Right away my dearly beloved iPhone 4 replaced the Flip Video camera that I used to carry around with me in case I witnessed space aliens landing, or some other newsworthy event that I could film and then sell the video for millions.
(Hey, I can dream.)
Now I've also relegated my Garmin Nuvi GPS device to the Drawer of Unused Electronic Items, because the Navigon app for the iPhone functions better than a standalone Nuvi does.
I can say this with considerably confidence because I've used the Navigon app quite a bit in the past month or so, notably during a week long vacation in Canada -- where we had to navigate from the Calgary airport to Banff, and then find our way around in Banff National Park.
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about leaving the Garmin Nuvi at home. I've owned several Nuvi models and found them generally reliable and easy to use. But the last few times I used my Nuvi left me with increasingly mixed feelings about it.
When we visited my daughter in Los Angeles, the Garmin would inexplicably take us a long ways on surface streets even though a freeway entrance was near at hand and the traffic was (amazingly) moving smoothly. And when I used it in Portland a few months ago, the Nuvi suddenly went off its GPS rocker just as we were approaching the I-205 exit that I knew we should take. It wanted me to drive eight more miles on the freeway, which was absurd.
On that trip we used my iPhone's Map feature to get us to our final destination. That got me to looking into GPS navigation apps with turn by turn audible directions, of which the Navigon clearly seemed the best.
I haven't been disappointed with Navigon, aside from the fact that I paid $79 for the app, and its now $59. (Actually, I paid $79 twice for it, because after I saw how cool it was, I installed the app on my wife's iPhone also.)
Here's some of the reasons I prefer the Navigon app to my Garmin Nuvi standalone GPS device:
(1) I always have Navigon with me, because I always have my iPhone with me.
(2) Maps of the United States and Canada reside on my iPhone and persumably will be updated in the normal easy app fashion. Updating the Nuvi was somewhat involved and expensive.
(3) The iPhone locks on to GPS satellites much faster than the Nuvi does, and with greater sensitivity. I get a strong GPS signal inside our house with the iPhone; the Nuvi had a lot of difficulty finding satellites indoors.
(4) Turn by turn directions are delivered in more complete English sentences on the Navigon app, and without irritating mispronunciations. The Navigon gal says "please" a lot, and she doesn't pronounce "drive/dr." as "doctor." Miss Nuvi called our street "Lake Doctor SE," which drove me crazy.
(5) If you miss a turn on Navigon, it quietly adjusts without the Nuvi's freak-out: "Recalculating, recalculating!" When I purposely went the wrong way on a test drive, the Navigon app calmly said, "if possible, please make a u-turn in 100 yards." Nice.
(6) The neat Where To? app integrates cleanly with Navigon. So for $2.99 I have a great nearby points of interest finder (just about everything imaginable is categorized) which will fire up Navigon directions to the place with one click.
(7) I can use the iPhone's iPod and listen to music while Navigon'ing away. When directions need to be announced, the music is interrupted and Miss Navigon pleasantly speaks her piece, then music resumes.
(8) Since my wife and I both have XM satellite radio's Skydock, we can plug in our iPhone and hear Navigon instructions over the car radio. Plenty clear, though the plain iPhone speaker is audible enough.
(9) Navigon lets you choose various "speed" options, such as pedestrian and motorcycle. Regarding the latter, you can opt out of freeways and prefer curvy back roads.
(10) Starting and stopping navigation is simpler on the Navigon than the Nuvi. And I like how Navigon gives you several route options to choose from.
Naturally there's also some downsides to the Navigon.
It eats up the iPhone battery fairly quickly, so on a long trip you'll want to have a car charger along. We used it for an hour and a half or so going from Calgary to Banff, though, and I still had over half of a battery charge left.
The screen is considerably smaller than the Garmin Nuvi's, because the iPhone is rather petite. On the plus side, as noted in (1) above I now can have my GPS navigation device carried with me all the time.
I'll end with a caution: the aluminum iPhone 4 is sleek and slippery, especially when used without a bumper or case, as I do. When we were driving from the Calgary airport to Banff I had the iPhone on my lap, so I could glance at the Navigon directions from time to time and hear Miss N. more clearly.
When we started to get into the mountains, the freeway became curvier. The iPhone slid across my lap, past my right leg, and under the driver's seat. I could feel it, but I couldn't pick it up.
For several miles I worried about Miss Navigon talking away under the seat, wondering why I wasn't responding to her. After a while I couldn't stand the separation and pulled over.
Laurel and I then spent an amusing ten minutes or so attempting to get my iPhone back ("amusing" if we'd been watching two Americans by the side of a Canadian freeway, driver's door open, on their hands and knees reaching under both ends of the seat, trying to maneuver the iPhone over a floor hump and past various obstructions, instead of being those people).
Eventually we used a magazine to push the iPhone into my reach after I'd moved the seat as far forward as it would go. Laurel then said, "Don't put it on your lap again, please."
Being of the male persuasion, for a few days I didn't. Then, I did -- after making a crotch depression in my pants. Sorry... no photo.