Earlier this year when Apple hosted WWDC one of the apps that was featured during the Keynote was the TomTom navigational app. Everyone was wowed by the app and what it could offer users as opposed to a separate GPS device in your car. You now had the opportunity for an all in 1 Device. GPS+Phone+Supercomputer all in one. There was a long silence after that, and then suddenly the app appeared on the app store at $99, and a further $99 for the cradle kit. It seemed a bit steep for both of them put together given that GPS devices are now round about the same price as that.
South Africa had to wait a bit for their mapsets to appear on the app store, but eventually they arrived with Navigon making its entrance first. TomTom was available sneaky sneaky, but has since made it debut in the app store. Finally NDrive, a relatively unknown GPS provider also came onto the scene with their app. So far NDrive seems to be the most popular in terms of reviews from users on the South African app store, because both Navigon & TomTom mapsets in the app are hugely outdated. With road name changes taking place in South Africa daily, and all the road upgrades & changes being made for next years World Cup, the mapsets need to be fully up to date and upgraded regularly.
I thought I would take a quick look at the 3 apps on offer as well as provide some links to the reviews to see what the people are saying. Most of the reviews I have found have been on the South African app store.
Mobile Navigator Southern Africa (Opens iTunes)
Price: $99.99 (±R770)
iTunes Rating: 3.5 stars – Comments Link
Comments: Reading through most of the reviews online people are really upset by the fact on how outdated the maps are, and how slow the app is. The mapset seems to be from around 2007, which doesn’t really cut it given the changes to the roads since then. This is the most expensive app out of the lot, and has received a number of 1 star reviews in the app store.
Tom Tom Southern Africa (Opens iTunes)
Price: $79.99 (±R620)
Mapset: TomTom Mapset
iTunes Rating: 3.5 – Comments Link
Comments: Again, reading through the comments the maps seem very out of date. I have seen a version of this app on a mates phone, and being TomTom fan, I wasn’t hugely impressed. The app seems really slow and “clunky”. I expected a bit more out the TomTom app given the hype that surrounded it at WWDC. Hopefully they can redeem themselves by bringing out an update to see the new road changes in South Africa. Out of the 3, it also looks the most “basic” to me.
NDrive South Africa (Opens iTunes)
Price: $69.99 (±R540)
Size: 144 MB
Mapset: Mapit (Q3 2009)
iTunes Rating: 4.5 – Comments Link
Comments: Judging by the comments on the review in the app store, it would seem that this is the best GPS navigational app in South Africa so far. The fact that they are using a local company for the mapset, Mapit, and it is the latest version, says something about the app. It is also the cheapest of the 3. I also saw a really cool option in the screenshots that allows you to see some of the buildings in 3D. It also has a built in Adventure mode, which allows you to use it while walking or geocaching.
By the looks of things NDrive takes the cake with this one, but I am really hoping that TomTom & Navigon comes to the party and updates the mapsets. We have fantastic mapping companies in South Africa, and they should be using them. I still wonder why the likes of Garmin haven’t come to the party. Added to the fact that there is talk of the Google Maps app becoming a fully fledged navigational app, it is sure going to be an interesting few months ahead.