Free MapQuest 4 Mobile iPhone app has voice navigation
I'm directionally impaired. It might not be a real ailment, but for me it might as well be. Without a map, I couldn't find my way out of a room with one door. So for me, the built-in Google Maps functionality in my iPhone has changed my life.
While I love Google Maps, one thing I don't love about it is the lack of voice directions. While driving, I find that I spend far too much time studying the map in order to try and figure out if it's the next left I want to take, or the one after that? Should I even be turning left? It's hard to tell sometimes with that top-down view.
Well, MapQuest has released an iPhone navigation app called MapQuest 4 Mobile [iTunes link], and while it won't fix my issue with the top-down view, it does add a killer feature: voice directions.
So, how well do they work?
Overall, they're not bad. The voice itself is obviously computer generated, and sometimes it's a bit hard to understand in a noisy, moving car. The app ducks the volume of any music or podcast that you happen to be listening to while it speaks directions to you, which is helpful. However, the quality of the voice is still problematic. It's also a little strange, since MapQuest doesn't attempt to speak street names, but rather just gives generic instructions: "Prepare to turn left," "Get ready to turn left," or "Turn left now." Given MapQuest's limited vocabulary, it would seem like using recordings of a real voice would be easy enough to do, and easier to understand.
Sound quality quibble aside, I'm pretty happy with MapQuest on my iPhone. Once my phone's GPS gets a solid lock, the instructions come with enough warning to allow me to be ready for turns. On the screen, you can see the distance to your destination decreasing in realtime, though it would be nice to also see the ETA.
I've only had a chance to test it on a few routes, and I'd have to say that it chooses conservative routing compared to Google Maps. It will get you there, but you might have been able to get there a couple of minutes quicker with the route Google Maps would have chosen.
At the end of the day, I just don't want to get lost, so losing a few minutes is not a big deal. I'm going to keep using MapQuest, and I have high hopes that updates will improve on an already winning product.