When it comes to turn-by-turn iPhone applications it seems like there are only a few options; TomTom, Navigon, or the AT&T Navigator which is month to month. This isn’t to say there are others, there are many, but finding a good one can be difficult. If you purchase a crappy turn by turn application and get lost, or just dislike the application in general you can be out quite a bit of money. What’s worse is that the reviews can range from completely useless, sway both ways, or praise the brand and not product.
I was provided with a key to the affordable turn-by-turn application called NDrive [iTunes Link]. At $32.99 this is a fully contained application which weighs in at a hefty 1.48GB. Not only is this application cheaper than the rival companies such as TomTom or Navigon but it uses the same maps (Q3 2009 Navteq). Once you remove the trivial differences such as the UI or voices you’re left with a GPS app that can get you to where you need to go just as well as the heavy hitters.
Immediately you can see that NDrive offers a few features not seen in its competitors. The 3D building feature (available in select cities) is great for down town driving. In most of the driving I do with the assistance of a GPS I only see flat areas so this won’t help me too much. It would have been great to have while driving downtown Cleveland, those streets are a nightmare and seeing landmarks would have helped tremendously.
So how does NDrive perform compared to say TomTom? They both autocomplete address input and put their own spin on the UI so it’s a toss up. Both of these applications get me to where I need to go and with very little fuss. If you want to save a few bucks then NDrive is the application for you, and I say that without selling out. I’ve tested out all the major GPS turn-by-turn applications for the iPhone and for a cheapass like myself this is the one to get.
There are a lot of complains about NDrive and the first seems to be the UI. I don’t care for the UI as much as TomToms but at the end of the day you’ll spend little time looking at it and more time driving. There appears to be a few bugs which I have yet to experience. One of my biggest complaints is that it sometimes will not show you the exit number you need to take while on the expressway. This feature has been promised in an update but the ETA on that I do not know. A lot of people want to be able to hear the next turn spoken instead of just “Left turn ahead” which would be nice but I expect half the time I wouldn’t understand the robotic speaker anyway.
NDrive is not without its flaws and the same can be said for TomTom. Sometimes I want to throw my iPhone out of the window when TomTom takes ages to get a fix on a satellite while NDrive picks me up immediately. Either way there will always be quirks. Currently TomTom is offering their United States only navigation app for $50 which is pretty steep but only $18 away from NDrive. In the end it’s a toss up. If you want to get a windshield mount and a GPS app then grab NDrive.
For as many negative reviews there are people like myself who seem to have no problem using NDrive. You just have to keep in mind the limitations of the iPhone and don’t expect it to perform as fast as a dedicated solution. I’ll tell you one thing, if this application was garbage I wouldn’t be promoting it on my site.
Check out the NDrive for the iPhone on their site here and do some research for yourself. There is a full user guide you can read to get a better feel for the app as well.