App of the day: Skobbler GPS Navigation & Maps review (Android)
We've looked at some navigation apps that are based on Skobbler before, but this is a new app that's similar to its enormously popular iOS app. The idea is simple: make affordable turn-by-turn navigation for walking or driving, and allow people to download extra maps for a decent price.
And the pricing is really the headline here. Just £1 gets you the app and a map of a region of your choice and things stay reasonably priced, even if you want the whole world. For those looking for a single city, it's just £0.77, states cost £1.11 and £2.22 gets you a whole country. You can also buy a continent for £4.44 or the whole globe for just £7.77. That is a bargain and the firm promises that updates will be free forever.
Skobbler GPS Navigation & Maps
- £1 for app and first country (Free 14 day trial)
- Google Play
Now one might argue that on Android, Google maps is so good, and so free, that it's hardly worth considering the other options. And that's true, but a large percentage of Google's appeal comes down to its having a powerful online system running the show. That means you can do voice searching, look up local sights and attractions and get traffic data. But abroad, this is unaffordable for the vast majority of people because being online and mapping is incredibly costly in roaming data.
So here we have an app with which you can download offline maps to use when you're abroad for very little money, and which require no data connection to search. If you are online, then the phone can check for any current changes too, but the functionality is still good even if you're sans data, as the French would say.
In terms of looks and style, there's nothing to worry about either. It doesn't look like a cheap product, and it's faster and more responsive than several high-cost premium apps we've used. The maps are provided by OpenStreetMap, the open source community powered mapping engine. The app also mentions that the company is looking at using customer telemetry to detect traffic hold-ups.
Search feels very much like a traditional satnav. You can search by town, street and house number, which is a very TomTom way of doing things and will be familiar to anyone who has used a standard satnav. Although it doesn't say so, you can replace the town/city with a postcode, and it works fine. We're surprised it doesn't tell you that, but it's worth knowing as a lot of people rely on postcodes for navigation.
You also get the ability to search by coordinates, categories and locally. If your phone contacts have addresses associated with them, then you can simply touch them and the app will route you to their address. We think that's a pretty stunning feature, to be honest.
Voice guidance and turn-by-turn are both clear and functional too. It's really pleasant to use, and there's no difference in quality between this and a more expensive product. The speech is really good too, not some robot voice barking nonsense at you.
All in all, for a quid, you really can't go wrong here.