Eight features that a 5-star GPS navigator should have

There was a time when all that a GPS device needed to do was get you from point A to point B -- preferably alive and in one piece. Over time, we began to expect so much more. We wanted hands-free calling, syncing of contacts, large databases of local destinations, and traffic data. The bar for what counted as a good GPS device had to be raised.

That bar is still rising, faster yet and higher than ever now that GPS navigators must compete with smartphones and tablets. Simply getting from point A to point B isn't enough when … Read more

Top third-party public transit apps for iOS

By now most everyone knows about Apple's deficient Maps app in iOS 6 -- particularly those who counted on the former Google-powered app for public transit directions. Apple CEO Tim Cook publically apologized for the Maps app and said the company is working to make the app better. But in the meantime, if you need public transit directions, you're going to have to rely on third-party apps from the App Store.

Before you start sifting through hundreds of transit apps, I put together this collection so you can get the help you need right away. It's important … Read more

Waze socializes navigation

Any developer making navigation apps for the iPhone has to be looking at the impending arrival of Apple Maps with fear, as it will come pre-installed on iOS 6 and offer turn-by-turn voice prompts for free. But Waze can make a few arguments why its navigation app trumps the upcoming Apple Maps.

The Waze app's initial focus was crowd-sourced traffic, and it has evolved to offer full-blown, free navigation. Its social focus is something that Apple Maps will have a difficult time duplicating, but also limits Waze's usefulness in some areas. Waze's traffic features make it useful … Read more

MapQuest 4 Mobile

In the online maps space, Google may draw more attention, but MapQuest, online years earlier, has continued to improve its service. And among iPhone apps, MapQuest can boast a crucial feature over Google Maps, free turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts.

MapQuest's history as a mapping company shows up in the app's interface. Unlike navigation-focused apps, the MapQuest app does little to help users look up destinations. At the top of the map the main screen shows a free form search box where users can enter an address or business name. There are no buttons for previous or favorite … Read more

Sync Destinations app updated with Ford Sync AppLink compatibility

LAS VEGAS--You'd think that Ford's own Sync Destinations app would be among the select few that offer connectivity with the automaker's voice-controlled Sync AppLink technology, but oddly it wasn't...until now.

Ford has announced an updated version of the Sync Destinations app for iPhone that gives drivers voice control over the app when connected to an AppLink-enabled vehicle. Like the original app, users will be able to save favorite destinations and access driving directions and traffic reports to them utilizing their cloud-based Sync Services account. However, now users can simply speak the commands "Mobile Apps,&… Read more

Google, Facebook top Internet destinations in 2011

Search was still more important than being social on the Web in 2011--but not by much.

Google edged out Facebook as the top Internet destination this year, according to data released today by market researcher Nielsen. The Web giant logged 153.4 million average unique visitors per month, compared with the social-networking giant's 137.6 million.

Yahoo came in at No. 3 with 130.1 million unique monthly visitors, while Microsoft's MSN/WindowsLive/Bing and Google's YouTube filled out the Top 5.

While Google was tops in overall Web properties, Facebook remained firmly entrenched as No. 1 … Read more

TripAdvisor, now in your pocket

TripAdvisor is the comprehensive companion app to the popular travel Web site of the same name. It's a great resource for discovering hotels, restaurants, and things to do in destinations all around the world. It even lets you read reviews, talk in forums, and look through tons of photos shot by other travelers.

From the main Dashboard, you can jump directly into a section, and conduct a search for Hotels, Restaurants, or Things to do. But the better way to use the app is through the global search tool at the top of the screen, which pulls up all … Read more

Sync your ride from your phone

Ford released a free mobile app that gives drivers access to some of Sync's travel features even when they're not in the car.

The Ford Sync Destinations app is like a mobile version of the Travel Destination and Information (TDI) service available on Sync-equipped autos. The service, which is free for the first three years, provides turn-by-turn directions, traffic incidents, travel time to destinations, and other information.

Using the new app, drivers of 2010 and 2011 Sync-equipped cars will have that same information on their mobile device. In fact, the app is arguably better than what's available … Read more

Exclusive: Stuffit 2011 for Mac

These days, most file compression activities are baked into your operating system, but there are still plenty of reasons to get a specialized compression utility. With StuffIt 2011 for Mac--exclusive to CNET Downloads today--you can create customized "Destinations" that let you drag and drop files or folders for automated compression and sending. Want to compress to ZIP format and upload via FTP, for example? With a quick setup, you can create your custom destination beforehand with your preferred compression algorithm, and you'll never have to worry about flipping through menus for this destination again. To top … Read more

GM recruits MapQuest to cut out the middleman

General Motors and MapQuest have teamed up on a new service enabling drivers of GM's OnStar-enabled cars to use the Web to select and store destinations for their turn-by-turn guidance when out on the road. The new service, called OnStar Web Destination Entry, will allow drivers to find up to five destinations on MapQuest's Web site, then send them to the OnStar system directly from their computers.

The theory goes that these destinations can then be accessed while out on the road by connecting to the OnStar service center and selecting a stored destination via OnStar's automated … Read more