iPhone owners have anxiously awaited the ability to run turn by turn GPS applications. AT&T has introduced a subscription solution, Tom Tom has announced a version coming soon and Navigon released their North American version last week. G-Map from X-Road (read Chris G full review from April here) is yet another option and is notably less expensive than the others.
G-Map downloads maps directly to the phone so, unlike AT&T’s offering, a data connection is not required. Price points vary as there are several purchasing options. $34.99 buys either a U.S West or U.S. East version. Six regional versions are available for $19.99. For this review I used the $19.99 G-Map TX.
The home screen offers several options. You can choose where to go, go directly to the map or set the options for the Route. Overall it is simple and to the point. Clicking “Where To?” offers many options to choose your route. I used the address option several times on my trip and it was easy to enter and use.
For comparison I used my Mio Moov 300 along side G-Map on a trip to San Antonio. We live about 45 miles from the city and travel there often for shopping etc… Since I am familiar with the route it seemed like a good way compare how both devices worked in the real world. My plan was this… start at home, get directions to a Lowe’s Hardware in San Antonio and test the units side by side during the trip.
G-Map includes simple text entry. I entered city, street, then number, clicked on the address and quickly saw a small map of the destination. While typing, search suggestions appear. This makes entry even faster.
Mio provides terrible text entry. Typing is difficult and sluggish which usually keeps me from using this feature.
Winner- G-Map… by a mile
Both devices calculated the route and were ready for use in just a few seconds.
When we begin the map the Mio instructed me to take a side street that is a short cut to the highway. G-Map had me drive the main route to the highway. I is just a few blocks different, but I found i interesting that the iPhone did not choose the shortest route since that is what I had configured.
Winner- Mio… by three blocks
G-Map does not announce street names. It audibly gives distances to the turn and adds descriptions such as “sharp right turn” when needed. This worked but was a bit disappointing. While the iPhone speaker did limit the sound quality and volume the voice was clear and easy to understand. During this test, I listened to the voice through the car stereo. This overcame the limitations of the iPhone speaker and the sound was superb.
The Mio’s voice is more robotic sounding than G-Map but does provide more information. Street names and other descriptions are announced and the speaker is well suited to be heard in a moving vehicle. The extra information it provides is a nice feature although I often felt that the Mio was TOO VERBOSE. There were way too many reminders. That noted, better too many than not enough.
Winner: (In a robotic sounding voice) MIO
G-Map was, overall, quite accurate. It did, however try to take me on an exit and back up on the next ramp while traveling on a major highway. OOPS! Other than that mistake, however the directions were accurate but that is a pretty significant mistake.
As usual, the Mio was spot on. That noted, however, the maps on the G-Map were more up to date and with lots of recent construction changing roadways in San Antonio, updated maps are important.
Winner: Mio (hey, exits are exits and my GPS shouldn’t get me into a headon collision)
After purposely forcing a reroute. Both units’ calculations were fast.
G-Map provided a new route in seconds while the Mio took a little over 10 seconds. In one instance, the instructions were to perform a U-turn at the next available location. The Mio continuously repeated the instructions almost to the point where I wanted to turn it off. My 4 year old son asked me why I was letting those ladies boss me around!
Winner: G-Map (Faster and I didn’t want to throw IT out the window.)
G-Map only showed a few gas stations for points of interest. Maybe the feature is stronger in other areas, but in the San Antonio Texas area there are very few included. I do have to admit that I rarely use this feature on any GPS unit so this is not a deal breaker, but should get some improvement
Mio has more POIs but they are often not accurate. Some gas stations are up to half a mile away from their actual locations. It is hit or mis quite often.
Winner: AT&T Navigator, Navigon or Tom Tom… in other words both lost.
G-Map won’t be replacing a decent stand-alone GPS any time soon. If you are anxiously awaiting a gps option on the iPhone, G-Map will provide a cheap and pleasent experience.
Me?? I will keep the app on my phone to use in a pinch or travelling without my stand alone gps. I can see it being especially useful when finding stadiums on coaching trips. That noted, the Mio will be my gps of choice when taking a long trip with the family.