TeleNav offers a sort-of free GPS solution for iOS
As we continue our survey of GPS apps for iOS, I have to mention the TeleNav family. The company, which is also behind the AT&T Navigator subscription app, offers a free entry level app that is quite popular with users, even though it is missing some key features.
For free you get turn-by-turn directions, 3D maps, local search that includes gas prices, and one-touch rerouting.
There's a big feature missing, however. No spoken turn-by-turn directions. So, in a way, it's not offering much more than the built-in Maps application, and less than the free voice-enabled Mapquest application (published by our parent company AOL). There is a 3D view, but when driving, you don't want to be looking at a screen.
The solution is an upgrade to the US $0.99 app, but after that you use it for 30 days you need to upgrade to a $9.99 a year subscription. That's a sale price which is about half off the regular tariff. The paid version adds voice guidance, spoken street names and auto rerouting.
So how does it all work? It's not bad. The graphics are clean, setting up a destination is easy, and the local search is comprehensive. The voice guidance is very clear. I didn't run into heavy traffic during my test, so no comments there.
Since the maps are downloaded as you go, that means a data connection is needed. It's something to think about if you are going to be out of cellular range frequently. On the other hand, with no onboard maps, the app has a small footprint (17.5MB) and your maps will theoretically stay current.
With my driving in Arizona the maps seemed current, although some comments in the App Store indicate they may not always be up to date with the latest street layouts. As someone with local knowledge, TeleNav didn't always take me the way I would have chosen, but the choices always worked. I've noticed that nav apps have a bias for bigger streets, but sometimes the best shortcuts are the road less traveled.
Is the TeleNav app for you? If you are on a budget an in an urban setting I think it is worth a serious look. I'm not wild about the idea of subscriptions to apps. I'd rather spend a little more and forget about recurring charges. If you are on a limited data plan, and you use it a lot, you may run into extra charges, but the data being downloaded is pretty minimal.
It's nice to see the many, many choices iPhone users have to get a perfect fit for navigation. TeleNav has given you yet another choice worth considering. The app requires iOS 4 or greater but runs fine on iOS5 and the new iPhone 4S. TeleNav is universal so it runs on the iPhone as well as the iPad.
Of course, life would be grand if Apple provided built-in navigation as is found on the Android phones. That may be coming, and there have certainly been indications of it. Think of the power of Siri and navigation rolled into one.
Gallery: TeleNav GPS app for iOS
TeleNav offers a sort-of free GPS solution for iOS originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 31 Oct 2011 07:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Maps for iOS 6: A great start but some big gaps
Make no mistake. Maps for iOS 6 is a great achievement for Apple. Starting from basically a blank slate and making some strategic acquisitions and partnerships (TomTom, Placebase, C3, Poly9, Waze) in map data, POI information and 3D fly-over images, Maps is amazing for what it does. On the other hand, comparing it to Google Maps, which has been around since 2004 and leverages the company's experience and expertise in mapping, is going to leave Apple coming up short.
I've been using Maps for several weeks, in beta and the golden master version, so I've gathered my thoughts and experiences to share with you.
It is very clean and easy to read. Roadsigns are displayed boldly and the navigation information is very clear. The map can be displayed in 2D or 3D, with or without satellite imagery. I think most people will prefer the display to Google maps in the iPhone, which Apple has banished anyway. The Apple maps are vector maps, so they are infinitely zoomable. Google maps are actually a series of still images, that expand for a set amount, and then quickly replace the image with a fresh one. I think the vector maps from Apple are far more preferable.
Gallery: Apple Maps for iOS 6
The 3D flyover images are only available for big cities in the US, UK, France and Canada, and they are impressive, but probably not as useful as Google Street View when you are trying to find a location. Note that Apple maps requires a data connection. Maps are not cached and if you are away from any kind of internet connectivity you are plain out of luck. Apple should allow pre-downloading of specific areas, or deal with a lot of user complaints. Google Maps on iOS had the same problem, but several third party navigation apps like Navigon stepped into the breach with onboard maps that work anywhere. Apple isn't going to load the whole country on an iPhone -- users would be up in arms -- but Maps needs a trip-planning mode that will allow you to have the maps you need on board.
Finding a POI
A navigation program is only as good as the database behind it. The Google POI listings are very complete. Of course, it will sometimes steer you to an out-of-business store or restaurant, but Google really does try to keep up. Apple has a good, but not excellent POI roster. In general, here in Arizona, it works quite well, and it seems to be sourced mostly from Yelp. It seems to do better on resturants than other types of businesses. It's generally up to date, but on occasion it misses a location I know is there. I think the Maps app is US centric. Reports from overseas are pretty consistent in identifying omissions, especially in Europe and Asia.
I think the brightest spot with Apple's maps is the way it works without typing. Say, "Take me home," and the app does just that. Say, "Find direction to the nearest pharmacy," and off it goes. Typing and driving just don't go together, and this feature works very well.
You can also navigate to anything in your contacts list by just saying that is where you want to go. The app uses the Siri voice, and the turn-by-turn directions are clear and concise. Google, for whatever reasons, never offered turn-by-turn directions on its iOS app, although it does for Android phones. It's likely Google Maps will be back to the App Store very soon, but whether or not it will have turn-by-turn directions is unknown at this point.
The voice-controlled feature on Apple Maps is superior to anything Google offered on the iPhone. It is a pleasure to use and simply reduces distractions when driving. Note: an increasing number of states won't let you pick up your phone to talk on it, so your options are limited but with Bluetooth speakers there are some safe workarounds.
Maps offers traffic information for the US and several countries. I don't live in a place with lots of traffic issues, but I've seen information appear and Maps warns you when your route may have delays. Alerts are quite clear, with a popup that says something like "Faster Route Available: Due to traffic, rerouting can save 8 minutes." Icons show you accidents, alerts and construction.
There's a big gap here. Apple Maps simply doesn't have them. Apple says it is going to integrate them from 3rd parties, but if you live in a big city and are dependent on public transportation, you are not going to like Maps at all. This may get better, and it will have to if Apple is going to compete with Google.
Apple felt it had to dump Google Maps from iOS. Apple and Google are in serious competition, and Apple didn't want to partner with a company it no longer trusted. It's understandable, but Google Maps had features that simply aren't in Apple Maps yet, and some may never appear. If you are a casual maps user, Apple's app is going to be just fine in most cases. It will get you from here to there with reliable directions and traffic. If you are a Google Maps power user you are going to be unhappy.
The detail, POIs and transportation data are far superior on Google. Street view is more useful than 3D flyovers, as impressive as the technology is. Seeing a 3D rendering of a destination just isn't competition for a street-level view. For now, you can get Google Maps on your iPhone browser, but it is ugly, and awkward to use.
That said, Maps is a terrific and free addition to iOS. When Google Maps returns, you'll have a choice, but will give up Siri integration which is both powerful and helpful. If Google offers turn-by-turn directions, that's going to be terrific for those that want to go that way. Meanwhile, 3rd parties are updating their navigation apps because they will have to compete with the free Maps app from Apple. In the end, their will be a lot of full featured choices. For now, with this first version of Maps from Apple, there are trade-offs and no easy replacements. I find Maps works fine for about 90% of my needs. You may feel differently for your own particular navigation desires, especially if you use public transportation.
Maps features are hardware dependent. Flyover and turn-by-turn navigation are only available on the iPhone 5, 4S, iPad 2 or later, and iPod touch 5th generation. If you have an older phone, you'll get maps, traffic information, and local search with directions.Maps for iOS 6: A great start but some big gaps originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 19 Sep 2012 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Dragon Go! is a must-have voice search app for your iPhone
Like the proverbial genie in the bottle, you can ask a lot of Dragon Go! and have a pretty good chance of the app granting your wish. Dragon Go! is the latest free app from Nuance, creators of Dragon Dictate for the Mac and Dragon Dictation for iOS devices. In this latest app, Nuance has delivered what they consider the next generation of voice search, and after several days of testing I have no reason to doubt it.
Here's the deal. Speak just about anything to Dragon Go! and it will try to parse your meaning and bring up the right set of tools to complete your search. Ask for News about Libya, or news about Libya from the New York Times and the app complies. Ask for reservations for 2 at a favorite restaurant and Open Table is queried. Directions from your current location to the nearest hospital will launch Google Maps with the route. Say a product name, like JBL speakers and an Amazon page came up with the JBL speakers Amazon sells.
It gets better. Ask it to play an artist on Pandora, and if you have the app installed it will launch and start playing the artist you asked for. Say "Play the Beatles" and if you have the Beatles on your device the music will play. You can also direct a query to a particular site. I tried "stories about Apple TV on TUAW" and it brought up a list from our website. Then a tough test. I asked to see pictures of obscure character actor Whit Bissell and the images popped up right on cue. Check our gallery. Holy Moly!
No app is perfect, and every so often Dragon Go! botched a search, but most questions I asked delivered useful answers. It may seem like the app has a bit of overlap with Siri, which is also powered by Nuance Technology. There is some, but Dragon Go! reaches deeper and takes you to the appropriate place on the web, rather than try to contain the info within the app itself.
The sources Dragon Go! is using are displayed at the top of the screen. You can change those sources manually if you want. The default search engine is Google, but Bing and Yahoo! are fine if you'd rather use them.
I found Dragon Go! an extraordinarily useful app in day to day use. I can only scratch the surface of its capabilities in this review. You must try it for yourself. I was often wishing this kind of technology was built into my iPhone at the system level, and I'll bet Nuance wishes it were too. Of course with Apple buying Siri, we may see something similar.
Dragon Go! is free, and iPhone-only at this point. According to Matt Revis, VP of Product Management at Nuance, the app is US English for now. It will come to Android sometime in the future, and also to the iPad. For all intents it replaces Dragon Search, which is not as full featured. The app will continue to function, but it won't be downloadable from the US app store. My guess is that most people will replace it with Dragon Go! anyway. I'd seriously recommend you download and give the app a test drive. It's a great iPhone demo, and I think it will work its way into your daily routine.
Share your experiences with us, and tell us what you like and what you don't like.
Gallery: Dragon Go! for iPhoneDragon Go! is a must-have voice search app for your iPhone originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Thu, 14 Jul 2011 01:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments