It might seem a bit of a weird idea, using your phone as a sat-nav system. But when you think about it, all of the ingredients are there. Most phones these days have full colour screens and enough horsepower to run sat-nav mapping software. And though built-in GPS receivers are still a novelty, most modern handsets are equipped with Bluetooth, meaning you can add GPS functionality really easily with a Bluetooth GPS receiver module.
And because many phones have some form of Internet connection now, it’s a snap to integrate stuff like traffic information, and update maps seamlessly. As a result, many of the major navigation software makers are now offering their packages for smartphones.
Wayfinder Navigator 7, however, takes the concept of the connected sat-nav system to extremes. Instead of storing the maps on a data card locally Wayfinder takes your route request and sends map, route and other pertinent data in small chunks to the phone as and when required.
This makes a lot of sense – it ensures you’ve always got the most up to date maps to hand. It means that you always have access to the most up to date points of interest. It gets around the memory restriction problems of phones with no expansion slot, and it also means that it’s simple to integrate up-to-date speed camera and traffic information. Navigator 7 includes speed camera warnings as standard plus a month’s worth of traffic updates as well, after which you have to pay an extra subscription fee.
To get it up and running, all you need is a compatible phone – check the website for this, but it is pretty extensive – a GPS receiver module, and an Internet connection of some sort. Wayfinder supports GPRS, EDGE, and 3G services. I couldn’t get it to work with my 3 phone, but when using the T-mobile and O2 service it seemed just fine. If you’re unsure it’ll work on your phone or with your network, the software is also available as a 30-day trial, so that you can try before you buy.
Once installed it all works very well. Voice instructions are clear, giving you plenty of warning before a turn as well as linking instructions when turns are close together. Route decisions are reasonably sensible too, getting you where you want to go and the 3D map display is clear and uncluttered – it seems to work well even on a relatively small screen. In addition, the maps seem accurate and up to date (they’re based on Tele Atlas data, the same as Mio products), and the points of interest database is excellent – even Wi-Fi hotspots are flagged up as you drive past.