The fact that you can get as good as (if not better) GPS navigation on a phone as by using a separate GPS navigation device is one of the best reasons to have a smartphone these days. An offline app that uses its own quality maps is much better than those that require the internet and I have been experimenting with a range of free and paid apps over the last few years. I recently approached the makers of MetroView as the comments on the Play store seemed very good and they kindly provided a code for me to install their app and test it out.
It has taken me a while to do the full testing – mainly because my aging Huawei phone hadn’t enough memory left to install it, so I decided to install and test it on our 7″ Lenovo tablet. I have to say that I am actually very impressed. Ease of use is right up there in my requirements for a good GPS navigation app, I can’t stand confusing menus or having to exit an app once I have ‘arrived at my destination’ and this was the first thing I discovered with MetroView. I just searched for an address by the usual method of entering city/town, street name, street number and then tapping the large ‘Navigate’ button. The first thing I noticed was that my route could easily be checked by moving the map, which clearly shows street names if you zoom in a little, then to return to navigation mode, I just tapped ‘Exit browse’ – simple.
My next surprise was hearing the great voice providing the guidance – a pleasant male or female voice with an Aussie accent – then I was stunned to hear the directions. Not only did I get the usual ‘take the second exit at the next roundabout’, I got the street names clearly (and accurately) spoken but I also got the next turn after that briefly described. This was a first for me and I was very impressed. There is no annoying ‘turn in 500 metres’ then another ‘turn here’ prompt at the turn itself, just a single turn message in plenty of time prior to the intersection followed by the next turn coming up ahead information message. This feature alone made using the app to navigate a much more pleasant and calm experience than other apps I have used.
I was taken to my destination by the best route and the next pleasant surprise was that house numbers are displayed on the map. When I left I had my last surprise – there were no messages that I had to turn back when I left the app running with the last destination still active! The app assumed that I was finished with that trip as it had got me there and quietly continued displaying where I was and awaiting a new destination. Recalculating if I deliberately turned off the route to test this was very rapid too.
Other features that impressed me were the ability to store the app and maps on the SD card I have installed in the tablet. With an almost 1Gb map this is important for devices with limited built in storage. The lane guidance worked well as did the speed warnings if I crept over the limit or approached a speed camera or school zone and the current speed limit is always displayed on the map. Navigation to one of your contacts is straightforward and there are a lot of POIs (points of interest) available offline including service stations while others can be searched if you have internet access available where you are.
Magnifying the map or changing the angle of view when in 3D mode is a simple matter of tapping the easy to use controls overlaid on the map. I was briefly concerned when I thought that I had to tap the small menu button to change a setting or my destination until I worked out that I could just tap anywhere on the screen to do this which is certainly safer when driving. Finally, the designers have obviously put a lot of thought into what is shown on the top and bottom bars – top has next turn and the street name, bottom has current speed, distance to destination and estimated time to go – in my book that’s perfect.
Yes, it isn’t free but in comparison with other paid navigation apps (or buying a GPS unit) the price is very reasonable in my opinion. If you want a good, reliable GPS navigation app for Australian or New Zealand driving I reckon you would be hard pressed to find one as good as this.
MetroView Nav Australia & NZ
Price : A$19.80
Size : 411Mb (plus map)
Needs : 2.2+