The most interesting capability, however, comes from the linkage to the skobbler website, as mentioned earlier. The website is able to connect into the OpenStreet Map database, so you can search for destinations on a desktop system, then save your results. These will then magically appear within your iPhone’s skobbler app, ready for you to navigate towards. This could be very useful if you’re planning a long trip with multiple destinations, and the more comfortable desktop operating system interface will make finding a series of locations a far quicker process.
Unfortunately, this brings us to skobbler’s biggest weakness. Like Google Maps Navigation, skobbler requires an active data connection to operate. This isn’t necessary all the time, but it’s an absolute requirement when you first set up your route or diverge from the chosen path, requiring recalculation. We found that if we left the route in an area of no data coverage, there would come a point where the map disappeared and we ended up travelling through what looked like open space. Under similar circumstances, Google Maps Navigation appeared at least to have a low-resolution backup available, so we had a vague idea of the roads we were on.
In transit, with adequate data connectivity, skobbler shows the now-ubiquitous quasi-three dimensional map view, and its handling of horizons is fairly well executed. You get a clear idea of the forthcoming road systems. However, it doesn’t have a landscape mode, so won’t flip if you rotate your iPhone into this orientation, and there’s no manual way of enabling this either.
An icon on the bottom left of the map illustrates the next turning, and a segmented bar next to this counts down as the turning approaches, so you know when to expect it. Along the bottom is the street name or road number to look out for at your next turning, and beneath this on the left is the distance to your destination, with the remaining time on the far right and estimated arrival time in the middle.