Gokivo for iPhone Review

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$9.99

Pros: Unique graphical search ; Spoken street names ; Ability to control music playback within the app

Cons: Can't search in a particular city ; Blocky-looking maps ; Slow rerouting times

Verdict: This GPS iPhone app has the best integration with Apple's device, but could use some polishing.

When it created its GPS app for the iPhone, Networks in Motion went a different direction than other navigation companies. As a result, experienced GPS users will need to learn their way around this product's unique interface, but iPhone owners who are new to GPS devices will quickly take to the app. That's because Gokivo resembles the iPhone's Maps app and has a more iPhone-like way of working than AT&T Navigator or Navigon. If Gokivo can work out the kinks, this $9.99-per-month service has the potential to upset some of the more established GPS navigators.

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Installation and Interface

Gokivo, created by Networks in Motion, is either a basic mapping app or a turn-by-turn GPS app, depending on how much you pay. The 99-cent download gets you a map-based business search tool with access to Yahoo Local Search reviews. For an extra $9.99 per month, you can navigate to your finds. At 3.4MB, Gokivo is similar in size to AT&T's navigation app, and takes up much less room than Navigon's 1.3GB install. The downside is that, if you're out of AT&T's data coverage area and not connected to Wi-Fi, you won't be able to download maps to the iPhone.

The Gokivo interface is a simple, somewhat blocky 2D map, with a search bar above it. Tap a down arrow icon to select a business category or search from your recent destinations. The category list is especially large when compared to standard GPS navigators. It could use some fine-tuning though: there are no quick links to ATM searches, gas stations, or parking, as there are with most GPS devices. The POI database has around 15 million entries, and felt up to date. As with maps, you'll need to be in an AT&T service area or connected to the Internet to access it.

Tapping the address book icon to the right of the search bar let us search our iPhone's stored Address Book contacts, a feature shared by Navigon but not AT&T Navigator. You can create favorites for quick access, but you can't specifically save a home address.

After you've run a search, you'll see the results on the map with a series of red pushpins. This graphic approach is how Gokivo most differentiates itself from other navigation apps, and may seem most intuitive to users accustomed to the iPhone, but not necessarily GPS devices. Tapping a search result gave us the option of calling it, getting directions, or reading Yahoo Local Search reviews.

If you want to see results in a different location, you can drag the map to that new area. We were able to use two-finger pinching to zoom in or out on the map. It's a blessing if you're trying to find a restaurant but aren't exactly sure what town it's in, but a burden if you need to search for a store in a particular city and aren't sure where it's located.

Maps and Navigation

The 3D navigation interface on Gokivo for iPhone is basic, with blocky maps and little detail. It could use some fine-tuning. We especially disliked that the turn arrow on the map was white; because roads are occasionally colored white, this can make the arrow difficult to see. Like AT&T Navigator, there's no landscape mode, and this app doesn't offer visual lane assistance.

On the plus side, the screen never went dark during our testing, as it did with the Navigon app. We liked the color-coded traffic info in the lower left corner, letting us know how much delay to expect, but we didn't like having to toggle for info, such as arrival time or distance. If you shake the iPhone, Gokivo will automatically create a detour around the congestion; this is inadvisable if you have the iPhone mounted to your dashboard. You can also press the Detour button, and select either a road or the distance you want to route around the traffic jam.

Gokivo pronounces street names, and while there's only one voice, it was accurate. A handy music control feature let us adjust our music without leaving the app: tap the music note icon from the map view, and the music menu slides into place.

Like AT&T Navigator, rerouting took from 11 to 14 seconds, which is plenty slow, and we noticed an almost half-block lag between our position on the map and our actual location.

Verdict

We like Gokivo's fresh approach to search, but this $9.99-per-month app feels somewhat unfinished. A software update will be available this fall, which, according to Gokivo, will enhance the GPS performance and improve the user interface. For now, we prefer Navigon for iPhone because it doesn't provide a monthly fee, but Gokivo is a worthy competitor that will get better with age.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Platforms iPhone
Company Website http://www.gokivo.com