You'd be in good company if you read that headline and immediately thought that using a big ol' tablet like the new Apple iPad for in-car navigation is a bit silly--I think it's a bit silly, too. However, in a world where new cars are rolling out with dashboard touch screens measuring 8 inches and larger and portable navigation devices are touching the 7-inch mark, perhaps the iPad isn't as out of place on the road as you may think.
There are all sorts of advantages to using a large-screened device in the car. The big display is easier to view with your peripheral vision and the larger interface elements can be more quickly recognized and processed at a glance, both of which translate into more time spent staring at the road ahead and less time scrutinizing a tiny screen for the next turn. Additionally, the larger screen is easier to accurately touch from an arm's length, so you may find that you make fewer mistakes when inputting destinations.
Of course, only the new iPad 4G and the 3G-connected variant of the previous-generation iPad 2 are equipped with an Assisted GPS receiver, so you'll want to make sure you have the correct model before investing in a navigation application. Also, because the iPad is significantly larger than the iPhone 4S, you won't want to obstruct half of your windshield with its 10-inch display. Get your hands on a dashboard mount--or get creative and fabricate your own!
Once your iPad is set up for safe use behind the wheel, check out one of the apps listed below to add turn-by-turn directions and other navigation-centric services, such as traffic data and speed trap info, to your motoring mix. Just be sure to resist the urge to fire up the YouTube app on your commute home!
At $49.99, TomTom U.S.A. for iPhone and iPad has the highest cost of entry of the apps in this roundup, but for your bucks TomTom gives you its tried and true navigation engine powered by its iQ Routes technology and locally stored map data. For an additional $19.99 per year, the TomTom app gains access to the HD Traffic service, which we've found to be extremely accurate and invaluable for avoiding (or at least planning for) congestion on both highways and surface streets. iTunes link.
MotionX GPS Drive HD
Some may find MotionX's interface to be a bit tricky to understand, but fans of this inexpensive GPS navigation app rave about its destination selection wheel and configurable interface. The app is also able to take advantage of connectivity with Pioneer's AppRadio and certain JVC video receivers for dual-display action. With an entry price of $2.99 and a $9.99 annual subscription fee for Live Voice Guidance (which includes Inrix Traffic data), MotionX also sits at the low end of the premium navigation application price range. iTunes link.
CoPilot Live Premium HD USA
CoPilot Live is a love it or hate it sort of app--personally, I love it. Of the apps in this roundup, it's easily the most flexible and tweakable, which should appeal to GPS geeks who want to overload on data without alienating users who just want something simple. For $15.99, you get locally stored maps, so you can navigate even when you're off of the gird. From there, users can add traffic data and a fuel prices feed for $9.99 and $7.99 annually, respectively. iTunes link.
Waze social GPS & traffic
There are more than a few fans of crowd-sourced navigation app Waze around the CNET offices. For the low, low price of free, you get spoken turn-by-turn directions, user-generated traffic and road hazard data, and a fun game that challenges drivers to score points by gobbling virtual treats along their commute. Waze's interface may not be the most polished one in this roundup and sometimes its user-generated maps aren't so accurate, but if Google Map's dominance in the Android market has taught us anything, it's that it's hard to beat "free." iTunes link.
Scout by TeleNav
Scout grabbed our attention at CES 2012, quickly securing a spot as a Best of CES nominee. This free app, powered by TeleNav, works in concert with a Web-based interface to help users to manage their destinations, social networks, and, when on-the-road, provide turn-by-turn directions. Owners of Ford Sync AppLink powered vehicles should take note, because Scout will soon gain compatibility with Ford's voice-activated interface. iTunes link.