Currently Tinkering: NavDroyd (Android)

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I’ve been looking for a good offline map system for my phone (Samsung Galaxy 5, running on Android Froyo 2.1) for the past year. For a while I’ve been using MapDroyd, which is a fairly okay map which I also find it better than Google Maps just because of the offline feature and the ability that it doesn’t turn off the screen if it knows that I’m moving, but it lacks the ability to help me when driving since Google’s Navigation which is also part of Google Maps doesn’t work at the slightest bit if it detects that you are in the Philippines. While I was using MapDroyd, I stumbled upon other programs developed by the same company called NavDroyd. Strangely out of searching on Google Play, I couldn’t find the program, but when I got the link, I didn’t hesitate much to try it out. Especially when one reviewer was a Filipino who lives in Bicutan which is pretty much close to where I live gave a very positive remark.

So, I downloaded the app for less than PhP300. I said to myself, why not. If it this one person who lives close by thinks that it works great, then I think it might work for me too. It’s not easy to look for a navigation program that will work in the Philippines. I’ve heard about Garmin, but the problem with that is that it’s pretty expensive compared to this one. It’s like in the thousands of pesos, even though I hear that it’s pretty good, I do hesitate because of the cost alone.

The program itself is pretty fast to download, but I did have problems getting the map to get installed. It took me several tries to install the Philippine map, but I noticed the map keeps stopping once the phone’s screen turns off. So, I’ve set the screen power saver to 30 minutes so that it won’t bother my download of the maps. This time it downloaded flawlessly. I had to check every few minutes to make sure the download was still working though, just to make sure. For some reason, the program hung up once the map was downloaded fully. But it wasn’t too much of a hassle since after restarting the program, it seemed like the map was already working.

I didn’t have time to test the basic features yet because I had to drive my wife to work. But it was also the best opportunity to try the navigation system. I let the program check the my location through GPS and I’ve set my destination. After a few seconds of calculating, it got the route and it seemed that it’s the one I usually take, give or take a few different turns, but generally, it got it right. Once I got my wife to her office, it was time for me to try out other features and get into it’s details.

I was a little bothered that were was no speech at first, even though the program seems to have the setting for it. But I did remember that I didn’t install the Text to Speech function. This might be the reason why it won’t voice out any update status. As soon as I installed the Text-To-Speech feature of the Android phone, I tried the guidance feature of NavDroyd and the voice update status worked fine.

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The map itself uses almost the same data as MapDroyd, although what bothers me is that the map uses a separate folder in your memory card. So you have to use 2 different maps if you want to keep the 2 programs. I suggest to remove MapDroyd if you have NavDroyd already since all the features of MapDroyd are already incorporated in NavDroyd. If you are not happy with the map, the system itself is currently using OpenMap which is updated by almost anyone around the world. You can download on your computer the map editing software and upload it. At some point you may notice that once you update your map in NavDroyd, it will eventually get the updates you made on OpenMap.

The basic icons are:

Find: This is the search function. So far, it can list down most roads and major locations. Although, it’s not perfect since I typed “Mall of Asia” and it didn’t register, but I typed “Glorietta” and it found it easily.

Routing: This sets the route for your starting point to destination point. You can set locations by either clicking a marker on the map or setting up pins. It’s quite easy to use. What I also like is that it can also compute based on the fastest or shortest route, by car, walking or bike. Another feature is that once you’ve made a route, you can check each turn by showing you an up and down arrow icon and a list icon in between.

My Location: This basically tries to locate your current position using the GPS.

My Pins: This function will only work once you’ve setup a pin. This basically lists your pins. Pins are made by making markers, then making details for the specific marker. So even if you disabled the marker, the pin will be saved.

Cruise Mode: This function will work once it has set your current location or while it’s being used for directions using the Routing function. The map will also shift into 3D mode, which is optional (steep, normal or 2D). There is so many things to see here, like time duration of driving, covered distance, current speed, current street, compass and the distance to next turn. There are other optional details like altitude, distance of route, arrival time and time left. What I like about this is also, they made a simulation mode once you’ve set a route. So it can give you a good idea how you’ll drive from one place to another without actually trying it out yourself before you drive for real.

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I suppose my only problem with the program is that it doesn’t give you a option to set your own route since it only sets based on fastest and shortest, although based on what routes it made, they aren’t so bad.

There is no satellite map image, but for me that’s a good thing so that it won’t load too long, but sometimes the map is a little inaccurate. I do wish they update it more, but I suppose there are too many maps to update all at the same time. But I do like that they update major roads on a regular basis. There are different color schemes to view the map, but that’s personal preference, like night time and day time colors. Another thing I like is that the day and night colors can change automatically depending on the time.

Regarding the battery life of your Android phone, this drains your battery a lot. Usually, my phone lasts for 2-3 days, but ever since I installed NavDroyd, it only lasts a day, forcing me to recharge almost every night. This is a big inconvenience for me though, but it does help me through my travelling everyday.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the application. I’ve seen a lot or navigation devices like Garmin, Magellan and phones with Nokia’s Ovi Map and all. But most of them are either expensive or it doesn’t work on a low end phone. But NavDroyd is a cheap option and it does what I wanted it to do. I’m very happy with this purchase and I just hope they keep on adding more features along the way.

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  1. Phone Problem « Pinoy Video Gamer

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