iOS6 Navigation: First Thoughts

The new thing that everyone loves to hate; Apple Maps on iOS6. The internet has been sharing the hate, fueled by the heat of 1,000 suns, for the new app. Personally, I don’t think it’s too bad.

I was never a fan of the maps app in the first place. The place I needed it the most is when I’m in a car. Doesn’t matter if I was driving or riding shotgun, the information was too slow in coming and the screen too small for me to read accurately. And it didn’t do turn-by-turn navigation.

I’ve been using MotionX GPS Drive for almost the last year and it’s pretty great. It’s not as good as a standalone navigation unit, but it is pretty close. Close enough that I was using it during MTTS to find my way across the US when the built-in MINI Navigation wasn’t good enough. After the iOS6 update last week, I thought I should give the new turn-by-turn navigation a shot, which I did on the return leg of a roadtrip that took me out to Bullhead City, AZ, to visit my parents. My return trip was going a direction I was unfamiliar with, taking roads I have never driven before. And, since you are reading this, I managed to get home successfully.

It does work pretty ok for turn-by-turn. It’s not as good as MotionX, but it’s functional and should get you where you need to be, plus or minus a few feet. The voice does have an odd syntax that takes a little getting used to, and it’s less than smooth sounding, being powered by the voice of Siri.

I would appreciate some features during navigation however. As it stands right now, there are zero configuration options for navigation. There aren’t any other features on the screen either, other than the map and the information in the box located at the top of the screen.

For example, the voice uses compass directions often. North, south, east and west, but does not display any type of compass on the screen. Some kind of music controls would be nice, as would some kind of driving data like current speed and speed limit of the road. All of these are features of motionX and sorely needed. Some configuration options like having the ability to navigate without using toll roads, non-paved roads and traffic would be nice as well.

I’ve been using this for the week just to get around town to get a good feel for it. Another thing that I notice is that Siri is quite the chatty Cathy! She is constantly giving directions. Sometimes it gets fairly annoying, but if I was going someplace new, I’m sure those directions would be more welcome.

For free, it’s not horrible. It’s not as good as the standard Android Nav (that I last used over a year ago), or anything available in the app store for free to cheap. It is useable and should get you to your destination, mostly.

Have you used it yet? What do you think? Comments are open!

(4) Comments|Posted in Op/Ed on 9/26/2012

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4 Responses to “iOS6 Navigation: First Thoughts”

  1. Bex says:

    I used the app last week and was very happy with it. It was very easy to look at and understand while I was driving. The feature I was most impressed with was how it operated while I took a phone call. I had the phone on speaker in my windshield mount and noticed that there were pop-ups telling me where and when to turn (something that MotionX GPS doesn’t do).

    • db says:

      Thanks Bex! I rarely get phone calls while I’m driving, so I’ve never that happen with either of them. Still wish the new thing had music controls that were easier to access.

  2. lasersailor says:

    I successfully used Apple’s Maps app this week on my trip between Santa Barbara and Silicon Valley. Granted, that’s not a very challenging test. But, it did guide me properly to/from my obscurely-located hotel in San Mateo under the somewhat confusing US101/CA92 intersection. The turn-by-turn directions provided just the right amount of well-timed information.

    Apple’s Maps UI/UX was easier and quicker to configure and use than my previous CoPilot iOS app, and it requires less memory on my phone. From my perspective it’s an improvement.

  3. Lisa says:

    I have used it to test it out, and I love the direction display. I would never use directns or routes with Google because it just confused me. I also noticed that it is somehow connected to TomTom. I have their GO 740. I know from comparing the TomTom routing with other GPSs (Garmin, Honda in-car, Google) that the TomTom logic is usually the most direct and efficient. In fact, the easiest route out of my neighborhood is a challenge for everything except TomTom.

    I haven’t spent a lot of time reading the negative stuff online, but for what I have seen it is mostly focused on data accuracy. Isn’t all digital map data produced by only a few companies (eg Navtec)?

    I see the new map app as an improvement.

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