iPhone/iPad Turn by Turn launched in Australia
Yesterday Apple enabled turn by turn for directions in Australia —*you must have an iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, or iPad 2/3/4/Mini and have already installed the latest software.
You don't need to do anything, just search for directions and start riding.
I tested it this morning, with the phone in my pocket and the standard headphones. Just stick it in your pocket, put your helmet on, hold down the main button on the inline mike at your neck and say "take me to work", then start riding.
For each intersection it will read out how far away it is, how to get through it, and the name of the street you're turning onto. It reads this out well before the intersection, then at the intersection, and then immediately after the intersection will tell you the next one (and how many kilometres/metres away it is).
It seems to handle complex intersections well, rolling multiple turns into a single easy to understand set of instructions. If you take a wrong turn, or know a better way ("don't tell me where to go woman!") a second or two later it will tell you how far away the next turn is on your new route. I turned off a major highway onto a small street, it immediately told me to do a u-turn at the next roundabout and when I didn't switched to a complex series of twists through suburban streets to get to work via the shortest route instead of the quickest.
In settings you can set the voice to "loud", which helps fight wind noise. The iPhone 5 launched along with new earbuds which, for me, are louder and more comfortable inside a helmet than the old one. If you've got an iPhone 4S you should consider trying out the new earbuds (they're cheap).
All up, it works well as a GPS you leave in the pocket without ever touching any buttons (except the one at your neck to tell it where you want to go). I haven't tried, but I think it's able to do basic things like find petrol or food or saved waypoints along your route, although this will probably require pulling over and taking the gloves off (depending how thick your gloves are).
Also not tested, but I'm fairly sure it will work with most bluetooth helmet systems. And if you have the phone mounted on the handlebars, with a charging lead, it shows a nice 3D view of each intersection, complete with 3D a terrain render (and even buildings/trees in capital cities). So far I've only left it in my pocket with the screen turned off - I'm still waiting for someone to sell a good handlebar mount for the new larger iPhone 5.
* there are reports it has a shitty database of business listings in australia, I haven't encountered that problem yet.
* keep an eye on the battery if you're going to use it for a few hours.
* if you set it to public transport mode, it just gives you a list of third party navigation apps that you might like to buy. if any of them are already installed there is a button to search with it. Apparently some cities in the world have free apps... mine doesn't.
* I've not tested it outside 3G range yet, but I assume it will not work (or will only kinda work). Based on my understanding of how it works, riding through black spots on the way should be fine as long as you have good coverage at the point where you first start riding, but I haven't tested it yet.
There was some kind of network outage this morning, my phone lost all data for about 5km in the city (but still had voice).
Apple's Maps app did not read any instructions out through that period. Holding the button on the earphones caused it to say "Siri not available, connect to the internet". When I rode into an area where the towers were working, it started reading turn by turn instructions again.
So, clearly, it does need data for turn by turn even when it has already calculated the route. I was hoping it would only need data when it needs to re-calculate the route.
If you need turn by turn to work outside the city then it's still necessary to install a third party app on an iPhone/iPad.
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