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Review: Sygic Mobile Maps America

 

Since the release of the iPhone 3G and it’s inclusion of the GPS functionality, people have dreamt of using the iPhone as a GPS unit. Unfortunately until the release of the iPhone 3.0 software this feat was impossible due to Apple’s restrictions on the SDK. Finally with the new iPhone 3.0 software, developers can create their own GPS solution provided they bring their own maps (Due to licensing restrictions Apple cannot use Google Maps). Sygic is one of the first GPS solutions out of the gate for the iPhone. It really surprised me with its excellent set of features.

I will begin this review by saying that this application is fast. Even though I have an iPhone 3GS this application is fast enough I imagine it will be smooth experience using it on the standard iPhone 3G. Maps load quickly and the GPS locates your position almost instantly. Speaking of that if it cannot obtain a location for you immediately you can tell the application to wait for a signal, use your last recorded location, or manually type in a location. If you have to hope back into the application after taking a phone call or changing a song the application will quickly adjust itself appropriately to reflect your new location. Text on the screen is easily readable and the maps are both colorful and easy on the eye.

Sygic GPS treats itself like more of a standard GPS unit than an iPhone application. There is a lot of poking at the screen, but despite the lack of muli-touch the application gets the job done. The people at Sygic promote road safety (There is a safety prompt at each time you boot up the application) and I can see how having this simplified interface design and easy navigation is designed to keep your eyes on the road. The interface is noticeably responsive and the iPhone’s screen is a joy to tap on compared to other full-GPS units. You can use Sygic is either portrait or landscape mode. Landscape mode being better for viewing and portrait being better for controlling your music or answering a phone calls if the need arises.

 

Speaking of these extra iPhone functions unfortunately due the restrictions set forth by Apple answering a phone call will shut off the GPS, as will switching to any other other application. This is not Sygic’s fault and they more than make up for this by having the GPS software resume quickly. If there is anything that is disappointing is that currently there is a slight glitch in the current version of the software if you are listening to music via the iPod function. If you change the music’s volume while you are navigating for some odd reason the GPS volume lowers itself and then you find the music completely overwhelming the GPS’s turn-by-turns prompts. Until they fix this issue the best solution for listening to music as your navigate with Nygic’s GPS is being sure to adjust the volume of your radio instead of the iPhone’s own volume rocker. This makes sure the GPS’s volume remains on the same level as music while allowing you to turn up your music volume. This is my only qualm of this software and I imagine that this is a simple fix in future versions. If you are not listening to music the GPS’s voice is loud and easily understood.

Like any standalone GPS solution Sygic provides points of interest for you, but like any GPS it uses it own information. I do not know if it is possible, but integrating Google Map data into these points of interest would be nice. I would love the ability to search for “Best Buy” and be able to see any local Bestbuys the same way the native iPhone maps does.

 

Like any good GPS unit Sygic gives you turn-by-turn directions with a quite understandable male voice (Sorry, no options to use a woman’s voice). My only gripe is that by default whenever you turn on some roads the GPS will audibly pronounce its legal number instead of the actual road name. Thankfully Sygic provides plenty of options, including the ability to decide on what the GPS narrates. Speaking of options, Sygic is nice in that it gives you the choice of what kind of map you want, whether it be 2D or 3D. The GPS software will by default automatically adjust itself during the night so that you do not have a glowing orb of white light pulsing from your dashboard. You can also select which language you want the GPS to be in so that if you were ever traveling abroad you could use their other map software in your own native tongue.

 

As you can probably tell you Sygic is very much like a traditional GPS for better or worse. While it does not innovate nor does it really use any of the iPhone’s unique features I really appreciate this application. It functions as a reliable GPS unit that provides an excellent experience for me while I have tested it over the last two weeks. While the application is $79.99, it is much cheaper than a traditional GPS unit and the iPhone’s screen undoubtedly is much better than many of the GPS screens I have seen around town. I think the application provides tremendous value and that you should seriously consider purchasing it if you are looking into GPS software for the iPhone. There is no need to wait for other solutions because if all your looking for is a great GPS program that will get you from point A to point B then you will be satisfied with Sygic.

By: Hunt Henning (www.thedigitalcheatsheet.com)

Sygic Mobile Maps America - Turn-by-Turn Voice Guided GPS Navigation

Full version: $79.99

Sale version: $39.99