The Best GPS: Many Ways to Find Your Way

We compared navigation systems to see which ones do the best job of pointing you in the right direction.

By Craig Ellison, PC World |  Personal Tech, GPS

Currently, Android-based navigation offers fewer app alternatives than the iPhone (neither Magellan nor TomTom has an Android app, for example) and fewer mounting options. Since the Android operating system is available on many different devices, each with far fewer users than the iPhone has, manufacturers haven't poured money into designing mounts for each handset. For in­­stance, the first car mount for the Google Nexus One (the Android phone that I used in my tests) didn't appear until four months after the handset's debut--and it came from Google itself.

But you may not need a separate navigation app, depending on the version of Android that your handset uses. An­­droid 1.6 includes a version of Google Maps that provides text-to-speech, turn-by-turn directions. And unlike the basic Google Maps implementation that the iPhone 3GS uses, the one built in to Android 1.6 moves your routing map with you to keep your position on the map.

To deliver maps and street views, however, Google Maps must maintain a 3G or Wi-Fi network connection. If you should lose your data connection, you lose your navigation.

Available from the Android Market, a dedicated navigation app stores data locally on your smartphone, so you have ac­­cess to navigation information even if you drive out of 3G range (you will, however, lose live traffic updates, local fuel prices, and the extended capabilities of Google local search).

ALK Technologies' CoPilot Live 8 ($30) is the lowest-cost full-featured navigation app for Android that has complete maps of the United States and Canada. The premium version ($20 more) includes fuel-price updates and live traffic data that is very similar to what you'd find on Google Maps; both applications take traffic into account when calculating routes.

CoPilot Live 8 lets you navigate to an address, a point of interest, a contact, a point on a map, an intersection, a location defined by GPS co­­ordinates, or one defined by a geotagged photo. The program's voice-recognition capability simplifies data entry, and you can choose from four route options (quickest, shortest, no expressways, or economical)--a feature that Google Maps doesn't offer.

Overall, CoPilot Live 8 performed well on the Nexus One. At times the touchscreen response within the app felt a little sluggish; but CoPilot calculated my route in two-thirds of the time Google Maps did, and in approximately one-seventh of the time the Garmin Nuvi took. The navigation experience resembled that of a dedicated GPS device, though I missed the larger screen and menu layout of the latter.

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Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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