In the face of a few solid free navigation apps for the iPhone, such as Bing or MapQuest, MotionX GPS Drive would seem to have trouble justifying its price, even at only 99 cents. But it has proven a popular enough navigation app that Pioneer integrated it with the AppRadio head unit.
Two features of MotionX GPS Drive give it an edge over the free apps, its destination search capabilities and the ability to preload maps. MotionX GPS Drive is a connected navigation app, meaning it relies on an iPhone's data connection to get its maps. However, it is not completely useless without a data connection. After finding a destination, it gives the option of preloading maps for the route, so with a little foresight the app remains useful away from cell towers.
Testing the preload option, the app took 14 minutes on a Wi-Fi connection to download the maps for a destination a little more than 50 miles away. Over a 3G or even 4G connection, that amount of time would only increase, limiting the practicality of preloading maps on the fly.
The excellent variety of maps available in MotionX includes basic 2D and 3D views, satellite imagery, and a view that overlays street names on the satellite imagery. Traffic information is shown on a separate map, restricted to a 2D North up view. That data should be integrated with the other maps; it is odd to make drivers call up a different map than the one they are using for navigation just to see if there is a traffic jam ahead. The app also does not appear to actively route around serious traffic jams.
When using preloaded maps, only the 2D and 3D views are available, as including satellite maps would increase the download time.
The other feature of MotionX GPS Drive setting it apart from the free competition are its multiple destination search options. A nice wheel interface holds buttons for searching Bing, Wikipedia, the phone's own address book, and a variety of online points-of-interest categories. It also allows manual entry of an address, and can integrate with a Facebook account, navigating to friends' recent check-in locations.
It also includes lists of saved, favorite, frequent, and recently found destinations. But these lists are hidden in a separate menu, away from the destination search options, which is a bit confusing.
Route guidance proved generally good, with graphics indicating the direction and distance to the next turn. The app knew what side of the street a destination was on, and included instructions for making U-turns when the initial approach was on the wrong side of the street. The settings menu includes an option to choose whether MotionX GPS Drive selects the fastest or shortest route. It does not calculate multiple routes, and let the driver choose which one to use, as some other navigation apps do.
On one trip, it calculated a route down some side streets that seemed like they would become a little slow and tedious. We ignored that turn, and the app promptly recalculated, letting us stay on a larger street.
Using a preloaded map in an area without a phone connection, we purposefully made a wrong turn, going off on a side road. The app recalculated, showing a new route on the preloaded maps. The preloaded maps covered a good bit of territory to either side of the programmed route, too, so most wrong turns should be covered when navigating offline.
Very useful for navigation, especially with an iPhone app, are voice prompts. MotionX GPS Drive has them, but, after a 30-day free trial, charges a subscription of $9.99 per year to keep them active. Although the prompts include freeway names, they don't say the name of streets, which can be frustrating in areas where there are a lot of short blocks. When the app says "Turn right here" it might not be clear which exact street it means.
Another useful feature is the app's ability to tweet or e-mail its current location. One key feature we always look for in a navigation app is the ability to cancel the current route. MotionX GPS Drive makes it reasonably easy, just requiring three touches. From the map, we had to hit the Menu or Search button, then hit the Stop navigation button, after which it wanted a confirmation.
MotionX GPS Drive for iPhone turns any iPhone 3G or 3GS into the next generation car and pedestrian navigation solution. MotionX introduces new features not yet seen on mobile devices, including "door-to-door" personal navigation tools, user interface innovations that greatly simplify the navigation experience, and integration of live search capabilities.
- Live Maps - Turns seem more accurate than Tom Tom - Screen size readable on dash - Cost, Cost, Cost, Cost - Voice is clear
- Voice does not name streets - GPS is interrupted on incoming calls
This product is amazing and at such a low cost Accurate directions and the live maps add to the excitement. Adding street names for voice, and stopping the incoming calls interruption is my only con. But this has really been a lifesaver.
Very fast routing Accurate and up to date maps/street names Easy to use interface Caches frequently used maps for offline access (common routes you take) Tells you to prepare for your turn ahead of time Excellent pricing Ipod control
Does not speak the actual names of streets Does not have downloaded maps, so requires a cellular connection to update maps No Traffic updates yet
Overall I love this program. It is very cheap, efficient and great. Pricing for it is 2.99/month for voice guidance, or 24.99/year. As mentioned above you get 30 days free to test it out. One thing I really like is that it still tracks your progress on the route via the gps chip even when you have no data connection. However your maps will gray out and won't show street names, but you can still see your highlighted route. As mentioned in the Pro's, it caches maps of routes you drive frequently so even with no cellular connection, those will still be visible, though those routes are also where you don't need a gps for guidance. I tested this along side my Sony NVU-44 (albeit it's outdated), and this provided much more accurate and updated directions compared to the stand-alone unit. This can easily be rectified by updating my maps for the unit. Since maps are provided via cellular network, they will always be up to date, and the MotionX company has always made solid programs and updated them frequently. This also has ipod playback capabilities via playlists or the entire library. The voice prompts are very easy to listen to and not to harsh sounding, and music playback is immediately picked back up with no delay. I highly recommend this program for someone looking into gps programs for their phone and the price is definitely right in my eyes. It doesn't have traffic updates or spoken street names, but I don't see why those can't be added at a later date.