...so today was the first real, proper like, test of using iPhone 3G's Maps to navigate my way somewhere. The somewhere in question was Radlett (for work I assure you).

In this instance, I didn't have any backup printed Google Maps as my printer had decided to run out of ink. Thanks. So I was relying TOTALLY on the iPhone (well I did have a road atlas in the car, and the A-Z may have helped, but I'm not sure if Radlett's in there), today helped in the fact that I don't have a 'known' route (as with yesterday), but knew I needed to go round the M25.

One of my concerns with navigating by iPhone, is that the thing keeps going to sleep. Luckily if you have the iPhone in 'tracking' mode, whereby it's using the AGPS to constantly monitor your position, this doesn't happen.

The next 
problem I discovered, is that after I'd got the route (as straightforward as normal GMaps), and pressed start to kick off the first step, the phone came out of tracking mode, I put it back in tracking mode and skipped forward to around step 11 or so, which was which junction I needed to come off the M25 at (the bit before this is easy ;), again the phone came out of tracking mode.

This happens pretty much any time you do anything, although i was able to zoom in and out (although I don't think you can zoom right the way in when tracking) without it losing me, but each time you advance a step in the directions, you have to re-engage tracking again. Thus it would be rather nice if it recognised each waypoint on the journey and updated itself.

Signal wise, which was my main concern prior to getting the phone, it held up pretty well. The thing with this is that the maps aren't stored on the device, so each time you scroll along, it has to download the next bit. If you're in a no-signal area, you'll lose the maps and just get a pulsing blue dot on a grid. Not very helpful. So far, I haven't had a problem, but I'm sure it'll crop up before the TomTom software's out!

A couple of things that helped with the whole satnav side of things are a couple of purchases I made yesterday from Carphone Warehouse in Tonbridge (as the O2 store and staff were SHITE)
, being a Griffin in-car charger and a holder. Tried it first in the centre of the windscreen, didn't like that, moved to to the right.. much better (as above).

An iPhone view of the world

So I eventually got to the location okay, reasonable straightforward, couple of unsure bits and brief wrong turns but all was well. I still needed to navigate my way back out and to the M25 th

Again, I made it okay (I know you were all worried there for a moment!), signal held up okay, as it should in a built up area, GPS tracked okay, what confused me a couple of times going this way though was the map.

The map stays compass orientated, rather than orientated to your direction of travel as a standalone satnav would do, this created issues on a couple of roundabouts, as not wanting to keep tapping buttons on the iPhone as I was driving, I opted for the "follow the blue line" approach. Which was reasonable successful, but a couple of time where it looked like I was going straight across the roundabout, I wasn't, I wanted the next exit over. A quick double back and I was sorted, but this was a bit of a niggle.

All in all it was a pretty successful first test.

Main points

  1. Tracking works fine
  2. Until you step through the directions, then it gets switched off.
  3. Data signal holds up well enough for the maps on most of today's route, built up and motorway, O2 needs some more 3G coverage tho!
  4. When you do lose signal, you're fucked.
  5. Have to think about the directions, due to the map orientation.
  6. Not bad for a basic feature, needs improving though.

Pownce it! Pownce it!


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