(by Richard @ Bizmarts: Jan. 2016)
- General Purpose GPS POI Editor: there are several free and user supported editors available including Turbo CCC, EasyPOI, and several others; but one of the best, IMHO, is one created for use in the TomTom environment: here is the URL for the main site: http://softop.tomtomusers.com/TomPoiEdr/
- Best simple, low-cost, dedicated GPS Vehicle model: Garmin Nuvi 200 or Nuvi 205W for the 4.3″ model
- Highly recommended on/offline GPS application for vehicles: for both Android and iOS: Sygic , others include Here, Waze, or Scout
- Best OSM based for road/off-road & offline GPS: OsMand for both Android and iOS
The undisputed champ in the applications segment is Google Maps which runs on PC/Mac/Android/iOS/Linux. Following close behind are the free and freemium segment lead by Sygic, Here, Waze, Mapfactor, and even the venable Mapquest. And then there are the staunchly “pay-for-use” group lead by Garmin, TomTom, Magellan, and CoPilot. When selecting an app, one of the first considerations is whether you need offline access, as that ramps up the requirements significantly. If so, you will need to store maps, waypoints, and POIs in an SD card on your device, have a potent GPS radio/antenna, voice activation, locking capability and a modest cost, especially if you frequently travel interstate or internationally. Second considerations include how accurate your maps/POI’s need to be, and how easy, or difficult updating each segment is on a continuing basis. And third, how easy or difficult is the interface and display. A cluttered menu system while at rest may not be an issue, but a cluttered display while navigating through intersections may be hard to accept.
Bitching & Moaning
- Using vs charging a stand-alone GPS: We have purchased at least six AC/DC chargers for our Garmin’s, and most are designed to only permit the device to be charged when the “cigarette lighter” socket is engaged, not to provide operating power to the device for using the maps in real-time navigation. When plugged in most will put the Garmin’s in “charge” state only which obviously is useless for navigation. Supposedly the only chargers that will permit this function is the Garmin and the Gomadic – both of which are selling at +/- $20.00 whereas the charge only units are less than $5.00, including shipping.
- Nagging by the OEM’s: On our Android and iOS units we are constantly prodded to buy some feature, whether it is POI’s, updated maps, or ancillary functions, even on apps claiming to be “free forever”. At least with the stand-alone units once you buy it that’s essentially it, except these OEM’s too will prod buyers annually to update the installed maps, which is absurd, since Geo maps based on OSM data are NOT updated annually, and much of the ancillary functions offered add nothing worthwhile to the capabilities of the units. On the Sygic app there is a 7 day trial period for the basic installation, but if not upgraded to Premium a user loses “turn by turn” navigation, voice instructions, and other minor features. While a lifetime license for the Sygic is only $24.00 US,compared to the $50+ demanded by Garmin, CoPilot, and others, it still compares unfavorably with other “free” Android/iOS apps.
- Inaccurate data: Today while I was driving to town and using the full featured Sygic app on an iPhone, the speed sign on the Sygic display said the speed limit was 90 mph…while the posted limit is 35 mph. It was also slow to recognize which lane I was in when a road separated into parallel paths. On the CoPilot unit it completely goes numb for several seconds. Using my laptop with either Streets and Trips or DeLorme’s Street Atlas neither of these happen. Parking lot and airport decks are another frequent source of incorrect information.
- Cross platform compatibility: Owners of multiple O/S systems will be unhappy too with the licensing limitations for the paid version of most GPS apps as stated in a response to the question: “I have both Android and iOS devices, so can I buy the Premium edition and install it on both devices” The reply was from Peter Hodovsky at Sygic Support:
Peter Hodovsky (Sygic Support) Jan 3, 11:46
Thank you for contacting Sygic. Unfortunately it is not possible to use one premium license on both platforms due to the licensing policies of Google and Apple that do not accept any paid license transfers between iOS and Android. The only way you can use the licenses on both phones is to purchase a license separately for each one.”
- Security: Of interest in the use of these devices is both the physical security of the devices; but more importantly the data contained on them or dispersed to OEMs and the Cloud based on the EULA agreement. For example, is there any problem with authority figures being able to obtain information from your GPS about where and when you have been somewhere? How about if they can do that without being in possession of the device, or requesting your permission?