Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sort of Turn-by-turn navigation

Well, yes, there is some sort of turn-by-turn navigation software available. But (and this but will be a big one), you will have to jailbreak your iPhone, which it ain't worth it. Yet.

xGPS, as far as I know, was developed mainly for the first iPhone to work with external GPS receivers (or at least the project started there). It is based more or less completely on Google Maps: maps, route calculation and turn by turn directions. So you do have to have an online connection all the time.
Well, perhaps not all the time as xGPS incorporates an offline mode. There even is a map downloader mode so that you could prepare your trip by downloading all maps needed first and then go offline, but you won't have route re-calculation then (altough you can save routes once calculated for offline usage).

Beside that, turn-by-turn directions are text-only and also available only in english. Unfortunately, the text is so small that you can just read it holding the phone in your hand but surely not while driving your car. Apart from that, the UI is very tidy, which is a good thing in general.

Watch the video:

As you can see, the directions are quite small and hard to read. If you haven't found them yet, they are at the top of the screen.
Beside that, you won't get any acoustic feedback, ever. No "beep" or whatever when you arrive the next turn and also no warning sound if you leave the route or head in the wrong direction (there will be a big, red, flashing sign, though).

If you leave the route or take the wrong direction, re-calculation will take ages. Well, okay, not quite as long as that but definedly much longer than what is OK while driving a vehicle.

All together, xGPS is quite nice (espechially if you don't have an iPhone 3G), but it is far away from being a usable turn-by-turn navigator.

If the developers would add acoustic feedback and maybe a screen that would display a big arrow in the direction of the next turn alongside with the driving directions text in way bigger letters for let's say 10 seconds before the turn, xGPS would become way more usable.
Anyway, that would still be far worse than what you get on every personal navigation device today.
I don't want to nag around, the guys from xGPS sure have done a great job, but it sadly is far away from usability and not worth the effort (of jailbreaking and so on) yet. But I think they're already working on it ;)


  1. This software is certainly worth a jailbreak (jailbreaking is very simple these days). The other nice thing is that the xGPS software is FREE. It works anywhere in the world where Google maptiles are available. Also, voice navigation is planned for the next version 1.2. Further, every next turn is indicated by a purple circle on the screen and very easy to see. Even although the directions are printed relatively small, you can actually read them if your phone is place on the dash, e.g. on one of the vents or above your radio. Also, you can store maps and directions for offline use, which is great for the iPod Touch. The software also works with a variety of GPS modules: xGPS module from Xwaves, iGPS360 module from Orange Gadgets, the iPhone 3G built-in GPS, Holux 1200 GPS, and it has a fake software GPS as well. All in all, it is a work in progress, but it is impressive how fast the software has developed and how quick bugs and additional options are added. If you haven't tried it, you certainly should. Worth a jailbreak indeed.

  2. Sorry to say so (and no offense), but I completely disagree.

    The software sure is nice and the guys who made it have made a BIG effort, my respect!

    But it is far far away from being usable by any means. It is state-of-the-art in a 1999 way, so 10 years ago this might have been the uber navi, but from a 2009 perspective, it is hopelessly outdated.

    But I think we will all see where this is going.

  3. Hi Bebef,

    Thanks for your blog. Iv read several of the articles, and how I found it was by trying to figure out more about the antenna.
    I notice U'v not reviewed MotionX's GPS software and wonder why. I'm not affiliated, but use this software daily.
    Please also contact me by mail for some additional info.

  4. Hi. I would like to know if you can help me or indicate where can i find my answers. In the most of times i can't get my GPS's iPhone connected to the satellities. I'm from Brazil, and i live in copacabana. I bought my iphone past one week i i was able to connect to the satellites only once, a cloudy day. The others days, sunnys and blue skys nothing of signal. I was in the beach all the times, but the satellite signal show nonthing! There is some upgrade to the iPhone GPS, or the GPS antena? Maybe some software, or configuration?

    Thanks for the help em i would like to apologize if it's not the right channel to post my problem. If you know where can i find my answer, please i would like to know

    ps: sorry for some english errors..

    Thanks again