BigBoss Edit: Excellent post Ranova. Added as rule #16 to why jailbreak.
Here’s another reason to jailbreak your iPhone 3G. Today, xWaves released the highly anticipated update to their GPS app for the iPhone: xGPS. xGPS features full turn-by-turn guidance through the clever use of Google Maps. It also features full voice directions (TTS – text-to-speech) that try to pronounce the upcoming turn in full detail (direction, street name, etc), a feature a lot of standalone GPS’s do not have. It does a pretty good job at pronouncing street names. A female voice (found in most GPS units) would sound a lot better than a robotic voice, but it is still decent.
My initial impressions of xGPS fare pretty well. On 30 mile commute back from work, I gave xGPS a whirl. I had set up my “Home Address” pre-emptively, so I click the little magnifying glass and a few options pop up:
From there, I simply chose “Go Home,” and it calculated the route and off I went. On the way back, I decided to go off-route to avoid toll roads, which Google Maps seems to love since it is the “easiest” way. After a few seconds of “WrongWay” flashing on the screen, it recomputed the itinerary. At first, it kept telling me to do a U-turn to get back on course of the original route. But after a few tries, it finally gave up and gave me a whole new route to go home. It finally got me home, and without weird off-roads that my standalone GPS likes to give when I choose not to go on toll roads. I pre-downloaded the area of the routes just in case I lost cell signal and it could not download the map area – and it seemed pretty smooth while I was driving.
Being the first working turn-by-turn version (1.1 was more of a demo that it could be done), xGPS 1.2 did better than I expected. It is fully functionaly and can be used in place of a standalone, but without all the special features a standalone has.
One notable problem is the volume of the TTS, it seems incredibly low. I had to connect my iPhone to my car sound system before I could hear it against all the snowplows and cars passing by. Playing music in the background (using the iPhone music player) makes the TTS voice also very hard to hear.
Another special feature is the maps downloading. You can download maps on your iPhone xGPS software or with software on your computer (Website). If you download the maps on your computer, you can setup a quick wireless transfer and transfer the downloaded Google maps straight to your iPhone. Quick tip: When you select the area of a map you want to download, you must select zoom levels. I find zoom levels 1 and 2 to be enough. So when it asks you for the title and zoom levels, you would enter in: 1,2. Zoom levels range from 0 (closest) to 17 (furthest). If you wanted the full range, you would enter in 0,1,2,3…17. Be warned, this will hugely increase the size of the maps. Entering in 0,2 resulted in a 650mb map for me, while 1,2 resulted in a 250mb map. The more detailed (lower numbered) maps are much, much larger.
Here is a breakdown of the Pro’s and current Con’s of xGPS 1.2:
- Uses Google Maps routing and maps.
- Works well as a standard turn-by-turn GPS device
- Includes TTS to speak out road names and highways
- Recomputes Itinerary when going off-course
- Clean and simple interface
- Can be laid out vertically or horizontally
- Night-mode to dim the maps during certain hours.
- Maps rotate in-relation to what direction your car is facing, making it easier to navigate.
- Ability to pre-download maps from the iPhone or your computer and transfer it wirelessly between the two.
- Maps will be as current as Google’s maps
- Only uses the routes given by Google Maps – and these routes may not be the most cost effective or most time saving route.
- Recomputing routes can be iffy at times
- The need for a data connection to compute routes
- POI “locations” search works, but there is no way to get directions to the POI yet
- No large arrow showing what to do next, a common feature that most GPS units have
- No “time left” estimation and estimated “time on arrival”
- When playing music from the iPhone, you can barely hear the voice guidance system.
- Bookmark system is pretty barebones and messy – it needs to allow to save a single destination and not require a starting point and a destination.
What it Needs to be a full-time replacement
- Multiple route selections – this may be a limitation of google maps, but allowing you to select certain options for routing is standard in a lot of GPS units. For example: to allow or disallow Toll roads, road conditions, and traffic.
- Large Arrow showing your next turn (and even the turn after that)
- Time-left estimation
- Estimated Time of arrival
- Traffic reports from Google Maps
- Working POI system, allowing you to get details of the POI (Phone number, website, etc) and directions there from current location
- Lowering music volume whenever it has a voice prompt
This is a huge step in turn-by-turn app development. This will lay all your concerns about whether or not the iPhone 3G’s GPS can do turn-by-turn to rest. It does it and it does it well. While this may not fully replace your standalone GPS unit, it can be definitely used as a standalone if you currently do not own one. If you have a jailbroken iPhone 3G, give it a try and donate to the developers! xGPS is currently free and the developers have stated they want it to remain free. I cannot wait for what they have in store for us in future versions.
Lastly, you iPhone 2G users are not out of luck. You can purchase a seperate GPS module that attaches to the iPhone 2G/iPod Touch that will allow this turn-by-turn app to work. No details on this or how much the module will cost.
So what are you waiting for? Go in cydia and download it now! Please Digg this submission to help spread the word of xGPS!