South Africa Navigation App Quest

Since the announcement of Apple’s iPad, I knew it would provide the perfect solution to not owning an unlocked iPhone for use in South Africa. My original plan had been to route my trip through one of the few countries that sell unlocked iPhones, and then sell the phone before my departure from Southern Africa. However, with the iPad 3G being sold as an unlocked device and a full GPS, this offered a better alternative than having to go the first route.

Having a device that could use Vodacom’s telecom network and also function as a GPS device led to research into which iPhone/iPad apps were available to use as a GPS in South Africa. A quick look through iTunes brought up the following apps: NDrive South Africa, Navigon Southern Africa, TomTom Southern Africa, CoPilot Live South Africa, and Nav4D South Africa. I immediately dismissed Nav4D simply by the screen shots and in their description of the app, it was simply the generic wording, no dedication by the developers to even type up a custom description. Then there were four, let’s compare the challengers below:

NDrive South Africa ($50)
NDrive South Africa

Major Features:

Complete Maps of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, ZA, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe

Car, Pedestrian, and Adventure Modes (“Adventure mode guides your way while trekking, bike riding, on boats and even light aircraft”)

Favourite phone numbers

150,000 POIs

[UPDATE: It appears Ndrive has been pulled from iTunes]

Navigon South Africa ($80)
NAVIGON MobileNavigator Southern Africa

Major Features:

Maps of Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, and ZA

Location sharing via Email

Real Sign Post Disply

TomTom South Africa ($80)
TomTom Southern Africa
Major Features:

Maps of ZA, Swaziland, Lesotho (full coverage), Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia (limited to major towns)

Emergency contacts easily accessed

Add locations to TomTom from other apps and websites

CoPilot Live South Africa ($55)
CoPilot Live South Africa
Maps of ZA, and Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland (street coverage in latest update)

Lane Indicator display

Multiple stop trips, waypoints, and pre-trip planning

Live services (location sharing, weather info, Facebook integration) requiring an internet connection

I had my decision set on CoPilot, as the lane indicator and pre-trip planning were major pluses, that none of the other apps even discussed, and the few people who had reviewed those apps had complained about. A close second was NDrive because of that ‘Adventure mode’ and all the maps it claims to have. It figures that the two I fancy are identical in price, thus not making the decision for me. The reason I hestitate about CoPilot is because they just launch an ‘HD’ version for the iPad. The maps are for North America only, but still, you have to buy a new app if you want it built for the iPad. It was really too difficult to simply update the app for increased pixels? So that’s what has given me pause, and I’m wondering if anyone is waiting to release an app right in the build up to the World Cup.

As soon as the decision is made, I’ll post my impressions, though the real test won’t begin till we’re in country and on the road!

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