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We test 13 smartphone navigation apps available for Apple iPhone, Android and Windows phones.
Most smartphone owners know about Google Maps, which provides basic information on where you are and how to get from point A to B. But you can get an app on your phone that will work just like a car navigation device, with safety camera warning, trip planning and advanced lane guidance.
We test 13 smartphone GPS apps available for the Apple iPhone, Android and Windows phones, including free apps, and paid ones priced up to $90.
We've assessed each app for:
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Content producer - Digital home
Home entertainment, Phones, Cameras, Gadgets, Tablets and personal media devices, Cars, Camping, Internet, Laundry and cleaning, Cooling, Heating
Test coordinator - Digital home
Our test report compares products across these 41 criteria.
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The overall score is made up of: ease of use (40%), regional performance (25%), verbal instructions (25%), and speed of map refresh (10%).
The city test mainly involves bench tests carried out in Sydney, as past results in various cities showed very little difference between models in built-up areas in terms of distances and arrival times. However, assessments of speed of recovery when coming out of tunnels and recalculations after a missed turn are carried out in the field. Our tester also selects various regional locations, and performs two sets of distance calculations for each location. The total of the predicted distances is calculated; the more accurate the predicted distance, the better the score.
Apps such as Google Maps and Apple maps update map data as you drive to your destination and don't come with maps stored on your mobile. While there is a network available this situation shouldn't be an issue as long as your mobile plan includes data. If you know where you are going on a trip and want to use these apps, you can also download the trip to your app before you leave meaning the app will still work if you lose your mobile network connection during the drive.
This is a very handy feature if you happen to be travelling in an unfamiliar city as you will be shown when to start moving over to a better lane before doing that mad dash once you realise you are in the wrong lane for a turn off.
Instead of telling you to turn right at the next intersection, or even turn right into George Street, landmark guidance will tell you to turn right at the large yellow building, or just before the shopping centre. This can be much more effective (until, of course, they paint that building).
Cycle mode delivers a route that best suits a rider, with paths and roads with less traffic included in the calculation.
This feature can be handy when you want to determine the general route of your trip without having to feed in specific points along the trip.
As of March 2015.
Our tester checks how long it takes the GPS to recover after a missed turn, and after coming out of a tunnel with a planned turn-off immediately after the tunnel exit.
Text-to-speech means your car GPS app will tell you 'turn left into George Street', rather than simply 'turn left in 300 metres'. While most of the car GPS apps also have novelty voices such as Darth Vader or Homer Simpson, these voices can't perform this task yet so you have to cope with the computer generated voice if you want this very handy feature.
Our tester selects 20 types of points of interest (POI), including a hospital, medical centre, airport, police station, shopping centre, tourist information centres, and so on, and rates the models based on how the POIs are listed.
This column shows which products have been discontinued and which are still available. 'Active' indicates they can still be found and 'inactive' that they are discontinued products.
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