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Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Review: Sygic Aura
Review: Sygic Aura

The long awaited Sygic Aura recently hit the App Store street and we were lucky enough to get a test version (1.15). Remember that Sygic Mobile Maps should have been the first iPhone Turn-by-Turn Voice Guided GPS app for the iPhone if it wasn’t for a nasty App Store bug, which gave Navigon the official title.

Sygic Mobile maps has been good reviewed and received by the community for producing a solid GPS app based on TeleAtlas Map technology. I have used the app for thousands of Kilometers without any problem. In the mean time, the competition has also improved their applications with many updates and new features. TomTom is one of those that have improved a lot, although some payable options are still expensive.

iPhone apps | Sygic Aura

Booking.com

Every self-respecting GPS app maker out there knew the growing need of adding social features. I have seen it first in CoPilot Live, later in Waze , Navigon (facebook and twitter) and now in Sygic Aura.

community

Sygic Aura has implemented a community, which consists of other Aura friends. You can look them up in the application and ask authorization to become friends. Also messages can be composed in the app and sent to your Aura buddies. The goal of all this is, like their slogan says: Drive, walk, meet. A good GPS app should not be switched off at the end of your car trip, but continue to serve you to your final destination, which is mostly on foot. The meeting of other friends depends of the popularity of the application. My tip here to Sygic is, to build it also into Mobile Maps to quickly increase the potential user base.

A nice thing is that it also has city guides incorporated now. In the Benelux edition that I am testing, there are 3 city guides, Brussels, Antwerp and Amsterdam. The city guides have a general tab, where all the general city topics are discussed and next to that you have the categories.  These are like extended POIs, with lots of extra information and even data for the nearest train and metros. You can share these locations with friends and meet in the same restaurant, which you even can give a rating.

iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura
iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura

New Menu

The whole menu has been greatly simplified, with four main items: Find, Community, Info and Settings.

Find is where you have Destination, My neighborhood, City Guides, POI, contacts, favorites and history.

Community we just talked about, except for the fact that you can change your status, location and quick message.

Info; is for Route info, Traffic info, Weather, World Clock and Country info. The last 3 info items are not bound to the region of your edition.  The Traffic feature I still have to check out and update this article accordingly.

Last is the Settings menu, where you can change almost everything, from the Sound; trap alerts, speed limit, friend & message notifications.
Display; with different map views, details, color schemes, signpost info and lane assistance.

iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura
iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura

Online; Account, Total traffic (down/up volumes) and auto connect.

Route Planning; Avoid toll and Route computing (fast/short/eco).

Safety Camera; Enable radar and show on map.

Regional: Tons of different voices, plenty of interface languages, keyboard layouts, units, time format, temperature and GPS coordinate display.

Cinema graphics

I am using the application daily now, and it is an exiting app to use. The display of the map is fantastic, so realistic with all the buildings, nature and objects around you. Navigon 1.5 has Panorama View 3D for which you pay extra, but you cannot compare it with what Aura has visually accomplished. You should check out all the screenshots, Sygic Aura is simply beautiful. You can move the map around with your finger to look forward and backwards (which was fist implemented by CoPilot Live this way). When you now tap the red square, you will be presented with a new menu;

• Drive to
• Walk there
• Share location (to one of your Aura friends)
• Add POI
• Nearby POI
• Add to favourites

iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura
iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura

And with the scroll wheel at the bottom you can scroll around your axis, again very well implemented. One thing to note is that once you have moved the screen around, you need to press back to go back to the navigation mode.  It’s a pity I cannot show you the elevation images, because the Benelux doesn’t have high mountains.

Cities that are supported in 3D coverage are; Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Charleroi, Ghent, Liege, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Groningen, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

Tapping

4 Other things I found out by tapping the display is;
1. When you tap the top right corner, which contains your status icon, you can change your status.
2. When you tap in the middle of the bottom status bar while navigating, you have the option to report a speed trap of accident.
3. When tapping the lower left bottom corner while navigating, the app speaks again the last voice instruction.
4. When touching the top left corner, shows you all the details about the weather. (Does anyone know what Gust speed is?)

iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura
iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura


Even you know the route of the trip you are going to make, you still want to use Sygic Aura, just for the stunning visual experience, and possible speed trap updates.

Conclusion

Sygic has done a marvelous job with Aura, it is the default Sat-Nav app on my iPhone (and I have a few, believe me). The fact that all the info is available without data connection is a plus. I am waiting eagerly for the Westen Europe Edition.

With Google breathing in the mobile neck of Apple and implementing a free GPS Turn-by-Turn Voice Guided application in the Android phones, I can only recommend Apple to consider buying Sygic Aura and make it their default navigation app that ships with the new iPhone OS 4.0. The competition does not stop there; Nokia ships it’s smartphone with free Ovi Maps and Microsoft just announced that Bing just added Voice Guided Turn-by-Turn navigation to its mobile app for Windows Phones 6.1 and above. Apple sits on an enormous amount of cash and could encourage people staying on the iPhone platform, by delivering a slick and very valuable navigation app for free. Think about that Steve!

Note1 The app is still in introduction pricing until end of May.
Note2 Aura is not replacing Mobile Maps, both will live side-by-side.

iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura
iPhone apps | Sygic AuraiPhone apps | Sygic Aura


Features - 4.5
Appearance – 5.0
Usability - 4.5
Value - 5.0
Overall: 4.75 stars out of 5


Doc revision: May 12 2010, extended the conclusion.

 




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