GPS on your smart phone

December 27, 2011 8:08:01 PM PST
Sales of portable GPS units have fallen, but plenty of people are downloading navigation apps to get where they're going. Consumer Reports tested some of the latest GPS apps for your smart phone. It says navigation apps are getting better than ever.

Some sport features like reality view to show major intersections, or celebrity voices that you can download for some laughs.

If you own an Android phone, you're in luck. It comes with free Google navigation built right in. And it has turn-by-turn directions, just like you'd find on a regular GPS.

But if you're an iPhone user, you need to download an app to get GPS-style navigation.

There are plenty of free options available, but Consumer Reports found you tend to get what you pay for.

Instead, Consumer Reports says you can't go wrong buying an app from one of the GPS giants: Garmin, Navigon, Tomtom and Magellan. And testers aren't surprised that the companies whose GPS navigators do best in Consumer Reports' testing also make some of the top apps for the iPhone.

But expect to pay up to $60 for a quality, name-brand app. And know that the download can eat up a chunk of your iPhone's memory.

And no matter which phone you have, be aware that most have smaller screens than portable GPS units. And you'll have to factor in the cost of a mount and a charger to make the most of your smart phone navigator.

Consumer Reports says the price of apps fluctuates, but you can save by shopping for sales, or by limiting your download to a specific region?say, maps of the East Coast.

And a word about safety. No matter how you choose to navigate, pull over and come to a full stop whenever you program your device.

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