Yapp Mobile Mocal for iPhone app
Mocal is an Australian developed, free iPhone search app
- Free, straightforward and effective interface, comprehensive search listings, 30-day navigation trial, maps are updated as they become available
- Poor overall navigational experience, included voice is choppy and has strange pauses, no advanced navigation features
We'd give Mocal's navigation features a miss for the moment. However, as an Australian search tool it's handy and comprehensive, and it will only get better with more content. Best of all, it's free.
Mocal is a free, Australian-developed iPhone app that lets you search for business listings, restaurants, and a wealth of other points of interest based on your current location. Also offering turn-by-turn directions for when you're on foot or in your car, Mocal is an excellent Australian search tool but we'd definitely steer clear of it for GPS navigation.
As soon as you fire up the Mocal for iPhone app, you're greeted with a straightforward Find menu, with options to search for business listings, restaurants, bars or cafes, petrol prices, parking stations and a range of Navteq points of interest (POIs). At the bottom of the screen is a familiar iPhone navigation bar with Find, See, Go, Favourites and Settings menus.
As a search tool, Mocal for iPhone does an excellent job. It's one of the most comprehensive Australian apps we've seen, retrieving results from a variety of sources: TrueLocal, Eatability and Navteq. You can search for a general term such as "pizza" or "bars," or be more specific by searching for the exact name of a business or restaurant. Though it doesn't claim to cover every listed business in Australia, we didn't notice any glaring omissions during testing. The company behind Mocal, Yapp Mobile, has promised further content providers in the future.
Once you've searched and selected a result, Mocal for iPhone provides a number of options. You can call the business if a phone number is provided, view it on a map, add it to your favourites, or share it via e-mail or Facebook. Like Google Maps, the Mocal maps are downloaded over the air and you can get driving or walking directions. Though reasonably detailed, the Mocal maps lack the polished look and feel of Google Maps, so we'd stick to the latter if you're just interested in general map browsing.
Not content with just offering search and directions, Mocal for iPhone also has fully fledged turn-by-turn navigation available. It's a subscription-based service that will cost $10 for 30 days, $50 for 12 months or $60 for three years. The maps are downloaded as required, so there is no need for ongoing map updates. This makes it significantly cheaper than the likes of TomTom, Navigon and Sygic iPhone navigation apps, even if it uses a small amount of data during operation. Yapp Mobile claims the app will use just 1.3MB of data on a two hour trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains. Once a map has been downloaded, it is stored on your phone until an updated map becomes available or until you clear the cached maps from the settings menu.
The Mocal navigation service is available free for 30 days when you download the app, so you can try before you buy. This is a good thing, as it's a significant downgrade from most of the other Australia turn-by-turn apps for the iPhone. Though the maps themselves are easy enough to read, the navigation component feels poorly put together. Particularly annoying is the included English voice, which is not loud enough at full volume, has problems with Australian street name pronunciation and sounds choppy, with strange and lengthy pauses between many words.
The overall navigational experience is also quite poor in comparison to other iPhone GPS apps. Like most GPS units, the Mocal app favours main roads and has many instances of missed turn restrictions, and more than once we were routed to a destination that was at least a kilometre away from our target. There are also no safety alerts (such as red light cameras, speed cameras and school zones) or any of the other advanced features that seem to be creeping into iPhone navigation apps — advanced lane guidance, terrain views, speed limit warnings and 3D junction views. There is, however, a handy petrol prices listing (supplied by Motormouth), complete with a list of service stations along your selected route. The fuel prices are collected twice daily from Monday to Saturday, and once on Sundays.
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