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Skobbler updates its $0.99 nav app with mixed results

Mel Martin

I first took a look at the Skobbler crowd sourced GPS app for iPhone back in June of 2010. I found it uneven in quality, but it was free, and if you weren't going to spring for one of the big boys like Garmin, Navigon or TomTom it was worth a try.

Skobbler has now been updated, and it costs US$0.99. The app has been renamed GPS Navigation 2. Your dollar gets you US and Canada maps in a universal application that adds local search, a "take me home" option, integration with your contacts and iPod playback while navigating. The maps are from OpenStreetMap, kind of a Wikipedia for mapping. Using the map requires a data connection, but you also have the ability to download maps at prices ranging from $5.99 for North America, Europe, and Australia to $3.99 for places like Italy, Ireland, the UK, France and Germany.

How does it work? It's still a mixed bag. The maps are clear enough, but operation is quirky. You get a 3D map, but if you scroll to the right it suddenly turns 2D. Scrolling left doesn't get you the 3D map back; you have to hit a "back" button. As I drove, I didn't always see my car centered on the map, and I often drifted off screen. Navigating back home was a complete failure, as I was told to turn onto a street that did not connect to where my house is.

The app advertises local search. I tried "grocery store." Nope. Pizza? Zip. Pizza Hut? Uh-uh.

I tried some non-residential addresses and they worked fine, and the voice for turn-by-turn directions was audible and pleasant. The app provides a female voice with a soothing British accent.

There are some other inexpensive nav apps. Motion X GPS Drive comes to mind at $0.99, but features like voice directions cost extra and are subscription based. Waze is a free, crowd sourced nav app, and it gets consistently good reviews.

If you aren't about to buy a more expensive navigation app, and you feel lucky, this app might be worth a look. The GUI has been considerably improved from the older version, and the added features are nice. On the other hand, if it can't get you home, it's really not a good investment, even at $0.99. Screen shots are below.


In this article: GPS, iPhone, navigation

Now doing consulting and recently wrote a book on film producer Samuel Bronston who made El Cid and Fall of the Roman Empire. I also did the commentary on Fall of the Roman Empire with Bill Bronston, the son of the late producer. I'm an amateur astronomer, and take lots of high resolution photos of galaxies and nebula from my backyard observatory in Arizona.