As GPS systems become an integral part of peoples lives, it is only natural to have them on our iPhone. Today I have a new GPS app called Ndrive Canada and one of the great features is that it does not need an active 3G or WiFi connection!
Ndrive Canada is a new GPS app to the iTunes App Store and it has made its way onto my iPhone 3GS. I tested the app on both my iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS and found very quickly that the app runs much smoother on the 3GS. While Ndrive was somewhat laggy on the iPhone 3G,Â the app was still very usable and I actually ended up using the app on my iPhone 3G in the car.
No Internet Required
One of the features I really like about Ndrive Canada is that it requires no active 3G or WiFi connection for use. The map is completely downloaded onto the device for local storage. You will need an Internet connection for the initial start-up of the app, but afterward you no longer need an active connection.
Since my iPhone 3G does not have cellular service and there is no available WiFi in Vancouver when just driving around, Ndrive Canada is a great app! I can now use my iPhone 3G as an iPod/GPS system and my iPhone 3GS for everything else.
The interface of the app is completely finger operated (as you may have guessed) and makes use of a custom keyboard. The app also supports finger gestures such as pinching to zoom in/out, tilt and rotation support, and you can use your fingers to spin the map in a 360Â° motion.
The menu navigation comes with large buttons which makes for quick and but not always so easy navigation. My two irks about the interface are that the keyboard is not Qwerty (custom) and instead goes in Alphabetical order and since the the app uses large navigation buttons, the user is required to navigate through many pages to find what they are looking for. While the keyboard preferences can be modified, the navigation menus are static.
The app also supports turn by turn spoken navigation which is very effective if you can plug your iPhone into your vehicle sound system. While the voice navigation is useful even without the vehicle sound system, the voice can be difficult to hear from the single iPhone speaker.
Ndrive works like you would expect any GPS system to work but combined with everything else the app has to deliver, I was pleased with the routing features included.
The one routing feature I really like is automatic routing on missed maneuvers. That is, if you miss a turn for example, the app recalculates a new route immediately. You can choose from faster, shorter and pedestrian routing modes and whether to take routes that have “Tolls” or “No Tolls”. Around Vancouver, I am not immediately aware of any streets and/or bridges that require tolls, but if you live near one and want to avoid it, this feature will come in handy.
As you follow your calculated route, which can be a single destination or have multiple routing points, the display map will show you the present and upcoming streets when approaching a new maneuver. Depending on how far in or out you are zoomed, you will also see various other streets surrounding the area. What you will not see (generally speaking) are small streets such as mall parkways or minor streets that wrap around shopping centers and school campuses for example.
Aside from the display map, you have onscreen information consisting of the next maneuver distance and what type, the total distance to your destination, the time until you reach your destination, the current traveling speed (really cool actually), and the estimated arrival time.
The search on the app is particularly well done. There are a ton of great ways the app allows you to search and each method has accelerated search, so the results auto-populate as you type. I will list the search methods below:
- Street Number
- Postal Code
- Initials or partial keywords
- History of previously used terms
- Points of Interest
The app records all search history and the previously used search keywords can be manually deleted. You can also make favorites categories to store your most used destinations and each category can be customized by name, visibility on the map, and a display icon that can be user generated or used from an existing library. Oddly enough, newly created favorites categories cannot be user deleted.
In terms of accuracy, the app was almost 100%. Since there is no active Internet connection, I found that there was at times a slight mismatch when the voice navigation would say to turn and where on the map my location was currently presented.
Ndrive also makes use of 3D objects to showcase major landmarks in various cities. The 3D objects will appear as you navigate near them and serve as great visual pointers to where you currently are. You also have a good view of streets, boat and train routes and displays for different types of terrain including urban, green, river and sea.
Ndrive also comes with many customization options so each user can tailor the app to their own preferences. Aside from the typical general settings such as light and sound, some of the more useful customization options include:
- 25 languages
- Keyboard preferences and Km/Mph options
- Auto-zoom toggle
- Landmarks toggle
- Templates options (changes the color/contrast of the map)
- Points of Interest information
- An interactive HTML manual
The Ndrive suite of GPS applications is available for over 30 countries:
- Western Europe
- UK + Ireland
- Germany + Austria + Switzerland
- Benelux (Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands)
- Hungary + Austria + Croatia
- Poland + Czech Republic + Slovakia
Africa + Middle East
- South Africa
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Asia and South Pacific
- Malaysia and Singapore
- Hong Kong and Macau
Overall, Ndrive provides an economical solution for a country specific GPS system. Not needing an active Internet connection promotes the use of this app not only with active wireless carrier customers but also with users that do not have wireless service. The interface of the app makes for mostly clean navigation, but the routing experience can be jagged or laggy at times and not always provide the correct audible information as per the display map. Ndrive is available in 30+ countries around the world, with more being added each day.
Ndrive Canada is scored a 4 out of 5.
Ndrive Canada is available on the iTunes App Store for $39.99. The app also has support for other countries and prices begin at $37.99.
You can also check out the Ndrive YouTube page for various demo videos.