Consumer Reports tests smart-phone GPS apps

January 16, 2012 10:01:58 AM PST
Sales of portable GPS units have fallen, but plenty of people are downloading navigation apps to get where they're going.

Although GPS on smartphones has improved, believe it or not when Consumer Reports tested the GPS apps, it's one area the iPhone didn't do as well as the Android.

Navigation apps are getting better than ever, says Consumer Reports. Some sport features are reality view to show major intersections, or celebrity voices that you can download for some laughs.

If you own an Android phone you're in luck. It comes with free Google navigation built right in. And it has turn-by-turn directions, just like you'd find on a regular GPS.

But if you're an iPhone user, you need to download an app to get GPS-style navigation.

"There are plenty of free options available, but we've found you tend to get what you pay for," said Jim Travers from Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports says you can't go wrong buying an app from one of the GPS giants- Tomtom, Garmin, Navigon and Magellan.

"It's no surprise that the companies whose GPS navigators do best in our testing also make some of the top apps for the iPhone," said Travers.

But expect to pay up to $60 for a quality, name-brand app. And know that the download can eat up a chunk of your iPhone's memory.

And a word about safety: No matter how you choose to navigate, pull over and come to a full stop whenever you program your device.

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