NDrive USA [$32.99 - iTunes link] is a new GPS app which features turn by turn direction, entering the already crowded marketplace. NDrive prides itself on a simple interface, and when looking at the map, that is readily apparent. The map itself has little of the clutter that some of the other apps have – no different colors for different land types, no buildings popping in, no markers for POIs, etc. Just you, the map, and the route. Some people may prefer this approach, others may not. I will point out that in some locations, you do have 3D buildings appear – certainly not in Edinburg TX, however.
The primary menu of NDrive is also focused on simplicity – four buttons, one for mapping, one for settings, one to “find” something (address, POI, etc), and one for “My NDrive”. This is one of the best things about NDrive. The buttons are easy to hit, easy to use, a key feature in any GPS app.
My Ndrive lets you create and store itineraries, define your home location, and other user focused activities. Once you get into some of the detail menus, however, the simplicity seems to vanish. In the settings menu, you have a lot of options of the screen, requiring you to really focus on adjusting things (often with a small plus or minus button to adjust the settings). This detracts somewhat from the great menu buttons in the original screen.
Like many of the recent apps, NDrive loads the maps onto the phone so no data connection is required. The maps themselves are multitouch active, so the commands you have learned (such as pinch and zoom) still work. The keyboard when typing directions is their own, and it is not qwerty. This may not be a problem for some, but for people who are getting used to the iPhone keyboard, it may prove difficult to adjust.
While using the app, the routes it suggested in town were reasonable, and the ETA’s seemed pretty reasonable as well. It did recognize Terlingua, TX (my mystery small town) so the maps seems pretty accurate. It also had my home street, which (being new) some maps are missing. The turn by turn directions didn’t say the street names or anything, simply giving distance and the direction of the turn. While driving, there is a lot of information on the screen – ETA, miles till the turn, distance left, speed. I liked having my GPS app display this information, although I also like being able to adjust it on my own, something that is not possible in NDrive. The map did occasionally stutter a little bit, but this only happened a couple of times during use.
In my mind, however, the main benefit of NDrive is the price. Many of the major GPS apps (which are also downloadable maps, not pay per use/month) are around the $70 to $100 price range. At $32.99, this is by far one of the cheaper apps. Give the features that it does have for this price, it is almost a no brainer for people who have been holding off on some of the more expensive apps because of the price.
On a side note, I was very happy to see that included with the "calculate alternative" you can choose to avoid or block certain roads. This is a great feature, especially if you simply don't like driving on a certain stretch of road, and I wish more apps utilized this.
All in all, while NDrive seemed to lack a lot of the bells and whistles that some of the other maps have (such as lane assist) the simple interface, cheap price, and inclusion of some key features (like speed limit warnings) really make it shine. Some drawbacks include the second layer of menu options (especially in settings) which don’t make it easy to make changes quickly, but the main menu is a thing of beauty for GPS apps. At $32.99, the price is great compared to others, and that is one of the primary reasons for the four star rating. If you are looking for a lot of bells and whistle, you may want to look elsewhere, but if you want a reliable, usable GPS turn by turn app without breaking the bank, look at NDrive. Four out of five stars.
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