Do you know how to get to Baker Street from here? If not, you might want to pick up a GPS app for your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. I've discussed Navigon and TomTom's apps here before, and with the latest updates I still tend to use TomTom. But a new contender showed up in the app store yesterday, and from a company that knows a thing or two about navigation: Garmin.
Garmin makes some great stand-alone GPS units. The last dedicated unit I bought was a Garmin. So why has it take them so long to come out with an iOS app? Well, they wanted to hang on to the hardware business, so they made their own phone with their software on it rather than making an app for iOS (or anything else).
After both the people who bought the phones returned them (reviews were universally bad), Garmin has apparently decided to get into the iOS game (and I'm sure there will be an Android and Windows Mobile 7 version too). After all, at the cost of these units (well, the high-end ones – the lower-end units are dropping in price quite a bit), you could have a smartphone, that does a lot of other stuff too (or even just an iPod Touch or an iPad). For the makers of stand-alone units, I think the end is in sight. It's still a ways off, but I think we'll see a drop off in stand-alone GPS sales in a few years.
So should you pick up the Garmin software? It is competitively priced at $39.99. But let's take a look – hmm, the TomTom and Navigon programs are around 1.5 GB each, and the Garmin is only 7.5 MB. How do they do that? By not downloading the maps.
That's right, you download the maps as you need them, so they're always up-to-date. Unless, of course, you're someplace without WifI and 3g signals, in which case you'll get nothing. So why would I pay $40 for this? I can get spoken, turn-by-turn directions like that for FREE from MapQuest. I can even plan my route on my computer and then pull it up on my phone. Sure, the Garmin maps are nicer, but not $40 to $0 nicer if I'm stuck with constantly downloading my maps.
Personally, I want those maps on the device. When I drove cross-country last year, there were several places where I has no connectivity whatsoever. What if I needed to make a turn in those areas (and in one blacked-out section I had to make a lot of turns – we were taking the scenic back route instead of the interstate through some mountains)? Sorry, without maps, this app isn't worth it to me.
OK, I chose today's name for more than the street reference. Gerry Rafferty passed away yesterday. This is one of his more famous songs.