As the PND vs. smartphone battle for navigation superiority continues, we're seeing more of the GPS heavyweights hedging their bets by developing application versions of their standalone GPS devices, while others push toward adding cellular technology to their portable devices in a bid to even the playing field.
Magellan finds itself in the former camp with the announcement of its Magellan RoadMate for iPhone turn-by-turn navigation application. The application is compatible with the iPhone 3G and 3GS models and will be available soon on the App Store at an introductory price of $79.99 (which will jump to $99.99 sometime thereafter).
The Magellan RoadMate for iPhone inherits many of the features that we liked when we tested the RoadMate 1470 standalone navigation device, such as the OneTouch user menu--a customizable shortcut menu that allows users to store frequently accessed addresses, POIs, and searches--and the ability to calculate and compare multiple routing options simultaneously. The RoadMate app also uses the same Navteq maps as the standalone unit. Maps and POIs are stored locally so you can keep navigating even without a data connection.
Other positive features that stand out are spoken text-to-speech street names, an oversize on-screen keyboard that's easier to use at an arm's length than the iPhone's default keyboard, native access to the iPhone's contacts list, and graphic lane guidance with digital highway street signs. In-app music control with playlist creation isn't critical to getting from point A to point B, but it's nice to have. 3D building data for major cities may be nice for users who navigate visually, but I think it's more of an eye candy thing than a truly useful feature.
Once you get where you're going, the RoadMate app automatically remembers the location of your car so you can find your way back and can switch to a Pedestrian mode for further navigation on foot.
I got my hands on an advanced copy of the Magellan RoadMate for iPhone app for evaluation and found, for the most part, that it worked as advertised. The app booted quickly and responded snappily to my inputs when tested on an Apple iPhone 3GS. A positive side effect of locally stored maps and POIs is that searching and routing with the RoadMate app is lightning fast, even when calculating four simultaneous routing options.… Read more