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Any navigation app that doesn't incur data roaming charges?

bertietheblue

Standard Member
Hi

I want to navigate to various POIs in France (mainly free wifi hotspots and aires), but don't want to pay data roaming charges. (In the UK, I use Google Navigation but I'm on 3's One plan so no worries there.) So is there a Google Play app which allows me to navigate with data roaming switched off (I know I can cache Google Maps to navigate offline but map size is limited so this is not an option.)

If not, can you recommend a Sat Nav for my purposes and can I download onto Sat Nav maps similar to those in Google apps like free wifi finder, McDonalds maps, aires maps, etc?

Thanks
Bertie
 

rousetafarian

Moderator
I'll try to check over the weekend but I thought Google Maps was based on GPS and a lock, but I'm not technical and may be totally incorrect
 

Sonic67

Banned
The maps aren't stored on the phone. They are downloaded when the route is calculated. Some Android phones simply don't have the capacity to hold the mapping data for the entire globe.
 

DarkDogZA

Active Member
I have paid versions of Tom Tom's app for the UK/Ireland and South africa. Well worth the cost imo. I have tried out the free apps but from what I remember, map quality was not great
 

DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
I've bought the TomTom USA & Canada app for my iPhone for £40, for when we go to NY next week. It downloads the whole thing (1.5gB) onto the phone, and on a dry run looks really good. It wouldn't fit on my wife's TomTom device, which is only 1gB, but it's no more expensive on the iPhone, and to my mind at least as good as the dedicated device.

It works with data roaming turned off, or even in Airplane mode. It apparently normally uses signals from cell masts to supplement GPS, and opinion is divided over whether passive scanning is still on in Airplane mode, so it might not be so good in places like inner cities where the GPS signal is degraded.

I'll let you know in a week's time how well it got me through Manhattan, if you're still interested.
 

KeithO

Active Member
DPinBucks said:
I've bought the TomTom USA & Canada app for my iPhone for £40, for when we go to NY next week. It downloads the whole thing (1.5gB) onto the phone, and on a dry run looks really good. It wouldn't fit on my wife's TomTom device, which is only 1gB, but it's no more expensive on the iPhone, and to my mind at least as good as the dedicated device.

It works with data roaming turned off, or even in Airplane mode. It apparently normally uses signals from cell masts to supplement GPS, and opinion is divided over whether passive scanning is still on in Airplane mode, so it might not be so good in places like inner cities where the GPS signal is degraded.

I'll let you know in a week's time how well it got me through Manhattan, if you're still interested.

I've been considering getting the TomTom app for my Galaxy S3, to replace an aging standalone satnav, so I'd be really interested to know how,well it works. Is the user interface identical to the standalone TomTom?

Thanks
 

DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
I've been considering getting the TomTom app for my Galaxy S3, to replace an aging standalone satnav, so I'd be really interested to know how,well it works. Is the user interface identical to the standalone TomTom?

Thanks
OK, I'll post something here when I get back. :)

As far as I can tell, it's identical, although in fact it might even be faster. My wife's TT is an XL model with a smallish screen and, as I say, only 1gB. I don't know if others are the same. I don't use it all that much as my car has built-in sat nav.

One thing the app has which I don't think the XL does, though I may be wrong, is the ability to forward plan a route from any A to any B, ie like Google Maps you don't have to physically be at A. I've already found this useful in checking which way it will take me from Brooklyn to Cape Cod.

Oh, and the price includes free map updates for ever (max 4 updates per year)
 

KeithO

Active Member
DPinBucks said:
OK, I'll post something here when I get back. :)

As far as I can tell, it's identical, although in fact it might even be faster. My wife's TT is an XL model with a smallish screen and, as I say, only 1gB. I don't know if others are the same. I don't use it all that much as my car has built-in sat nav.

One thing the app has which I don't think the XL does, though I may be wrong, is the ability to forward plan a route from any A to any B, ie like Google Maps you don't have to physically be at A. I've already found this useful in checking which way it will take me from Brooklyn to Cape Cod.

Oh, and the price includes free map updates for ever (max 4 updates per year)

Thanks, it sounds good. I also have satnav in my car, but like to take a satnav with me on vacation if I'm hiring a car. I just figured that if the app works as well as the standalone devices, it's one less thing to carry!

Btw, you can do A to B planning on the standalone devices too (at least you can on mine)
 

DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
I've been considering getting the TomTom app for my Galaxy S3, to replace an aging standalone satnav, so I'd be really interested to know how,well it works. Is the user interface identical to the standalone TomTom?

Thanks
OK, I promised an update on the TomTom App, and here it is:

We have just used it for driving around New York (though not Manhattan), including JFK to/from Brooklyn and Long Island, and then on to Cape Cod for a few days.

This was the USA and Canada App, downloaded into my iPhone 4S; cost £39.99.

It was absolutely great. :thumbsup:

As it has the standard TomTom satnav features, there's no need to go into that part very deeply, so I'll concentrate on how well it worked on the phone.

Pros:
  • Extremely clear screen; the iPhone is a better screen than the standard TomTom one, I reckon, and it made good use of that. We had it propped up in front of the passenger's seat, and the important info at the bottom (distance to next 'event', direction symbol, etc) were easy to see from the driver's side;
  • Very accurate GPS. Like screen clarity, I guess this is down to the quality of the phone's system.
  • Fast GPS lock-on; handled short disruption (eg tunnel) very well;
  • Clear voice instructions, though not as good as the 'native' device, which is exceptional, in my opinion. There is a choice of voices.
Cons (none serious):
  • The iPhone screen is too small to view the map whilst driving, though it is very clear. An iPad may be better, but we didn't miss it;
  • The touch screen was a real nuisance at times. A single tap switches from guidance view to menu, and it's too easy to do this by accident whilst doing the 2-finger zoom. Another single tap restores the map, though.
  • Again, zooming the guidance map was tricky; it was too easy to overdo it. Switching to Browse Map worked better.
  • The guidance was decidedly dodgy on occasion. Why is it that all satnavs seem to have obsessions about certain roads? My in-car one here at home is obsessed with the M25 and will take us miles out of our way to use it. This TomTom app was equally obsessed with avoiding Route 28 on Cape Cod, even though our hotel was actually on it. We always use a road atlas as a reality check before setting off. On the other hand, it navigated us immaculately through the maze of freeways and parkways around Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. There is an option to avoid road tolls if you want.
  • Unless you are prepared to pay high roaming data costs (we weren't), or have a tariff which includes data, you must turn data roaming off on the phone. This means you can't get on-the-minute traffic data. We didn't miss it, as we don't normally use it over here, either. When you load it, the app puts up a warning "data services off" or something like that. Simply accept and carry on.
Other points:
  • I was mistaken earlier; the iPhone's Airplane mode does turn off the GPS. I used it all week in normal mode but, as I say above, with data roaming off.
  • GPS is a battery-killer, but I bought this from Amazon before I left
    Dual USB 2A 10W (fast) Heavy Duty Output Car Charger
    We kept the phone plugged in all day, and it charged it up to 100% whilst navigating. The 2nd USB slot was also useful for other gadgets in parallel.
All in all, amongst the best value £40 I've ever spent. To my mind, there is little point in buying a dedicated device if it works this well on a modern phone. Note that all the above is based on iPhone 4S/iOS 6. Other reviews imply it works just as well on Android, but I have no direct knowledge of that.

Hope this is useful. I've posted it here in case others are interested. If you have any more questions, please ask 'em.
 

KeithO

Active Member
DPinBucks said:
OK, I promised an update on the TomTom App, and here it is:

We have just used it for driving around New York (though not Manhattan), including JFK to/from Brooklyn and Long Island, and then on to Cape Cod for a few days.

This was the USA and Canada App, downloaded into my iPhone 4S; cost £39.99.

It was absolutely great. :thumbsup:

As it has the standard TomTom satnav features, there's no need to go into that part very deeply, so I'll concentrate on how well it worked on the phone.

Pros:

[*]Extremely clear screen; the iPhone is a better screen than the standard TomTom one, I reckon, and it made good use of that. We had it propped up in front of the passenger's seat, and the important info at the bottom (distance to next 'event', direction symbol, etc) were easy to see from the driver's side;
[*]Very accurate GPS. Like screen clarity, I guess this is down to the quality of the phone's system.
[*]Fast GPS lock-on; handled short disruption (eg tunnel) very well;
[*]Clear voice instructions, though not as good as the 'native' device, which is exceptional, in my opinion. There is a choice of voices.
Cons (none serious):

[*]The iPhone screen is too small to view the map whilst driving, though it is very clear. An iPad may be better, but we didn't miss it;
[*]The touch screen was a real nuisance at times. A single tap switches from guidance view to menu, and it's too easy to do this by accident whilst doing the 2-finger zoom. Another single tap restores the map, though.
[*]Again, zooming the guidance map was tricky; it was too easy to overdo it. Switching to Browse Map worked better.
[*]The guidance was decidedly dodgy on occasion. Why is it that all satnavs seem to have obsessions about certain roads? My in-car one here at home is obsessed with the M25 and will take us miles out of our way to use it. This TomTom app was equally obsessed with avoiding Route 28 on Cape Cod, even though our hotel was actually on it. We always use a road atlas as a reality check before setting off. On the other hand, it navigated us immaculately through the maze of freeways and parkways around Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. There is an option to avoid road tolls if you want.
[*]Unless you are prepared to pay high roaming data costs (we weren't), or have a tariff which includes data, you must turn data roaming off on the phone. This means you can't get on-the-minute traffic data. We didn't miss it, as we don't normally use it over here, either. When you load it, the app puts up a warning "data services off" or something like that. Simply accept and carry on.
Other points:

[*]I was mistaken earlier; the iPhone's Airplane mode does turn off the GPS. I used it all week in normal mode but, as I say above, with data roaming off.
[*]GPS is a battery-killer, but I bought this from Amazon before I left
Dual USB 2A 10W (fast) Heavy Duty Output Car Charger
We kept the phone plugged in all day, and it charged it up to 100% whilst navigating. The 2nd USB slot was also useful for other gadgets in parallel.
All in all, amongst the best value £40 I've ever spent. To my mind, there is little point in buying a dedicated device if it works this well on a modern phone. Note that all the above is based on iPhone 4S/iOS 6. Other reviews imply it works just as well on Android, but I have no direct knowledge of that.

Hope this is useful. I've posted it here in case others are interested. If you have any more questions, please ask 'em.

Great update, thanks very much for taking the time to do it. It sounds damn good, and I agree that if it works that well, there's little point in a dedicated satnav. I've already bought the same USA & Canada app for my android phone, so I hope it works as well as on your iPhone.

Good tip on the live traffic too

Again, many thanks!
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
Great thread, and thanks for the review.

I'm going to Hong Kong (where I won't be driving) and Australia (where I will, a bit) in May/June/July and seriously considering this. The iPhone App for Aus is £48 so a bit more, but I think it'll be worth it for the peace of mind. For example, we'll be picking up a car on the Sunshine Coast, using it for a few days, then dropping it off at Brisbane on the way up to Cairns, so I reckon it'll be worth the outlay - especially if it works as well as you describe.
 

DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
Great update, thanks very much for taking the time to do it. It sounds damn good, and I agree that if it works that well, there's little point in a dedicated satnav. I've already bought the same USA & Canada app for my android phone, so I hope it works as well as on your iPhone.

Good tip on the live traffic too

Again, many thanks!
You're welcome.

You can get some idea of how it works on your phone by using the plan ahead feature which I mentioned earlier. Set up the route A - B, then you can browse it and even 'play' it. That won't tell you how well it will actually work in practice, but it will give you a good idea of look & feel.


BT Bob - sounds like a great trip. If I were you I'd google that particular app, which is what I did here. There's bound to be a forum or two about it.
 

KeithO

Active Member
Just to add my recent experiences to this.

I'm just coming to the end of a couple of weeks in Orlando and Key West. Whilst I've been here I've been using my Galaxy S3 with the TomTom USA/Canada app on it. I also have a top end TomTom 1015 with USA/Canada maps on it. The phone option is equally as good as the standalone unit for navigating. If anything I would actually say that the phone finds and holds a GPS signal better than the standalone, but of course that's going to vary from phone to phone.

Downsides I've found are that you can't create your own POI categories on the phone like you can on the standalone, you're limited to just setting favorites. I have tried copying my POI file from the 1015 to the S3 and they show on the map but you can't search for them.

Other than that, I haven't really found any issues. The upside of course is that I always have my phone with me, so it's one less thing to carry. I did have a windscreen mount for the phone, but it worked equally well (tho less visible of course) just sitting in the armrest well, on the one time I left the mount at home.

It's a really workable alternative, and I shall most likely be selling my satnav when I get home.
 

BT Bob

Distinguished Member
Slightly off-topic - what did you think of Key West?
 
I use the Copilot App on my wife's iPad. all maps are held locally so it doesn't need a data connection just the GPS one.

I do believe the new Google Maps/Navigation can pre-cache maps but my phone's too small to use as a sat-nav so not tried it.
 

DPinBucks

Distinguished Member
...
Downsides I've found are that you can't create your own POI categories on the phone like you can on the standalone, you're limited to just setting favorites. I have tried copying my POI file from the 1015 to the S3 and they show on the map but you can't search for them.
..
One other minor niggle was that Addresses have to be accessed by State (though not Canadian provinces). Typing in, say, Providence (Rhode Is) when it's set to Connecticut won't find it. You have to remember to select the state first. You probably didn't notice that if you remained in Florida.

It caught me out a few times, but to be honest it's difficult to see that indexing the entire USA in one huge list would be much better. There's only one New York City (I think), but dozens of Springfields. And it's only in the small north-eastern states where it's likely to be much of an issue.
 

KeithO

Active Member
One other minor niggle was that Addresses have to be accessed by State (though not Canadian provinces). Typing in, say, Providence (Rhode Is) when it's set to Connecticut won't find it. You have to remember to select the state first. You probably didn't notice that if you remained in Florida.

It caught me out a few times, but to be honest it's difficult to see that indexing the entire USA in one huge list would be much better. There's only one New York City (I think), but dozens of Springfields. And it's only in the small north-eastern states where it's likely to be much of an issue.

Personally I think that's ok. The chances are you're looking for a town in the same state, so better not to show you towns with the same name thousands of miles away. As you say, if that's what you want you can force it to do that.
 

KeithO

Active Member
I use the Copilot App on my wife's iPad. all maps are held locally so it doesn't need a data connection just the GPS one.

I do believe the new Google Maps/Navigation can pre-cache maps but my phone's too small to use as a sat-nav so not tried it.

You can cache an area of google maps, but it doesn't allow a large area, so might not be enough
 

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