It’s almost impossible to find a mobile phone SatNav application that gives you turn-by-turn voice navigation guidance for free.
Although you can get text directions on most free navigation software solutions, such as Google Maps, a subscription to a decent SatNav software can cost you anything from £5 a month to a one-off payment of up to £100 for a years service, with ongoing costs to update the maps.
Add to that the impossibility of finding SatNav software for Android, you’ll understand why it was refreshing to find AndNav2, a free SatNav application on Android Market.
This is the second incarnation of the software, and comes with a wealth of new features including the ability to send routes to friends with Route Sharing and the move to OpenStreetMaps, which are user-generated maps created by a community.
When you open the application up, you’re presented with a simple interface using large icons that take you to ‘search for a destination’, ‘view a map’, ‘navigate to your home’, ‘settings’, ‘the nearest hospital’ or ‘exit’.
We were a little confused by the hospital icon – does navigating using this app mean you’ll end up needing to use the direct to hospital icon? We hope not.
Navigating to a location is simple in theory, but hit and miss in practice. You can search for an address by first selecting your country’s flag, then either entering the postcode or city name. The app doesn’t support seven-digit postcodes, but only recognises the first section (ie., E14). You can then select which mode you’d like to use. Choose between car, pedestrian or cycling mode and then decide whether you want to use the shortest or fastest route. If you’re in a car, you can decide whether or not you want to avoid highways and tolls.
One rather large disappointment we discovered was that the app failed to recognise most postcodes. This is of course a pretty hefty issue for a satellite navigation system.
However, when searching for Points of Interest, the search was more fruitful (although it failed to recognise any pubs within 0.6 miles of our office – there’s one right opposite). This is again user generated, so it really does depend on the size of the community providing information to the database.
Turn-by-turn instructions are basic, with text along bottom in small font. We found that the speaker on the G1 wasn’t very loud, so needed to listen carefully or use a headset/ external speaker to follow the instructions.
We didn’t, however, have any problems following the route on the map. The current leg of your journey is shown in green, which is clear even when driving and your eyes should be focused on the road.
Extra features, such as the ability to email friends a route (just tap ‘mail route’ from the map menu) and avoid high-traffic areas using data provided by the BBC in the UK make AndNav2 a well-featured free application. The only thing that really holds this SatNav back is the lack of postcode and PoI data – something that will improve as more people ue it.
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Developer: Nicolas Gramlich and Pascal Neis
Website/Demo: AndNav2 website