Added 1976-12-08 09:21:30
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iPhone App Review: MotionX GPS Drive

iPhone App Review: MotionX GPS Drive

September 17th, 2012 by

For some reason GPS driving apps with guided turn-by-turn directions have historically been high-priced apps that require a steep initial buy-in plus some sort of subscription. Maybe this is the old guard’s way of keeping their business alive in the face of Google Maps and the like, and I have to give them credit for actually offering value for your money (although for me it’s never been quite enough value to just have a voice read my directions for me, though it’s probably a lot safer).

MotionX GPS Drive is a far more cost-effective solution for the road warrior that needs more than just Google Maps’ admittedly fairly impressive feature set. In addition to the standard top-down map you get the classic isometric navigator view, voice-guided directions (with a large assortment of voice to choose from), the ability to pre-cache your route so that your directions aren’t interrupted if you hit a patch of bad signal; plus a huge assortment of search options in case you’re no quite sure exactly what you’re looking for.

How It Works

For the initial price of $0.99 you get a feature-complete Universal app that will handle all of your navigation needs, plus a free 30-day subscription to the voice-guided service. That’s right: you do have to pay a little extra for the voice service, but that is all you pay extra for, and the kicker is that the free 30-day trial is NOT auto-renewed… you need manually purchase extensions to the service (or buy a full year for only $9.99). There are a few basic voices offered to start with and others that you can purchase.

The main screen is a wheel surrounded by a bevy of buttons for searching in a variety of ways, though a couple of the options are for posting your location to social networks rather than for searching. Search by address, by general terms or business name, by category (finding a gas station or restaurant for instance), and you can even search Wikipedia for nearby business.

The app has live traffic, and when you start navigation it gives you the option of pre-loading your directions so that if you hit a bad patch of signal your directions aren’t interrupted.

Pros And Cons

Overall I loved the app: it’s better than the built-in Maps app, costs next to nothing for the almost-full navigation experience, and has a ton of features shoe-horned into the tiny little interface (though it does work on the iPad as well, provided you have a data signal). The search options are robust (provided by Bing) and the NAVTEQ maps are detailed and accurate. You also get the 3-D mapping experience which Google has denied iPhone users in favor of giving it up to their own Android club.

It also has some nice little touches that you never think about until you actually have them, and then they’re priceless. The app shows you the speed limit on each road you’re driving, as well as a lane-assist feature for complex interchanges, intersections, and freeway exits.

My only minor gripe is with the search screen, which basically functions as the app’s home screen. Some of the options are more valuable and will be used more often than others, but with the wheel’s design they are all the same size and given the same level of importance. I will far more often be searching for an address or a local business, so that should be a larger button for my giant fingers than the Wikipedia button, as nice as that might be to have in the app itself.

The Facebook and Twitter posting options are similarly oddly placed, being on an option wheel comprised mostly with search choices, then these two social-network buttons are just hanging out in there too.

It seems like the “Current Location” can be moved out of the center of the wheel and placed above or below, so that main button in the middle of the wheel can be for the likely most-used choice: Search by Address. I don’t know, I’m not a designer, that’s just my two cents.


All in all MotionX GPS Drive is an amazing navigation app that is well worth the $0.99 for all of its terrific features. The interface could use a touch of streamlining, but it’s still a fantastic app at any price.

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