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These days, a smartphone is expected to do more than just field calls and text messages. Increasingly, users are ditching paper maps in favor of handheld screens, and if you’re the owner of a shiny new Windows Phone 8, you’re holding one of the most potent navigational tools on the market today. Unbeknownst to many, Nokia has been producing world-class maps for years, and the company’s recent ties to Microsoft has brought a lot of that expertise to the Windows phone’s platform. If you’re ever in rural places with weak mobile coverage, or in foreign countries where you’d rather not run up a high roaming bill just to navigate, it’s worth it to understand your offline options. Read more
These days, a smartphone is expected to do more than just field calls and text messages. Increasingly, users are ditching paper maps in favor of handheld screens, and if you’re the owner of an Android smartphone, you just so happen to own one of the most powerful routing devices on the planet. Google’s own mapping system is arguably the most robust in the world, but even a world-class navigation system won’t do you much good if you wander off-grid. If you’re ever in rural places with weak mobile coverage, or in foreign countries where you’d rather not run up a high roaming bill just to navigate, it’s worth it to understand your offline options. Read more
These days, a smartphone is expected to do more than just field calls and text messages. Increasingly, users are ditching paper maps in favor of handheld screens, and judging by the backlash that Apple continues to receive after it launched a subpar Maps app inside of its latest iPhone software update, a solid navigation app is now an expectation. For those making the switch from dedicated navigation products – perhaps a Garmin or TomTom unit mounted in a vehicle – the iPhone offers plenty of similar functionality. But one area where phones in general fall short in performance is the offline mode. If you’re ever in rural places with weak mobile coverage, or in foreign countries where you’d rather not run up a high roaming bill just to navigate, it’s worth it to understand your offline options. Read more
If you recently picked up an iPhone 5, you may be looking for a new spate of travel apps to fill that extra row of icon space there at the bottom. But, even if you’re still using an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S, Apple’s new iOS 6 operating system has given app developers a new incentive to polish up their programs and issue updates in support of the latest and greatest. Despite Apple leaving city dwellers who rely on mass transit out in the cold with the new Maps application, third-party developers have been working hard to help the travelers who feel left out.
If the new TomTom-based Maps application in iOS 6 just isn’t passing muster, Navigon North America is a worthwhile purchase. Yes, it’s $50, but it’s well worth it for avid travelers. The backend uses Garmin maps, which have historically been superior to those offered by TomTom. The app has already been updated to take advantage of the iPhone 5′s larger display and the new code in iOS 6. Best of all, the company has included public transportation routing as a $2.99 in-app upgrade (which Apple’s own Maps app lacks entirely), and it features onboard maps that allow route calculations even in areas where cell coverage fades. Additional premium features include comprehensive lane guidance, speed limit and safety camera warnings, exit services, parking info, a trip planner, and multi-route display. It genuinely feels like a full-featured navigation device, but right on a phone that you’re already carrying. Plus, all future map updates are free once you buy the app once. (It’s worth noting that Navigon offers other routing apps that cover many regions of the globe for those who aren’t located in North America.) Read more
Windows Phone may be the new kid on the mobile block, but it’s quickly shaping up to be a reliable platform for travelers. The user interface is one of the most beautiful out there, and a number of developers are embracing the new landscape to produce some incredible programs. Here are a few can’t-miss downloads from the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Those who presently own a Lumia device should download the holy trinity of Nokia-built mapping apps: Drive, Transport and Maps. With Windows Phone 7.x, the only phones that can access these in the Marketplace are Lumia devices. With the release of Windows Phone 8 in the fall of 2012, however, all Windows Phone devices will be able to enjoy the spoils. Read more
Great news! There’s a new iPhone coming out, and better yet, the operating system that will ship on it can also be downloaded for free to those who presently own an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or iPhone 4S. For travelers, you may be wondering about that new Maps application that Apple has been talking up. If you haven’t heard, the Maps program in iOS 6 has been engineered by Apple (instead of Google, as it previously was). It relies on routing data from Yelp and TomTom, two respectable companies in the travel app universe.
The new Maps application looks better. It’s prettier, and zooming is snappier. Also, Siri can now be used to ask for turn-by-turn directions to points of interests or addresses. But there’s a secret that won’t please urban dwellers: the new Maps app has done away with mass transit routing.
While automotive routing and walking directions are included, Apple has not included routing instructions for buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation. There’s still an icon there, but tapping it will only point you to the App Store, where it will recommend third-party mass transit apps to (hopefully) guide you.
Making matters worse, Google has yet to unveil a standalone Maps app for users to download in the event that they want to use something more akin to what they’re used to. In all likelihood, Google’s holding out just so people who update to iOS 6 realize how good they had it. Or, how good they could have it if they switched the iPhone out for an Android device, which has the most unadulterated, travel-friendly version of Google Maps anywhere on a mobile platform.
When will Apple right this terrible wrong? It’s not saying, but those who rely very heavily on their iPhone to get them places via mass transit should hold off on the iOS 6 update for now. Once you update, you’ll be getting the hamstrung maps, like it or not.
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