The idea of a smartphone that doesn't require a data plan is neither mine alone nor a new concept to me. I found Scratch* Wireless because I was looking for the service. So during the quest dear daughter number one mentioned a must-have on her always with her portable device - Navigation.
Last summer I did some research and landed on Sygic-GPS Navigation. Sorry this means I don't recall the complete decision process nor the reviewers. This past research did make putting a Nav-App on the phone easier since it was already on my cloud of purchased apps.
Why this Navigator:
1) It was already in my app list
2) Works w/o a data connection, still needs GPS receivers running of course
3) Good/Satisfactory Reviews
4) TomTom* Maps - I'd rather pay for the "known" maps today. There are open/free map sources, may still try one a nav-app for one of those before buying maps for the family
5) 7 day trial, might be usage days or device days because mine has a date pretty far out there. Only used it on the tablet once - there was an awful lot of issues with it staying on my trip - maybe my tablet has bad satellite reception?
6) Turn-by-turn voice directions - The Garmin* got us accustomed to this idea 15 years ago, a real must for automotive navigation.
The second impression:
This app is very Timilizable and enough like my previous nav-tools that I didn't have any problem getting it pointed toward my house. I did have to run through some selection screens like language, etc. upon first launch. One nice feature is you can download maps one continent, country, or state at a time. Product options currently include North America, United States, Canada, and a long list of other countries. Bonus of having TomTom maps as
their partner I'll guess. I live in one state, I downloaded the ~60MB file for just my state - over WiFi!
The default user data entry path to get your destination into the app is not my favorite model, but I have seen it both on one of my earlier Garmin's* as well as the app we put on our first iPhone. The flow is just a little too regimented for me. Essentially you must fill a separate field for each detailed line in an address "backwards" from how you'd put it on an envelope. I do hope there's an option to have the app search for an address I type in like Google* maps and the iPhone* maps allow. What do I mean?
Here's the process:
USA <TAB> State <TAB> City <TAB> Street Number <TAB> Street <TAB> Zip Code <SEARCH> <SCROLL><SELECT>
That's a lot of opportunity for fumble fingering even with the real keyboard. Not a deal breaker though. Put the phone in the windshield holder and started driving. About the time I left the parking lot she started telling me where to go, so I have named her - probably inappropriate for this blog - so imagine what I would call a women who tells me where to go. Directions were clear, accurate, and timely enough to be helpful. Graphics look good and track well with the journey. Soon though, I noticed the speed limit graphic said "40" in a 25 MPH zone. I was bummed, thought the map data was wrong. Then I looked at the units - defaults to Metric. 3 stoplights and 6-10 screens later I found the setting and changed it to more familiar to me standard units. In addition to miles it gives the options of feet or yards. New feature to me and nice, if I ever want to change it though, might want to do that at home. She continued to guide me through the countryside giving me audible & visual warnings of railroad crossings and larger intersections. Somehow she KNEW the stretch where I had a head-on collision 15 years ago and warned me there too. I guess she may have been highlighting the intersection of 2 highways, but with all Edward Snowden knows I'm sure she's got more on me than my home address.
Ms. Smartie-pants GPS Navigator's route to my house was not the exact route I take, so I strayed. She re-aligned her path and displayed what looked like my way. About 1 mile into it she told me to take a safe U-Turn. Oh well, she eventually figured it out. I made it home and the Sygic-GPS Navigation knew where I was all the way down to a pretty accurate altitude. She and whatever else was running on the phone used about 15% of the battery in a 45 minute drive. Contributors to battery drain include screen staying on the whole drive, and nav-app requiring I turn off airplane-mode - I had earlier discovered this phone allows me to turn off the radios that connect to the cellular towers and run just WiFi or Bluetooth or both. However, seems the turn-by-turn directions or the phone need airplane-mode off (aka all radios available) to have the GPS receivers running. Turn-by-turn GPS Navigation eats my iPhone battery too, so I'm very satisfied with this experience. Since the maps are on the phone and if I had a navigator it would be pretty easy to setup a trip while stationary, turn off the radios, and have my human assistant touchscreen me through the journey old-school, saving power. Then again, I could just plug the thing into the aux power port (cigarette lighter for you old timers).
This nav-app may be the thing, device and service are feeling more and more like something my kids and I can certainly use. Jury is still out on the less tech-tolerant. There are many Timizable options in Android - might be just a few too many for some. I'm more than OK with this experience so far.
2 days of use, still no spending on service. Voicemail worked - didn't hear any ringing though. Voicemail delivered in e-mail. This can work.