Since its initial release, I’ve been suggesting that people watch the Mobile Maps products from Sygic. They had an interesting approach to navigation software and they seem very committed to making their products better. Now they’ve released Mobile Maps North America version 8.01 and refreshed the look and feel of parts of the app. Lets look at it it a little closer…
So here is what’s new:
* I think the biggest thing that they’ve changed is that they’ve added more of an iPhone / iPod Touch feel to the whole product. Maps can be pinch-zoomed – very nice. Menus now respond to swipes – not just to button presses. Even the keyboard has been made to look and feel more like the iPhone keyboard.
* Additionally, they’ve spruced up the look of the menus. They have a somewhat more realistic look to them, more depth. It really gives the product an updated look. The menus are now very attractive. They also tell you – on the top – what menu you are looking at, along with the your current online status, GPS strength, current time, battery life – a lot of useful info just one tap away from your navigation screen!
* I’ve also noticed that they are now using a more U.S. based look in the North American products. For example, gone is the circular (European) speed sign – now it’s a standard U.S. rectangular sign. It gives a more natural feel for American drivers.
* They are also using the latest TeleAtlas map set and they’ve implemented a map-switching feature, but I only have one map set so I haven’t had the opportunity to try that yet!
* Their press release indicates that they’ve released new Text To Speech [TTS] voices(I haven’t found or tried them yet), and new Instructional voices in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taiwanese.
* They’ve added the recognition of a LOT of abbreviations to aid in the interpretation of addresses from the Contacts list.
They’ve also implemented an online feature that let’s you input speed traps and other trouble spots you may come into so other Sygic users can see them. You can do this with a user account, or anonymously. Tapping on the lower part of the navigation screen bring up the screen to report a trap or problem.
As with many major new updates, I saw a few small problems.
Here are a few things I ran into:
Some of the map errors that I’ve been reporting as problems present in TeleAtlas maps are still here. They are significant, but not critical errors. This is really TeleAtlas’ problem, not Sygic’s, but still, it would be nice to see the problems corrected. Are you listening TomTom? (note: TomTom owns TeleAtlas).
I like the new iPhone-like keyboard, but it doesn’t click or give any feedback when you type. The lack of feedback is a little disconcerting.
The TTS voices (only available in English) are good, but name pronunciation is sometimes a little off – normal on TTS systems – and it can’t tell the difference between “Ky” – when used to abbreviate “Key” versus “Kentucky” so a road near my house – “Carrabelle Key” (with “Key” abbreviated as “Ky”) is always spoken as “Carrabelle Kentucky”.
When I enter an address in for navigation, it sometimes gets stuck in a loop between selecting the city and the state – never moving on to the street name. This seems to happen only if you select the previously used city in the list that first appears so the work-around is to simply start typing the city you want and then pick it from the new list that is generated.
On the maps themselves, the refreshed appearance of the signs is nice, but I’m seeing an anomaly where it will use the Interstate sign shield for non interstate roads, and then sometimes use labels like “L-17″ that don’t correspond to any road designation I know of. The proper road name also usually appears, so this isn’t a critical bug, but it is an odd thing.
Overall: I’m a fan of Sygic Mobile Maps. I like the approach they’ve taken and I like the dedication they’ve shown to improving their products. Even with all it’s features, Mobile Maps opens faster than nearly all my other navigation apps. In the past, they have had some small issues from the beginning “Americanizing” their products for the U.S. market, but they’ve made big strides toward addressing that. I do wish they were using Navteq Maps in North America, but there are other issues that go along with map licensing that are often much more difficult to address. That said, I hope to see their European product some time (where TeleAtlas maps are much more reliable) and compare some locations I’m familiar with. Even with the small anomalies I’ve run into, Sygic has done a wonderful job cramming a lot of features into a package that launches quickly and runs smoothly. I’ve even gone so far as to try it out for a while as my daily driver! If you’re looking for a navigation product, you owe it to yourself to take the time and give Sygic a look! It’s available now in the App store for only $59.99 (the North America product).