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Road testing the Magellan RoadMate app for iPhone

We got our hands on an early copy of Magellan's RoadMate iPhone app, and tested it using an iPhone 3GS.

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CNET Reviews staff
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1 of 20 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Let's take this show on the road

We got our hands on an early copy of Magellan's RoadMate iPhone app, so we're testing it out on the iPhone 3GS.
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2 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Boot times

Including a quick safety message, the RoadMate app boots about as quickly as its hardware-based cousin.
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3 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Landscape mode

Portrait and landscape viewing modes are available for all screens. The interface is nearly identical to the RoadMate 1470, that we reviewed recently. Both systems feature text-to-speech directions, but the app's menu system has been simplified significantly.
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4 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Graphic lane guidance

When approaching a major intersection, the RoadMate app's lane guidance displays digital representations of highway signs, illuminating the one showing the lanes valid for staying on the chosen route.
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5 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Text-to-speech

The RoadMate app comes preloaded with a selection of voices for turn-by-turn directions in a variety of languages. Voices that work with the text-to-speech system are marked TTS and will read street and POI names aloud as part of the directions.
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6 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Night mode

When the app detects (using the current time) that it is nighttime, the color palette shifts to a night mode, which is darker and less likely to dazzle the driver.
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7 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

3D+ mode

The RoadMate app's maps come in three versions: 2D, 3D, and 3D+, which features 3D building data for people who like to navigate visually.
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8 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

OneTouch menu

The OneTouch menu is a user-customizable favorites menu that holds frequently accessed shortcuts. Unlike the standalone RoadMate, the OneTouch menu can only be accessed from the map screen.
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9 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Adding OneTouch shortcuts

Up to 20 frequently accessed searches, addresses, and POIs can be added to the OneTouch menu, unlike the the standalone RoadMate, which only have six customizable slots.
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10 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

POI name search

Users are able to search for POIs by name...
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POI category search

...or by category. Both methods are remarkably quick relative to a similarly priced entry level PND.
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Input screen

The input screen features a large, easy to hit keypad--which is better suited for use at arm's length than the iPhone's tiny onscreen keyboard--with an autocomplete function that attempts to finish your words and blanks out invalid keys, reducing mistypings.
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13 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

QWERTY keyboard

Rotating the screen to a landscape orientation enlarges the keyboard to fill the screen and adjusts to a QWERTY layout.
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14 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Confirmation screen

Once a destination is chosen, users confirm their trip on this screen. Touching the car icon toggles between driving and walking directions and hitting the big orange GO button starts the trip.
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15 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Routing options

However, if you hit the Options button at the bottom of the confirmation screen, you're brought to this routing options menu that calculates a variety of alternative routes simultaneously and presents them for comparison.
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16 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Route comparison map

The route comparison map presents all four alternate routes on one color coded map. I find this mode is great for finding windy driving roads when I'm not in a rush to be somewhere.
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17 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Driving directions

Additionally, users can preview the turn-by-turn directions for any route and simulate the trip before finally choosing an option and going.
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Where's my car?

Once you reach your destination at the end of a driving trip, the RoadMate automatically stores your car's location. Users can then use walking directions to find their way back to a lost vehicle with ease.
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19 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Emergency menu

Searches to emergency services are located in the OneTouch menu and in the main menu. Because this is an iPhone app, users are also able to call emergency services directly from the search screen.
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20 of 20 Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Media playback

Users are also given access to their iPhone's media library through this playback screen, which means that you won't have to exit the app to pick a new playlist.

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