Version Reviewed: 1.3
Graphics / Sound [rating:4/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:4/5]
User Interface [rating:3/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:4/5]
The presentation of G-map reminds me much more of a dedicated GPS unit's screen than the iPhone's dedicated Maps application. Still, simplicity is the goal in either case. When you open the application, you are greeted by a disclaimer reminding you to secure your device and be careful when driving your car.
Once past that, you may select a destination via a nested menu of categories from food, gas, and lodging to hospitals and shopping. You can also view a map of your current location or plan a detailed route with a starting point, waypoints and a destination (as well as Optimal Departure Time, which I could never use successfully). The option screen allows you to choose shortest and fastest route, truck routes, scenic routes and things to avoid (like highways, u-turns, unpaved roads, etc.).
The maps themselves are attractive (Navteq), and in some larger metros offer 3D views to interchanges. I have to say that, with GPS devices, I've often wished for that feature and I'm glad that a lot of people are moving forward with the concept. That being said, G-Map is not always very specific with exit numbers and other data beside the street name or highway that you're going to use. It does do some interesting things to alert you of upcoming turns.
When the 1.3 update was released, it contained some interesting notes in the change log. The most prominent change was the addition of a GPS "game" that gave you points for following directions successfully. I found this kind of strange, but went ahead and gave it a try. When you are within one mile of your turn, the top bar containing the next street/highway name begins to fill with green from the left and a surprise box appears on the right. The bar's state corresponds with the distance to that turn, e.g. if half the bar is full you have one half mile to your turn. Within about 1/10th of a mile or 500 feet of the turn a chime sounds and the mystery box opens revealing a cherry, watermelon, joker or another prize. This feature may be fun for your kids, but has the added value of letting you know fairly precisely (without looking) when you need to turn. It's always interesting to see people use creative ideas
One of my problems with version 1.2 was that, on a long drive, G-Map only displayed the number of miles to the next turn with no simple way to display remaining time to a destination. The latest update fixed this by removing the distance to the next turn. This is one of those situations where I'm not sure which was worse. I understand that the new "game" interface provides some feedback, but a mile can be a very short distance to cross lanes in certain traffic situations. Having a way to see remaining miles in your trip intermittently or displaying both seems like a much better option.
Like any GPS data, the streets and business in G-Map may not be completely accurate if there has been a construction project or a closing in the last one to two years or so. In addition, the application occasionally takes some time to find your current location. This can be particularly annoying when you find yourself searching for pizza shops in the Cupertino area while vacationing in Dallas.
Until the 3.0 update is released, G-Map is the closest thing I've seen to the forbidden turn-by-turn voice navigation. There are definitely some annoyances in the application, but it works extremely well for everyday and trip usage. For those who need something more robust than Maps it's a great option. While pricey in the bargain-filled world of iPhone applications, G-Map is a good experience that should only get better with time.