Free and pre-installed with the iPhone 3G
This is the basic GPS app that comes installed with the iPhone 3G. It is useful if you are connected (or online) to search for a destination and can plot a route plot a route there. It will cache (or put viewed portions of that map into temporary storage) so that you can still navigate to your destination if you go offline. The downside is that there is no ‘heading up’ display. The display is ‘North up’, which means that North is always displayed at the top of the iPhone. Not a big deal, I just rotate the iPhone to keep myself orientated.
MotionX GPS v 4.1
$2.99 at the App Store
This is perhaps the slickest looking GPS App out there for the iPhone, and it is the only paid app in this review. MotionX GPS allows you to plot, store and review tracks. I’ve been using this program for a few months now, and MotionX continues to improve the functionality of this app. The latest version (v4.1) allows maps (OpenStreetMap) to be cached, and hence allows increased functionality. However, while I’ll admit that I’m still new to OpenStreetMaps, I just don’t find the current OpenStreetMaps to be all that useful.
Free, but for Jailbroken iPhones only
xGPS is currently the only app that will allow you to download Google Maps onto your iPhone using its own free program called xGPS Manager (available for Windows, Mac and Linux OS). Although the documentation is scant, the process is straightforward. I downloaded the Google maps for my upcoming bicycle tour of Vietnam easily and transferred them onto my iPhone quite painlessly.
This app will allow you to use those stored maps for navigation. While you are online, you can search out destinations and store them as routes that you can call upon when you are offline for navigation. xGPS also allows ‘heading up’ navigation, which means that the map will automatically align itself to the direction of travel. The kicker: xGPS v1.2.0 also has turn-by-turn voice navigation.
xGPS is a little rough around the edges, but it is also currently the single most useful GPS app out there. With the iPhone 3.0 firmware update just around the corner, if there is still a reason to jailbreak your iPhone, xGPS is it.