Developer: Garmin
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 7.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Like many guys, I don’t like to ask for directions. There’s just something in my DNA that makes it impossible. Thankfully, modern technology allows me the convenience of navigational GPS. These days, in fact, I rarely find myself without a GPS-capable device. Whether it’s my in-car system or my iPhone if I’m walking somewhere, I am always only a couple of button presses away from satellite-powered navigation. As a result, I never have to pull the car over, run into a gas station and ask for directions. As just about anyone who’s abandoned the pre-GPS days of print-out direction and aimlessly driving down incorrect streets without a clue will say: the technology is awesome.

Five years ago, I paid about $500 for a Magellan in-car GPS unit. For that reason, Garmin StreetPilot onDemand’s 99-cent price tag is a truth that’s remarkable and simultaneously painful Indeed, the tech has come a long way – both in terms of features and interface, as well as pricing.

For 99 cents, users get a lot with Garmin StreetPilot onDemand. Of course, to use many of the features, a $2.99 monthly subscription is required. We’re talking about stuff like spoken turn-by-turn directions including street names, 3D visuals of buildings and landmarks, traffic re-routing and Google local searching. The app does come with a 30-day trial for the premium service, but after that, it’s back to basic GPS functions.

There’s a lot to like about Garmin StreetPilot onDemand. For instance, its points-of-interest database is powered by Google and includes traffic data and weather information for destinations. Users can also easily call their destination by clicking the “Call” button, and because the software is running on the iPhone itself, the whole process is seamless and convenient. What’s more, users can easily access their iTunes library collection from within the app, which is just awesome.

But there are some small things I don’t dig. For example, on the navigation screen itself, the app doesn’t tell users how many miles are left until users reach their destination – rather it estimates an arrival time. This is a huge pet peeve of mine when it comes to these devices, though. I prefer seeing the actual distance. Some users might prefer Garmin’s approach here, meanwhile. Moving on, though, there’s an inherent problem with using the iPhone as an in-vehicle navigation device – the screen is on the smaller size. Simultaneously trying to watch the road and look at the iPhone while driving – especially when it’s propped up on the dashboard – can prove challenging and even dangerous. And that’s not to mention that the software is data intensive, gobbling up megabytes. Definitely something to consider for users on a limited data plan.

Despite some tiny quibbles, Garmin StreetPilot onDemand is impressive. This is especially true when one considers it very low price point – just 99 cents and $2.99 a month for full premium service. For users who don’t want to invest in a more costly navigational unit, but still want the occasional benefits of using GPS, onDemand is a superb choice.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Navigation, Reviews

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