A few weeks ago, I took a first look at this title from Sygic. They have since released a small update and fixed a few bugs, so lets take a closer look at Sygic Mobil Maps 2009 – one of the crop of full navigation apps now appearing on the iPhone…
As always with navigation programs, you are greeted with the opening warning about driving and operating the navigation application at the same time. It really is a good reminder that you should set this stuff up before you start moving and really not mess with it while you are driving. It’s never a great idea to drive distracted, and with all the new laws going into place around the country as well as the federal proposals, it really should be avoided!
As I mentioned in my “First Look”, Sygic Mobile Maps 2009 has a feel that immediately struck me as similar to the feel I got with the products from Nav-N-Go (award winning navigation and games software company out of Hungary ). I like this program a lot – it has huge potential – but, even with the update, Mobile Maps 2009 has a few rough edges. For example, as I mentioned before, it uses European-style road speed signs instead of U.S. style ones, and it doesn’t seem to understand how to deal with state border crossings (which I’ll discuss in a moment). But, overall, the look and feel of this application is very nice.
Sygic Mobile Maps 2009 starts very quickly. The icons are colorful, and the main map display is clean and straightforward. Like most current routing programs on the iPhone and elsewhere, routing choices are simplified. The application assumes that your current GPS position is your starting point and only asks you for your destination. Additionally, you can browse the map at any time.
So creating a route is a very straightforward process. Additionally, if needed, you can add stops on yur itinerary, or choose an alternate route (should you hit a road closure). All ver standard, and all executed cleanly in this application. You can also note that the application operates well in either portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) mode.
Previously I noted that the app had an annoying tendency to crash, especially when I crossed a state line, but, after update, it no longer crashes when moving from one state to the next. As a matter of fact, overall, the app is much more stable – I had almost no crashing at all.
Since I have mentioned the oddities of crossing the state line, let me clarify by adding that I’m still at a loss to explain why it puts the state line crossing as a step on the route and why it refers to it as “UMS Frontier Crossing”. I suspect this is related to it’s European roots -perhaps it is treating it as it would an international border – but it isn’t necessary or even appropriate for U.S. navigation.
Before, I also mentioned that the app spells out what it doesn’t have a recording for. Unfortunately , that means “County Hwy 39” becomes “C”-“O”-“U”-“N”-“T”-“Y” “H”-“W”-“Y” “39”. That has not yet been corrected either. It still attempts to spell out some words. I should also note that the app is not full TTS (text-to-speech). It will not attempt to say all road names. It will only say some of those that are common, like “U.S. 90” or the above mentioned example. Most road names are not spoken at all, but this is not uncommon in the current rop of iPhone navigation applications.
My initial routing trials were acceptable, but not necessarily the route I would choose. I had hoped to see some improvements in route selection when the program was updated, but route selection appears to be unchanged from my initial look at the program. I want to make clear that the routes selected are not incorrect, simply not necessarily the best route or even the most appropriate route for the given settings. Additionally, when a route was complete, the route didn’t disappear. You need to manually clear the route from the application. I would have preferred that the route automatically clear upon completion.
Lastly, I still have not found a way to control the default zoom level. It’s zoomed a little too far out for my taste, but other than to tell it to “auto” zoom in and out of each route step, I haven’t found much control over the level yet. I hope they will add some modification controls for this feature in future versions.
I mentioned that routes are not always optimal, but there were also a couple of minor routing “glitches” I encountered. For example, In the above image, you see the route wanting me to move past the available exit ramp and perform a u-turn a little further up. It never recognizes the exit ramp. In that same location, it believes the speed limit to be 45MPH, when, in fact, it is actually 55MPH.
Overall, this program is pretty clean – in its approach and execution. Menus are clear and straightforward. Calculations and recalculations are fast. I’m not always crazy about the font selections, but they do redraw quickly.
What I liked: Sygic Mobile Maps 2009 is a clean, fast application with maps available for many parts of the world. It also provides support for a wide variety of languages, making it an excellent choice for many people.
What Needs Improving: A little more tweaking for the U.S./North American market is still in order here. I’d also like to see some improvements in route handling.
Overall: The latest update makes some excellent improvements, especially in the area of application stability, but the program still needs more massaging for the North American market. I think it has some of the best potential of many similar applications that have been recently released and the people at Sygic seem motivated to make improvements. I look forward to a lot of improvements in this application and I plan to keep a close eye on where Sygic goes with this.
Sygic Mobile Maps 2009 is available in variety of editions: United States, North America, Brazil, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and Europe. Prices range from $59.99 to $99.99 at the ITMS App Store.