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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
iPhoneTunes review: iGO My way 2009 - North American Edition
iPhoneTunes review: iGO My way 2009 - North American Edition

Like many of you I have been waiting to use my iPhone as a true multifunction device. iGO is one of the first GPS offerings that I have had the chance to thoroughly test. When I tell you thoroughly, that is exactly what I mean. We at  have had a lot of early information about iGO already.

We have uncovered conflicts and potential problems.

We have also created an in depth review and comparison.

My intention here is to show you a real life story and tell you my experiences using iGO for navigation. I planned  car trip to Toronto with its urban jungle of high rise buildings heavy traffic, trolleys and numerous one way streets to put the app to the ultimate test. Before my trip could start I needed to get ready for it. Hotel reservations, packing and getting the car ready were high on my list but, the highest was getting iGO installed.

iPhone apps

Options and car connection

With hotel reservations, a full tank of gas and iGO strapped to my dashboard , it was time to set out on my trip. First off, the iGO interface is simplistic and astatically pleasing.  iGO is very customizable, there are numerous changes you can make to personalize your experience. The route settings, sound, warnings, themes, and content are all customizable. This should be beyond your expectations for an app on a multifunction device such as an iPhone. Your destinations can be inputted by finding a place in a city or drilling down to input a specific address.

Setting the destination was painless the voice prompts were clear but, an iPhone does lack the speakers to be heard over the roar of a 4 cylinder engine. Plugging in an AUX cable and having the voice prompts over the car speakers was a decent solution. iGO will even let you listen to your IPod in the background while guiding you on your way. I did miss the ability to change tracks without having to close iGO. I also would have liked a way to adjust the volume of the voice prompts.

iPhone appsiPhone apps

Navigating into Canada

Tracking on rural parts of my trip was flawless. My 3GS kept up and gave me more than enough advanced notice to turns. Crossing into Canada I did notice the boarder inspector looking down at the maze of wires running in and out of my iPhone. I’m sure for a split second he was able to determine I was a geek rather than a terrorist. With a not so friendly “Welcome to Canada”, I was on my way. Just over the border the second welcome message I received was from AT&T reminding me that downloading data would cost me $15.38/MB in Canada. That’s just another reason to hate my provider but, I did appreciate the message.

It looks like iGO was going to be on its own. Using SBsettings I was able to disable 3G and Edge and keep location services functioning. I did need to reboot the phone since iGO didn’t seem to be able to have the rug pulled out from under it. I continued my trip without my iPhone being Network aware but, iGO was running perfectly. The app guided me 112 miles with several stops were it rerouted without an issue. One word of advice is to make sure your iPhone is kept in a location where it can maintain a GPS connection. iGO will warn you if you lose it and it did happen every now and then but, the blackouts were very infrequent at this point.

Human error

About 12 miles shy of Toronto, iGO instructed me to leave the QEW. It guided me down a residential neighborhood and told me that I had arrived. Inspecting the screen, I discovered that iGO took me exactly where I asked to go. To my disappointment spelling Gerrard St  with one “r” is not something even iGO can help you with and that street is nowhere near my destination. Yes, human error is still possible with an iGO. After correcting the address, iGO recalculated and planned the trip for me again. Now for the real test. Getting closer to Toronto, iGO began to display 3D buildings. Descending into the urban jungle exposed the weak iPhone GPS hardware.

Weak signal

The weak signal created gaps in GPS coverage that caused me to drive around in circles trying to find my destination. iGO did its best to keep up but, the spotty GPS connectivity in between high rise buildings was its undoing. Even in slow bumper to bumper traffic I was going too fast for the GPS hardware to keep a lock. Several times I passed a turn because of this and iGO recalculated my trip. The attached picture shows the dreaded ““Looking for GPS signal..” alert while iGO shows me surrounded by high rise buildings. Never the less, I did make it to my destination. iGO was able to direct me regardless of the obvious GPS hardware limitations of the iPhone.

iPhone apps

Very good GPS app

My real life test shows that you can use an iPhone as a multifunction device with a navigation app to guide you. The trip also showed me there are some limitations in doing so. The iGO software lives up to its promises. Make no mistake the software is a work in progress that the developers have promised to improve on. There is no doubt that an iPhone has serious limitations when it comes to GPS hardware. Maybe Tom Tom has it right with its upcoming external GPS hardware.

There is also no doubt the iGO is a very good GPS application. Hobbled without network connectivity and a poor signal, the app still guided me to my destinations. I might have had to make a few unnecessary turns but, in the end I arrived.  I used AT&T’s Navigation software and the fact is under these circumstances it would have been unusable for me. iGO excels because it loads maps locally. They have also promised updates and new features. iGO is here to stay and it earned its strips with a very tough test.

Charlie Mallow -


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