really talk about all that often is aviation. In addition to the recent announcement of Garmin’s new aviator watch, Garmin has also updated its Garmin Pilot app recently. Available to both Android and iOS, the Android version recently gained a few additional features including obstacle and terrain information, simulator support and new upgrade options.

Because I don’t actually think very many of you really utilize this specific GPS market, I’m not going to go too much into the details of the update. However, here are some of the more significant upgrades and updates for the program: read more

Get Directions from the Terminator with Waze


I don’t like Waze. In fact, I’m not a huge fan of navigating with my smartphone at all and I wouldn’t normally even think about suggesting it to anyone. But, I mean, you read the headline, right? Who doesn’t want to get directions from Schwarzenegger in his most famous role as a robot assassin from the future? I mean, I don’t think even I could say no to that.

Here’s a peek of what it sounds like to have the Terminator as your guide: read more

Chimani App to Help Navigate National Parks


The National Parks are one of our nation’s treasures; the last few bastions of real wilderness tucked away and protected so that anyone can go and enjoy the sunshine and the exquisite beauty of nature. This week I discovered an app that is designed to make exploring national parks a more enjoyable experience. Called Chimani, this free app is actually geared first and foremost towards GPS navigation but also looks like it has tons of useful features that will be far more helpful.

I’m sure it shocks absolutely no one that I’m going to recommend that you mostly ignore the GPS function of this app and instead use a handheld GPS unit of some sort. Not only will it save the battery on your phone, but it’s probably going to be a bit more accurate.

However, the Chimani app does far more than just navigate and will provide plenty of information about the national park including camping grounds, facilities, bike rentals, shuttle times, sunrise and sunset, high and low tide, and more. read more

8 GPS Features Smartphones Can’t Match


Garmin nuvi 2757LM review

As smartphones become better at, well, everything, a lot of people are starting to shift away from dedicated GPS units in favor of smartphones for navigation. And, while both have maps and routing and both can lead you in circles at the drop of a hat (although personally I’d trust a GPS over a smartphone any day), there are some smaller things that a lot of GPS units offer which smartphones simply can’t match.

It is worth noting that not every GPS unit will have all of these things, but most of them are pretty standard on newer units. read more

Google Maps to Allow Offline Routing, Navigation

google maps

I know that for most of you, smartphones are never going to replace GPS. And honestly, I can’t blame you. However, at Google’s latest I/O conference today, the search and technology giant announced an upcoming improvement to its Maps program that takes away one of the biggest pitfalls of smartphone navigation: connectivity. read more

Garmin Removes Viago App With No Fanfare


Do you remember the Garmin Viago app? Unless you were one of the several thousand people who downloaded it, I am going to guess probably not. We covered its release in June, but I admit after the article was published, I never really gave it a second thought. And as it turns out, I’m not the only one who wasn’t very impressed with the app.

Immediately after launch, the app had poor reviews on both Google Play and iTunes and now, eight months later, Garmin has officially and quietly shuttered the program. The Viago launch page currently features a message that the app is no longer available for download although all the rest of the PR marketing material is still there to read through, strangely enough. I’m not sure when, exactly, this happened (as I wasn’t using the app) but Android Police claims it was earlier this year. read more

Apple Buys Navigation Company, Signs with TomTom Anyway


Apple is one of those huge corporations that, whenever it does anything, it’s all over the news. Recently, the technology behemoth purchased a small navigation startup by the name of Coherent Navigation, and the internet exploded with theories as to why. With the dismal state of Apple Maps, I can’t say that I found the move particularly surprising or even all that noteworthy. I hadn’t even heard of Coherent Navigation until Apple purchased them.

After doing a bit of research (mostly out of curiosity because it kept popping up in my news feed) this little GPS company apparently was pretty small, based on the coast and mostly handled navigation and location research projects funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. Pretty cool, but again, nothing super noteworthy. The company’s primary claim to fame was its work on High-Integrity GPS or “iGPS” which is meant to help improve GPS reliability. Which, if you’ve ever looked at Apple Maps, then you know Apple certainly is interested in. read more