One built-in feature that has been a glaring omission from the iOS ecosystem is turn-by-turn navigation. In the keynote at WWDC, Apple unveiled that a new feature in iOS 6.0 is a redesigned map application. This will include turn-by-turn navigation.
That said, the turn-by-turn navigation will only be available on the iPhone 4S and above. Even though the iPhone 4S only supports turn by turn navigation, iOS 6.0 will run on iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4, as well. Motion X – GPS Drive brings turn-by-turn navigation to any iOS device running at least iOS 3.0. Let’s go deeper into it after the jump.
First, it is important to note that the app does not include voice guidance just for the price of admission. The voice guidance can be purchased using an in-app purchase model. At the time of writing, the one year voice guidance package was on sale for $9.99. It should be interesting to see how the price fluctuates for this functionality after the release of iOS 6 this fall.
The app provides several different type of map views that can be used even without using the voice guidance and turn-by-turn functionality. The maps included are 3D, 2D road, aerial, hybrid and traffic. I found the traffic map to be the most useful one out the previously listed solutions. I never encountered any problems or errors while using the traffic map to adjust my route. It also should be noted that Motion X – GPS Drive uses Bing to provide the map data.
While in the map view of Motion X – GPS Drive, a spinning globe will communicate the GPS signal quality. If the globe is red then the signal is poor. When a blue and green globe is spinning then the signal is great.
In the bottom toolbar of the app is access to the search, music and menu. The search allows users to search for addresses, items by category and to browse. When first loading the search menu you will notice it is presented in a wheel format with separate categories surrounding the wheel. Some of the categories include address book contacts, airports, gas stations and restaurants.
The search function, along with other categories surround the wheel as well. Using the search functionality will allow the user to search for specific places that are around them, or the user can specify the location in which to perform the search. The address search functionality works well if you are copying an address from another application or typing it out.
A great feature in Motion X – GPS Drive is the built in music functionality. Before playing any songs you are first required to import the songs into the app. You can import by the songs, artist, playlist and by other options which are available in the Music app. Once you are done importing, the album art displays of the currently playing song along with the music controls.
The app also supports backgrounding which allows users to use other music services such as Spotify or Rdio or maybe listening to a podcast from Instacast. While using the built-in functionality of the music player is easier, the ability to put the app in the background and turn another audio source is a useful feature.
The menu button offers quick access to several areas of the app including Search, Navigation, Compass, Start Navigation, Go To, Directions List, My Position and Settings. All of the items are fairly self-explanatory, but I wanted to provide a little more detail for a few of them. The My Position functionality will show the user the current Latitude and Longitude, speed, altitude, and the direction currently heading.
Located within the settings menu is the option to turn on the park spot feature when arriving at your location. This can be a great way to always remind yourself to set the parking spot location, and thus never forget where you parked.
Another useful feature within the My Position section of the app is the Share location. This can be great as well to share your current location with a friend.
The Go To option on the menu provides quick access to get directions to the previously set up home destination, recently found destinations, frequent destinations, parking spots and more. I found myself using the Recently Found option a lot, and it was great if I could not remember the address to a previously found destination.
While all of the previous discussed details seem great, how is it as a turn-by-turn GPS? I thought the turn-by-turn directions were great. I never encountered any errors or any incorrect routes. I even tested with destinations that I knew the proper and quickest way to get there, and Motion X – GPS Drive selected that route.
On one occurrence, my wife and I attended a wedding out of town. We used Motion X – GPS Drive to get us to the city and it worked great. The reception was close to the church but we were not sure exactly where it was located. Since I was driving I had my wife look up directions using the Mapsapp on her iPhone. Well, Maps led us to a random spot about five miles away from the reception and kept insisting this was the appropriate spot. I decided to pull over and load the route in Motion X – GPS Drive. About ten minutes later, we pulled into the reception.
While using the turn-by-turn navigation, the map will show the highlighted route. At the top of the map a message center will display the next action and give you a distance remaining until the next action. Scrolling at the top below the iOS menu bar is the Distance Remaining, the Estimated Time of Arrival and the Time Remaining. While on the route, a user can navigate to the menu and use it to find restaurants and other items on the way. The items that populate the list can be displayed by the Around Me, On Route, Destination, or by specifying the location. I used the On Route option a lot since it seemed to show the closest items to the route being traveled.
The voice guidance is a great feature to have in a GPS client, but it does cost extra. When first purchasing the app, the user will have the option to obtain one free month of voice navigation. After that, extending it will require an in-app purchase. Within the settings menu more voices can be purchased to customize the experience further. All of the voices can be purchased for $0.99 each.
I was pleasantly surprised with how the app performed with most aspects. It should be noted that using the turn-by-turn navigation and voice guidance will drain the battery significantly if not plugged into a power source. It seems for me that the battery level would stay roughly the same amount it was at using the GPS and simultaneously playing music, so it should be noted that it might not be the best idea to use the turn-by-turn and voice guidance if you are wanting to charge your phone in the car.
One Feature Request
Throughout the testing process there was always one feature that I wish was currently in place. I wish the speed limit for the current road being traveled would be displayed. I know screen real estate is important on the iPhone and a lot of users would rather not see it, but when I am in an unfamiliar place I think it would be really useful.
Motion X – GPS Drive is a full featured GPS app which includes several features that make it stand out from the standard Maps app. While iOS 6 will include this functionality, it has yet to be seen if the updated Maps app will be as reliable and full featured as Motion X – GPS Drive. For me, Motion X – GPS Drive has replaced the currently available Maps app due to the reliability of the data and ease of use. If you are looking for turn-by-turn navigation with voice guidance, then Motion X – GPS Drive is worth a look.
Motion X - GPS Drive provides functionality that has been missing in the standard iOS Maps app by providing turn-by-turn navigation and voice guidance.9