05.What we found
With the exception of Mocal, all the GPS apps tested store the maps on your iPhone
. The iPhone’s GPS chip works independently of the phone network. This means you can use the GPS app almost anywhere. Mocal works a little differently – it plots a route through a central server, and downloads just the map data for your route on the fly. This can be a potential problem if you’re out of range of a mobile phone network, and is similar to Google Maps which also downloads map information on-the-fly.
Given the unique features the iPhone brings to an on-board GPS
, and the explosion of GPS apps available on the app store, we created a much more stringent ease of use criteria this time around for our test. This includes ease of menu navigation, entering data through the on-screen keyboard, and assessing the range and flexibility of settings, as well as being able to take advantage of features such as navigating via Contacts, using Google search to find locations, and iPod control. Some apps share these features, and these factor into the scores, while others add unique ones all their own – such as Mocal’s ability to download map data over the internet, or Co-Pilot’s ability to track the phone via a website.