Review Price free/subscription
Apple iTunes Link: skobbler UK/Ireland Lite
Most things about the iPhone cost a premium – the hardware is just the beginning. Where Android phones now have Google Maps Navigation, and Nokia phones can call on Ovi Maps, if you wanted turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone you would have to fork out a fairly hefty sum for ALK CoPilot Live 8, TomTom for iPhone or Navigon MobileNavigator for iPhone. Enter skobbler, which used to cost a couple of quid but can now be had for nothing, although if you want speed camera warnings, you'll need the version that costs the princely sum of £1.19. Whereas other iPhone sat-nav apps rely on licensed data from third parties, skobbler uses OpenStreetMap, a crowd-sourced alternative. Since its UK launch three weeks ago, the new free Skobbler has already been downloaded an impressive 72,000 times.
When you load skobbler, the initial screen asks you to log in. You can skip this and still retain the majority of functionality. But logging in will give you an extra feature that works in tandem with the skobbler website. You need to set up an account here first, which you can then link to via your mobile app. But more of this later in the review.
Skobbler offers all the usual address-finding options. You can input city, street and house number to pinpoint your destination. It’s also possible to use a postcode, but not the full seven digits. So you will still need to know the street name and house number.
Another important omission is a points of interest database, so you can’t search for nearby restaurants or petrol stations at all. The maps are supposed to show these locations as you travel, but in practice we didn’t see any. On a more positive note, although OpenStreetMap is ostensibly user generated, which could lead to a distinct lack of data in infrequently traversed rural regions, we found our destinations in every location we tried.
To save time finding frequently used destinations, you can also save a home location and a list of favourites. One of the potential benefits of smartphone-based sat-nav software is that you can potentially link into your phone’s contacts database, too. Skobbler offers this feature, and we found it accurate with properly completed contacts.
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