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Can Your Smartphone Replace a GPS?
If you’ve been reading us lately, you are very aware of the deluge of slick new smartphones sweeping the market. GPS capability is pretty much standard on these phones, but what does this mean for dedicated GPS, known, in the industry, as Personal Navigation Devices or PNDs? Can the standard GPS hold onto its market-share in the face of such a multi-talented adversary, or are we witnessing the slow demise of the PND at the dexterous hands of GPS-equipped smartphones? Let’s take a quick look at some of the arguments on both sides of the coin.
Big Screen Means Less Distraction
As anyone who drives knows, it’s not a great idea to drive without looking where you're going. A cell phone screen is a good way to take your eyes off the road, especially during the day. You're stuck holding the phone in a moving shadow with one hand, and steering, or should we say, swerving, with the other; none-too-safe. Yes, turn-by-turn voice directions are great and available on most smartphones, including Android with Google Maps, but when you’re approaching that critical next turn, nothing beats a quick, telling glance at an easy to read screen. Most mid-range units like the TomTom XL 340S sport 4.3 inch screens. Score one for PNDs.
Increased Accuracy
PNDs, generally, are extremely accurate. Newer devices can reliably pinpoint your position to within 15 feet, be it the middle of nowhere, or the center of everywhere. By contrast, even the newest wave of smartphones often get confused. Our DROID sometimes thinks we work in Bizarro World across the street; where all our movements are mirrored, a trait endemic to smartphones. We still like Google Maps for Android, but there are better GPS units out there, and even better apps like Where and MotionX for iPhone. Score one for TomTom and friends.
Single Purposed
PNDs are built to navigate and not much else. As such, the hardware and software are optimized for this task. The jack-of-all-trades smartphone, however, is a series of compromises, which often take the form of weaker GPS receivers and processing chips, and, of course, shared battery power. A PND commonly runs from your car’s power outlet, unless you plug your cell phone into a car charger it must share its limited power and shuffle resources. In a short, unscientific test on our DROID we found that navigation used up more power than the display, the internet browser, and the Android OS combined. There is no way around the battery issue. In an attempt to circumvent the hardware handicaps, some cell phones use Assisted GPS to speed up your device, but this only works when in range of a cell tower. Clearly, not helpful when you are lost in the aforementioned, middle of nowhere. Score one more for the PND.
Smartphones Win on Functionality
We do not deny that PNDs are a polished breed with smooth operation and intuitive controls, but due to the smartphone’s internet accessibility and all-in-one nature, smartphone navigation still has far greater potential. We already get nifty features like contact list integration and augmented reality, and the future is even more promising. The downside, however, is that accepting a call on most phones while navigating means your directions stop coming. With Android, for example, your voice prompts would cease, but you could still view them on screen while maintaining the call via speakerphone or hands-free. Score one for smartphones.
No Monthly Bills
The final big one is price. Your basic PND can be had for a one-time payment of around a $100 but check out the resident Garmin Nuvi 205W which is far cheaper than most GPS-equipped smartphones, even after 2-year contract discounts. And about those contracts - to use GPS services on these phones you will most likely need to pay extra fees each month. While GPS on Android, Blackberry, and the like, technically, could be used without a data plan, carriers generally require you to purchase some form of data plan just to own the device. AT&T actually charges an additional fee for GPS aside from the voice and data plans, yikes. Score two for the GPS.
PNDs Are Trying to Hold Back Smartphones
In response to the encroachment of smartphones in navigation territory, PND manufacturers are adapting and innovating. Most major GPS companies, now, offer their software on smartphone app markets. Garmin also now offers the Nuvifone in tandem with At&T which is an adept hybrid of smartphone and navigator. And, as a whole, the PND market offers a growing range of devices for use on-foot or off-road. For a bit of entertainment, TomTom provides add-ons like Star Wars Voices even as a backseat driver, Darth Vader finds your lack of faith disturbing. PND’s are getting more mobile, and more fun.
What's the Verdict?
Can your smartphone replace a dedicated Personal Navigation Device? We say "no." or maybe better said, “not yet.” The PND simply overpowers and outperforms GPS-equipped smartphones, hands down. While PNDs are one-trick ponies, they do that one trick really, really well and to a degree of practicality and affordability unmatched by current cell phones.
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There is something better

I see this article as a bad review, does not mention the iPhone in the mix! I use Navigon, which works very well, does not require any internet connection for the location information, Very accurate and gives you early warning before the turn, connectivity to your car stereo with the available accessories, integrates the iPod function, and you can still take in calls without affecting your GPS, and then when you are in range of cellphone Google maps allow you to view the location as if you are on foot so that is a BIG PLUS for when you want to see landmarks before you are at your location. When I used a dedicated GPS for Pizza delivery called the Tomtom, it was not very useful, The biggest drawback was that the maps were out of date and needed an update which would have cost as much as buying a new up to date dedicated GPS that was not up to date anyway which would have been a simple software update on the iPhone's Navigon, The dedicated GPS often got confused and was very buggy, I remember the Tomtom attempting to send me to the next town containing a street with the same name a few times, and sometimes sent me on a field trip of many turns despite the street I am trying to get to was just 3-4 turns away causing me to be 1/2 hour late, and there is a lot more problems that I could fill a whole page with.

Really when it comes to the iPhone, the dedicated GPS is owned. The iPhone is the best investment that I ever made, the Navigon costs 100 bucks, but it beats any dedicated GPS especially when it provides better functionality than the majority, added with iPod function already in the phone that does not add any difference to the amount of gear you carry as it is just an app.

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As the popularity of the smart phone rises, so does the popularity of smart phone applications. Anyone with coding and programming knowledge can make smart phone apps for any platform, from games and entertainment apps to those designed for educational or productivity purposes. Thanks.

rising popularity

It is true that at one point or another smart cell phone will be wired into this complex mesh of information that for sure will be better in GPS.

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Cost factor!!

I love Garmin and am considering a purchase (PND), however the cost is really prohibitive. If you want the state-of-the-art PND you can spend over $500 dollars very easily. Now if you need a smart phone anyway, that adds up the expense quickly. The EVO is really cheaper than the PND such as a Garmin, when you consider that a good part of the cost is overcome by the contract. The Sprint Navigation may not be perfect, but way more convenient. Why carry two devices when one will work? I think that the EVO will allow usage (navigation) while walking, (navigating a big city on foot for example) so that eliminates having to carry the PNG with also, since you already have the cell phone.
The PNG seems to be specific for backpacking and the like, as where the cell phone will not work that well. But I don't take my cell phone with while hiking anyway. Too bad that a good hiking PNG can't be used in the car. (Or at least very well.) Merge the "singular" use such as backpacking with the auto navigation and the PNG would be worth it. Otherwise I am getting the EVO.

iPhone is better

I see this article as a bad review, does not mention the iPhone in the mix! I use Navigon, which works very well, does not require any internet connection for the location information, Very accurate and gives you early warning before the turn, connectivity to your car stereo with the available accessories, integrates the iPod function, and you can still take in calls without affecting your GPS, and then when you are in range of cellphone Google maps allow you to view the location as if you are on foot so that is a BIG PLUS for when you want to see landmarks before you are at your location. When I used a dedicated GPS for Pizza delivery called the Tomtom, it was not very useful, The biggest drawback was that the maps were out of date and needed an update which would have cost as much as buying a new up to date dedicated GPS that was not up to date anyway which would have been a simple software update on the iPhone's Navigon, The dedicated GPS often got confused and was very buggy, I remember the Tomtom attempting to send me to the next town containing a street with the same name a few times, and sometimes sent me on a field trip of many turns despite the street I am trying to get to was just 3-4 turns away causing me to be 1/2 hour late, and there is a lot more problems that I could fill a whole page with.

Really when it comes to the iPhone, the dedicated GPS is owned. The iPhone is the best investment that I ever made, the Navigon costs 100 bucks, but it beats any dedicated GPS especially when it provides better functionality than the majority, added with iPod function already in the phone that does not add any difference to the amount of gear you carry as it is just an app.

Free Navigation Maps

Article didn't mention that Ovi Maps is free and works for out of network coverage. Available for Nokia Smart Phones.

No Cell Service = No GPS

The single biggest problem with GPS-equipped SmartPhones is that you need cellular service or you don't have GPS. Unlike dedicated PNDs - the SmartPhone's final "x" yards of accuracy uses triangulation of cell towers... and the signal itself travels on the data network. We were recently in the middle of nowhere trying to find a friend's cabin. The phone GPS worked great, until we ran out of towers. Where we needed it the most - we had nuthin'. I wound up stopping at a farmer and he just happened to know my biddy - we were 10 miles out of our way at that point. Luckily , a kid riding with me had a $100 PND with him. We fired that up and voila... it got a perfect signal and got us to our destination.

Bottom line when smartphone GPS works - it works well. But don't expect anything if you're off the data network.

Bradlee

smartphone vs GPS

When I lost my 3G network while driving in a remote area, I still had the map, but lost the directions and voice commands! Some times my GPS is wrong or takes me on needless tours of dead end subdivisions. No substitute for an old fashioned map in the glovebox for backup!

PND vs Smartphone

Smart phones such as the iPhone and a host of others in the pipeline have a gps receiver that does not rely in assisted gps and are therefore as accurate as a PND. My Nuvi and my iPhone have yet to disagree on my location. Factor in the following:

1) up to date maps that do not cost a fortune
2) seamless integration with my address book so I can (hands free) call the destination to which I am navigating.
3) do internet research on my destination.
4) take geotagged pictures of points of interest along my route.
5) record voice memos or notes along the way
6) track incoming flights that I plan to meet at airports
7) conference call other members in my party who also traveling from other points of departure
8) etc ...

My verdict is that the PND is now niche product and as such is in trouble. The one saving grace for PND is when they are really specialize as in special collars used to track birddogs. But that thing stuck to the window in your car is a poor cousin to the iPhone and others like it.

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Love this article and

Love this article and couldn't agree more. Some of my family members with GPS/iPhones complain about the system's delay in developing a map to their destination. Perhaps the SmartPhone/GPS idea is best suited for safety purposes i.e. parents to track the physical location of their children. I own a TomTom and never leave home without it; I do have to be fair and say that it is an older model and sometimes makes little mistakes. But overall, it is one of the best inventions ever created and a money saver.

iPhone App for Navigation are Pretty Good

I read the blog with interest, but I have an iPhone App that I paid 2.99 that works better thatn the PND that I purchased. It very rarely gets confused and the maps are constantly updated from the web so if there has been a change I don't have to download a new set of maps for a standalone device.

Goodbye VZNavigator

I just bought a Garmin Nuvi and am cancelling Verizon's $10/month GPS service on my Blackberry. The main reason is not the money; I am just sick of going PAST a street and then having VZNavigator tell me I should have turned there. It is slow to load, slow to respond, and slow to recalculate if I take a wrong turn. Also, sometimes it locks up my Blackberry. Trying to pull a battery while lost on the freeway is no fun!

My HTC HD2 has a 4.3" screen

My HTC HD2 has a 4.3" screen that is far higher resolution than a PND and has several navigation apps available. All I have to do is clip it into the dash mounted cradle and the vehicles bluetooth does the rest. Voice calls, MP3s, navigation instructions, they all pause or mute for eachother automatically. Score a big win for the cell phones.

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Smartphone vs. PND

Hmmmm....did you take into consideration the upcoming HTC EVO? With free Sprint navigation (by Telenav) and a 4.3" screen I think you may have to change your vote....

Navigon on iPhone

I use navigon on iPhone to replace my company owned Navigon 2100 when I left their employment and the iPhone actually has a larger screen then the dedicated PND it is replacing. The 1 week of overlap where I had both units showed them to be both about the same accuracy when placed in the same location attached to a mount on my windshield and the iPhone has the ability to announce turns through my car stereo to boot.

Smartphone Wins!!! *crowd goes wild*

My vote is with my phone. Sorry.

I couldn't disagree more with this article. My Sprint Curve is awesome. I use Sprint Navigation all of the time. Works like a charm so i never would even consider going to a PND.

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Blackberry Curve

I agree. I just took a trip up the east coast and my sprint curve worked awesome. Not once did I get lost!!

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Smartphones

Smartphone win!
I used the stand alone GPS long time ago. I start using the GPS in my smart phone 3years ago and they are perfect.
The writer is trying to baias ... You don need to hold ur smart phone in your hand and drive ... Easily you can buy the car kit and fix the smart phone in your car!

HomeKit is part of iOS 8

With HomeKit Apple brings home automation manufacturers who together. Think of centrally managing locks, lighting, security cameras, thermostats and natural lighting. HomeKit was unveiled Monday at WWDC 2014.

Manufacturers can connect to the system from Apple, and make use of special APIs. Users can group devices and groups of devices linked to actions. Siri also does it tell you to go to bed and the virtual assistant does the door locked and the lights off downstairs.