GPS Apps – TomTom, Sygic, and Waze. Who’s going to Florida?

I have toyed around with GPS apps for my iPhone since I got my Honda VTX a couple of years ago.  The top three have been TomTom, Sygic and Waze.  They all have similar features which I won’t touch on here (speedometer, road names, etc.).  Each one has things I like and each one has things I don’t like.

UPDATE 3/19/2016:   As of March 2016, TomTom moved to a subscription service (TomTom GO) and their lifetime maps license is no longer available.  I see this as an unfortunate move given the fact that TomTom’s app is one of the most expensive on the market and, frankly, does not offer enough features or refinement over competitors to merit moving to a subscription service.  Therefore, at the present time and given the useable alternatives, Sygic is now my preferred app for GPS navigation.

I really like Waze and the realtime “community” feedback.  Users helping users is such a great concept.  But, the two things that rule out Waze for me as my first choice are the fact that there is not enough contrast in the map to satisfy my needs when on a motorcycle and wearing sunglasses.  And, the fact that the map is not downloaded onto the device is a hindrance given the fact that there are times when I travel back roads and may not have an adequate cellular signal. Of course, Waze is FREE and free is always nice.  So, Waze won’t be my first choice but it also won’t be coming off my iPhone any time soon.

Sygic has onboard (downloaded) maps, so it’s not necessary to always have a cell signal to keep the map functioning. This is EXTREMELY important to me, knowing that back roads travel can take one in and out of areas that may have little or no cellular coverage.   I also really like Sygic’s various alerts and alarms – being able to alert me to upcoming sharp curves, railroad tracks, etc. when they may not be immediately obvious.  It also has a much bolder looking screen than Waze.  That’s hugely important when you are only able to glance at a screen for a second or two.   The other thing that I did not like with Sygic is its lack of discrimination of routes it suggests.   For example, I selected a destination and told Sygic I wanted to avoid highways as I was traveling a number of unfamiliar country back roads, Sygic tried, two different times, to route me back dirt farm lanes to get to my destination.  Frankly, that’s not acceptable.  Sygic, of course, has voice guidance, but, for an app that already costs a good bit to have to pay for a yearly subscription for voice guidance is not particularly appealing.

Navigation-app-iPhone-Traffic-InfoTomTom‘s iOS app has actually gotten better since I first purchased the app.  It’s the most expensive of the three apps, but it is probably the best suited for the type of riding I do.  It also has downloaded maps, similar to Sygic.  The TomTom app display is bright ,with good contrast between roads and surrounding area.  TomTom also gives the rider a chance to choose avoiding highways but ALSO minimum, medium and maximum winding roads (without wanting to take you on dirt farm roads – at least in my tests)!  TomTom also has Auto Map Zoom (as do Sygic and Waze), which can zoom in on the display when you slow down below a certain speed or approach a turn onto another road.  And, of course, voice guidance on TomTom is quite good and included with the app with no yearly subscription.
So, the winner for the 2014 Florida tour?   Based on my tests  experience with my top three choices, TomTom for iOS will be the app used for this particular trip.


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