Best GPS for the iPhone?

My Garmin GPS is one of my favorite things in the world - they should give the people who made that thing a “Practical Nobel Prize.” For someone like me, with no sense of direction, it has been a life saver time after time.

I keep hearing people say they use their iPhone as a GPS, but I can’t imagine it replacing a dedicated GPS; for example, I use mine mounted where I can glance at it as I’m driving, and rely on the voice directions.

So - what is the best GPS option for the iPhone, and does anyone here use it in the place of a dedicated GPS?

That would be why people who use their smartphone as a GPS mount it so they can glance at it as they’re driving, and rely on the voice directions.


Do you get off on being useless or are you just racing as fast as you can to WES and are so busy that you only have a couple minutes each day to throw together a couple of quick throwaway posts? That wasn’t even a competent burn, his post was totally legitimate, he wants to know what the best GPS app is and if it outperforms a dedicated GPS.

Yeah, when my Garmin’s traffic receiver stopped working, I switched to my iPhone and never looked back.

I actually have two GPS programs installed. I actually like CoPilot the best. It’s inexpensive, and its internet search for points of interests, newer restaurants, etc. works much better than Navigon’s Google search.

However, I have Navigon as a backup, because CoPilot’s one-way street functionality is apparently broken, and the damn thing has tried to kill me in both Portland and Seattle.

So, Navigon is the answer. But if you have memory to spare, shell out $5 to give CoPilot USA a try too.

Sadly, the Garmin app sucks. It doesn’t store the maps locally, so if you end up in the sticks with no signal and you haven’t preloaded your journey, you’re hosed.

For mounts, these rock:

Navigon + Proclip user here.

When I had an iPhone, Navigon was the best. Sounds like it still is.

No, Zylon is totally right. Jeffl post doesn’t make a lot of sense. What app would be useful to him if he can’t mount his iPhone and rely on voice directions, as he says in his original post?

On iPhone, Tomtom is easily the better GPS software than Navigon. It has more features and better interface.

Navigon is Universal.

Thanks Denny, I’ll start with the Navigon (my Garmin is about to die) - how much are map updates?

I like that clip in the link, but I need to be able to move it between several cars so I need a more universal mount. I’m looking at some of the Arkon bean bag options.

Or you could just get a ProClip for every car. Expensive, but they look classy. :)

A beanbag mount is a projectile headed for your face in a car crash…

Honestly, CoPilot is better with map updates than Navigon. But there’s that whole “your iPhone tries to kill you” aspect that kind of nullifies that advantage.

mixuk, TomTom’s map data in the US is the worst of the GPS lot. The source they use is very poorly updated; most of the rest of the GPSes use Navteq map data, which is far better on this side of the pond.

I think this is or is becoming a well established myth. Teleatlas has been doing a lot of buying of US companies and really ramping up on their US map making.

But Navigon makes good software… Which is why Garmin bought them.

I prefer TomTom on the iPhone but it sucks batteries like a bitch, so that’s another reason you’ll need a cradle.
TomTom’s HD Traffic and MapShare is also superior to both Navigon and Garmin’s solutions but but dependant on the data and improved by the number of other users, so I don’t know how good it is in the US - in major European cities it will save you serious time redirecting in case of accidents and the like.

On a final note bear in mind that a dedicated unit has a much better antenna than your smartphone, which is one reason I bought a TomTom GO Live 1000 recently even though I have the iPhone App. The other reason is that when using the online capabilities I pay TomTom a one time fee and don’t have to worry about international roaming charges.

I haven’t tried any of the pay nav apps, since my car has a built-in nav, but I have used a free one called Waze. Give it a try. What I like about it, is that it crowdsources traffic information, as well as using a traffic news network. If you are in a busy metro area then the quality of traffic reporting is great. It also has turn-by-turn nav routing with voice directions. Pretty good for free. I imagine its value is really determined by how many other users are in your area though.

The issue with most of the free ones is that they require a cell connection to work whereas the paid ones tend to download the maps and just need the GPS.

I use copilot and it is ok. I managed to get the US edition for 5 bucks, can’t recall if that was a sale or not.

I’ve played with Waze as a game, Pac-Man munching up routes, but I’d never rely on it for directions. The traffic stuff is great, but the maps are quirky and the routing is abysmal until it’s seen you drive the route a couple of times.

Hans, the suckitude of TomTom maps in the US isn’t a myth, unless they’ve gotten dramatically better in the two years since I last used a TomTom GPS. Seriously out-of-date data, particularly in major cities where construction/new routes are common.

I don’t know that they have. And I haven’t tested myself, so I wont get into an argument with somebody who has.
I’m just surprised that it’s the case with all the money Tele Atlas has sunk into US mapping (and the bidding war between Garmin and TomTom for the company).

And while I haven’t been reading a full range of US reviews, I would expect lousy maps to come up more frequently in reviews if it’s not mostly a myth - it doesn’t really make any sense to devote time on niggles with the capacitive screen if the maps are all messed up.

Had a chance to use Navigon last night, for the first time. A group of us went in someone else’s car to a ball game out of town, due to traffic we got routed, as we left the game, onto a road none of us were familiar with, and I didn’t have my Garmin with me. So I pulled out the iPhone and fired up Navigon.

It worked, it got us home. After this very limited (about an hour) usage, I’m not sure I’m ready to get rid of my Garmin. The areas in which it felt lesser than the Garmin:

  1. Zoom out and in - Garmin let’s you reach over and touch a big + or - button, easy to do while driving. The Navigon appeared to require the two finger pinch mode for zooming in and out, which is awkward while driving.

  2. Voice directions - “Claire” (the name my wife gave the Australian female voice we use on our Garmin) seems to give more detailed guidance than the voice on the Navigon. For example, the Garmin will say “Exit on the right in 0.3 miles, Exit 2B, and stay on the right side.” Handy in traffic to know which lane to be in after you get on the exit lane for your upcoming next turn. The Navigon gives a simple “Turn here on road xxxx.”

  3. I don’t see some of the handy and easy to get to and from screens I see in the Garmin, that list total trip time, how much of that time is moving, average speed, top speed, miles driven, miles to destination, etc.

  4. Also, akin to the zoom, I can’t simply touch the map and move it.

I need to find the documentation and read it and make sure there aren’t ways to get around these or ways to do them. Also, the search function when looking for places seemed weak (it could not find the ball park, even after trying several search approaches, while, when I got home and tried it, the Garmin found it immediately.)

It was cool to have a GPS on my phone and saved us last night, but in my one use of it it did seem a step back from my Garmin, FWIW,

While in 3D view just tap anywhere on the screen (that’s not a hot spot) to switch to a 2D view. In 2D view you can just drag the map around with one finger. Tap the 3 segmented looking path icon in the lower right corner automatically scales the map to include your current position and the destination. Tapping “done” brings you back to the 3d view.

I find it useful to view the entire route in 2D first to get an idea where I’m going and what major roads it’s taking and then leave it in 3D view while I’m actually driving.

For what lane to be in Navigon throws up this big graphic representation of the lanes when coming up to an exit and clearly shows you with arrows what lane you should be in. It only takes a quick glance to see where you should be.

Near the bottom of the screen there is a strip of data that shows you estimated time and distance. Tapping it cycles through some different info.

lol @ these poor iPhone users who have to pay real money for GPS solutions when virtually every Android phone has a solution that is better than anything available on the iPhone and comes free with the phone.

Imagine a life in which I couldn’t instantly Chome-to-phone my destination from a desktop search directly to my phone’s navigation system, or use integrated voice search (integrated across the whole phone experience, not specific to the GPS), or not get directions based on real-time traffic patterns as being reported by other users of my gps system. How barbaric!