Monday, 21 March 2011

NavFree Uk and Ireland

The wonderful world of apps, so how did we live without them before? Well in the case of this app we looked at a map or just drove / cycled around for a bit longer (being male of course I followed stereotype and never asked for directions).

What is this app? Well it is a free navigation system for your iPhone – is it useful, you bet ya! This app basically costs nothing – it is a community led app – if you notice something wrong with the route / map you come across as you travel then you can send in an amendment.

It does not have a “choose a cycle route” option as with some apps (which are not sat navs though) and it does not show where those pesky hills are, but this is because it is aimed at car usage. But what is does do is show shortest route option etc. It is basically the same as my in car sat nav – but it is better in that I can select the whole post code rather than just the first 5 digits – I have not so far been able to select a house number at the post code – but that ability is not really here or there. It gives you turn by turn instructions (though the final turn instructions is said a little late). More importantly you can have your music on (I know safety etc.) and the music dies down whilst it speaks the next turn and then goes back on.

As you obviously cannot look at a screen whilst cycling the voice prompts are crucial and the ability to have this on your phone, so you can listen to music and answer calls (you have to buy an alternate set of earphones from the standard iPhone ones but they are very cheap on eBay) without having to have different bits of electronics in your jacket pockets. I like it a lot – it’s route selection is as good and in some cases better than stand alone sat navs, it is compact as you can have it on your iPhone and it has saved me more than a few times when I am on a cycle ride and get lost, even if it is sometimes you just need to stop and have a quick look at a map. Just in case you are wondering it picks up a GPS signal perfectly even when under two layers of clothes.

My only real gripe with it is that you need to leave you screen on (it does this automatically) for the voice announcements to work properly. Obviously this burns up your battery faster and is a waste of time as you can’t look at the screen when cycling and you have you phone in your pocket with the directions coming via voice in your headphones. That and the slightly late final turn instructions stop this from being the perfect sat nav – but it is free and much better than I had expected despite this fact. It will over time be improved and I am sure these minor niggles will be removed – but if you go on longer rides and sometimes get lost or want to find better shorter routes for your daily commute then I really recommend it.

Link to NavFree - for IPhone

Mambo Score - 8/10 (or 10/10 if you take into account it is free - how can you complain).

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