Recently Mireo has released an offline GPS navigation app for Android (and iOS) which uses extremely accurate maps from Navteq and which is also free of charge. It seems interesting, doesn’t it? Let’s see what this app can do.
I don’t know if you have heard about Mireo, although they have a rich GPS app portfolio for most dedicated GPS navigation systems and more recently for smartphones and tablets with Android and iOS. It developes offline navigation apps such as Mireo Black Edition 3.1, Mireo Don’t Panic or Genius Driver.
Recently the manufacturer added to his portfolio Genius Maps which we had the chance to test . It can be downloaded for free from Google Play and then we can chose to install (only) the maps we need.
The app works offline (except for Live Traffic feature ) which means we don’t need mobile traffic data as in the case of Google Maps, and it uses Navteq maps for routing which are downloaded and stored in your phone’s memory (or on your memory card so make sure you have enough space). Surprisingly enough these maps are also free of charge, although they are premium maps which on most apps of this kind are offered for a price (Copilot, Sygic or iGO Primo).
Of course as for any other app we need to pay for some features which I think we need. I am referring to Pro Guidance (which includes Turn-by-Turn directions that are essential to any navigation software) and Live Traffic which we will talk about soon.
Graphic user interface (UI) and routing.
As for graphics, menu and user mode, Genius Maps is a simple app that you will be able to handle perfectly after only a couple of minutes of usage.
The map takes up the screen of the Android smartphone or tablet entirely, and the toolbar is placed subtly at the bottom where we can easily access the app menu. The colors chosen are slightly faded focusing mainly on highlighting the route to be followed.
We enjoyed that during the routing, in the upper right corner it displays the available gas stations ( the nearest ones to our location ) although some people were unhappy with the fact that it obstructs the map screen and there isn’t any option in the menu where we can choose not to display them.
The map and route to be followed can be displayed in 2D or 3D mode and searching for an address or a point of interest is done simply by tapping the magnifying glass in the lower left corner.
Searching destinations and creating routes
Genius Maps uses a single search field where we can enter the city, street, point of interest, coordinates, postal codes…in fact every detail we can think of. By using a somewhat “smart” search engine (PREDICTIVE SEARCH) it can recognize typing errors (input errors) and it can sort out our given information and will display the desired results according to our location or parameters entered right below the search box.
After choosing the destination, the route is promptly calculated but the application gives us the possibility to choose alternatives if we don’t like the initial route. We can set it to avoid highways, unpaved roads, railways, and toll roads on our route. We simulated several paths and routes given by Genius Maps which were to our liking because they were optimally adjusted.
Choosing a waypoint for another destination, or any other adjustment of the route is done effortlessly. We tap on the desired place on the map and the “add a destination” feature will promptly appear. Thus we can add as many stops as we want to make by following these easy steps.
In order to optimize the route and set the order in which we want to make our stops we enter the Route/Route Stops menu and by holding one of the stops we can move it to the desired position. We can follow the same procedure with all the waypoints/intermediate stops and even the start and destination points until we get a perfectly optimized route. No complicated menus or several steps, only by drag and drop and you’re good to go.
There are some small issues that should be mentioned: shifting from landscape mode to portrait mode which causes display errors (tested on Galaxy S3) and on exiting the app by using the back button doesn’t close the app but allows it to run in the background. In order to properly exit the app we must press the features button at the bottom right and then tap Quit twice and you’re done …a bit hard isn’t it?
The biggest disadvantage is the absence of voice guidance if we don’t purchase Pro Guidance separately. Without turn-by-turn directions it is somewhat difficult to use this app if you are driving because you will have to pay attention to the information on the phone’s screen along the way.
Besides free maps and a simple menu, Genius Maps has much more to offer.
The navigation app has integrated Facebook sharing so we can share through a simple tap on the screen our location or details about our trips with our friends on this social network. Google Street view is also available at a simple touch. After choosing the destination, we tap the details icon then we click on the icon associated with Streetview and in a couple of seconds we will be able to explore the respective area. Of course we also need internet access to use this feature.
Since we were talking about the lack of turn-by-turn direction it is essential to mention the paid features:
Pro Guidance turns Genius Maps into a perfect offline navigation app. Besides the turn-by-turn direction which is vital in our travels, we are vocally alerted about: automatic rerouting, speed limit alerts, POI along the route.
In addition we also permanently receive free updates for the initial chosen region and you also receive 3D display of the buildings and objectives on the map. The manufacturer offers a 7 day trial for the Pro guidance feature and it remains to be seen if you find it useful or if you choose to stay with the free app and maps.
The second feature which will make you spend a lot of money is Live Traffic. I haven’t had the chance to test this feature due to the area where I live but it’s supposed to make people’s lives much easier especially those who travel a lot on roads where they commonly encounter traffic jams and congestion or any other traffic problems.
What does Live Traffic actually do?
It basically receives real time information (you need to have a permanent Internet connection for this as well) about road conditions (congestion, traffic jams), accidents or maintenance works which can affect or delay reaching our destination. In such cases, Genius Maps will recalculate the route providing a faster and smoother option or we can check the route’s situation and traffic problems ourselves before starting off on the road so we can adjust the route according to our preferences. It is as easy to use as the rest of the apps.
The license you buy is for life and the price is somewhat cheaper than the apps with similar features provided by Sygic or Copilot for Android. You can test this feature for free and if you are convinced you need it you can keep it. I personally have no use for it.
New offline navigation apps for Android or iPhone are released every month. Many of them charge for their top features and many of them are free but come with a lot of disadvantages. Genius Maps is somewhere in between. It is a free GPS app which provides free premium Navteq maps, a smart search and using this app is really easy even for those who have never used such apps. The routes and their alternatives are accurate and similar to those offered by premium apps such as Navigon or Copilot, and creating a personalized route is done in a couple of minutes.
The greatest shortcoming is the absence of turn-by-turn direction which is vital nowadays. Of course some of you will say that it is enough as it is, while others may see the app somewhat useless while driving especially because it lacks this feature. If you have tested this app I want to hear what you think of it.
Can it become one of the most popular navigation apps for Android or not?