Top 3 Turn by Turn direction apps on Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone support for turn by turn navigation has definitely room for growth. As we wait for the Mango version coming out this fall, announced to support native voice narrated directions with the Bing Maps app, we have to settle for a limited selection of such apps on Windows Phone 7 today – Remember that if you have a Nokia Windows Phone, you can use the Nokia Maps for free! Luckily in this case limited does not mean none.There are currently only three generally available apps that provide turn by turn directions, if we exclude carrier exclusive apps like AT&T Navigator or TeleNav GPS Navigator for T-Mobile – which usually require an expensive subscriptions on top of your data plan anyways.Drive On, Turn by Turn Navigation and Silver GPS Navigator are the only options on our Windows Phone 7, NoDo edition today.Yeah – our job in selecting the top 3 was easy enough: we found only three that support turn by turn indications. Note that there are much more that show you the direction on the screen, including the default Maps app and the new great gMaps app, but that defeats the purpose of driving from point to point without looking at the screen to figure out where to turn next all the time.
Drive On (Free)
Drive On by NuTech is free, but marked as beta version. This is a basic turn by turn navigation app; the UI is somewhat confusing, though: there are a lot of icons but it’s not clear what they do (after you find a place, what should you tap to get there ?). Also when you search for places it is not apparent that you need to wait (the blue dots in the center of the screen are just not visible enough over the satellite image).Finally Drive On got stuck a few times not showing our progress, so it’s hard to recommend. You should try it, because it’s free, but beware this is a beta, so results are not guaranteed.A recent update is improving things slightly but the new control in the middle of the screen is too big and hard to tap. If you remove some clutter, then Drive On has potential to be a good app.
Drive On for Windows Phone 7 (click to open with Zune) Best Windows Phone 7 Apps score 2 out of 5
Drive On for Windows Phone 7 (click to enlarge).1
Drive On for Windows Phone 7 (click to enlarge).0
 
Silver Navigator ($ 2.99)
Silver Navigator by GraphicDNA is another basic navigation app. Search is ok with clear indication of the destination and the options of walking or driving. Directions volume is too low though, it’s really hard to hear where you need to go next, even at full volume.Another problem is the route on the map gets redrawn continuously and so it happens often that you can’t even see where you need to drive next. The app supports landscape mode, which is nice, but the indications cover most of the screen making it almost useless.Even at $ 2.99, given that you cannot hear the indications and sometimes cannot even see them, Silver GPS is no better than gMaps or the regular Bing Maps app, which we would recommend over it.
Silver Navigator for Windows Phone 7 (click to open with Zune)
Silver Navigator for Windows Phone 7 (click to enlarge).2
Silver Navigator for Windows Phone 7 (click to enlarge).1
 
Turn By Turn Navigation ($ 4.99)
Turn By Turn Navigation by GPS Tuner is a new addition to the strict circle of voice directed navigation apps. This is a promising app, the best reviewed here, but it does not mean it has no room for improvement.Search is good with results shown on a map – a different approach than other GPS apps – interesting. But also sometimes annoying: if I enter the name of a place and the city where I want to go, why is the app showing similar places 20 or 30 miles away? We need to zoom to select what we already entered..not good.Selecting the destination will give you clear options to “GO” there (yeah!). The indications over the map are good with ETA, distance, speed and next turn.Navigation is just ok, though. The map is over the top rather than in prospective and the car seems to never be on the road: a little to the left, a little to the right.. A voice telling us that the GPS signal was lost is not providing additional confidence. Finally the app did not selected the best/shortest route in a couple of tries.Again, this is a promising app, and the best one available, but at the moment – especially at the price of $ 4.99 – it’s a bit of a stretch (maybe for 2.99?).Try it with the free trial that will allow you to plan trips of 12 miles or less.
UPDATE: We recently tried the most recent version of Turn by Turn (1.3 at the moment) and found it improved a lot. Now the navigation and planning works ok, bringing it at pair with some of the most expensive and popular navigators on other phones. The search could be improved, but the price tag is definitely enticing, and with a new rating of 4 out of 5 is worth a try.
Turn by Turn Navigation for Windows Phone 7 (click to open with Zune)
Turn by Turn Navigation for Windows Phone 7 (click to enlarge).1
Turn by Turn Navigation for Windows Phone 7 (click to enlarge).3
Closing comments:
Overall, we have been somewhat let down by the turn by turn navigation apps on WP7, we believe the best option at the moment is the basic Bing Maps app available on every phone, with gMaps as a great (and free) alternative.Later this year the Bing Maps app will also get voiced directions, making it even harder to top.Silver Navigator and Turn by Turn Navigation by GPS Tuner are example of promising first steps towards good third party navigation apps on WP7, though.Keep following Best WP7 Apps for updates on this popular category.
UPDATE: Turn by Turn is now a viable option and our navigator of choice for WP7, you can use it for your daily trips.

Filed Under: 4 StarsFeaturedNavigationTop Apps

  • http://www.facebook.com/lawlam Lawrence Lam

    Big caveat about the AT&T Navigator, aside from the monthly fee – once it loses location signal, it never tries to recover it again on its own so you end up getting way out of sync with the navigator.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Josiah-Glickstein/38416902 Josiah Glickstein

    Plus, you can’t multitask on AT&T Navigator for some reason, so hope you like hearing no music on those long drives if you want to be able to hear the navigator’s voice