I have to admit that I am a big fan of the AA – ever since they sent a massive lorry to transport our little camping trailer to our Peak District campsite, and the lovely lorry driver drove it through a farmyard and actually deposited the trailer at our pitch. It earned us a certain standing among our fellow campers and my four-year-old still gets excited when he sees an AA van.
So, when I found that the AA (which, incidentally, is also the nation’s top-selling road atlas provider) had launched a new AA Sat Nav app for the iPhone I was looking forward to trying it out. My first impression, however, was that it looked pretty much like the Co-Pilot app I already have on my iPhone (and which costs a quid or so less), albeit with an AA-branded skin on top.
The new app – entitled AA Sat Nav UK & Ireland – offers 3D map displays, lane indicator arrows and speed limit alerts as well as ‘safety camera’ warnings.
On the plus side, it’s really easy to use – determining whether you’re on foot, car, bike or motorbike can be done simply in settings or from an icon on the side of your map – which is very useful.
I was also rather excited about being able to find the nearest petrol station/tourist attractions and so on – really useful when you’re away from home and missing your internet connection – and as we often are in quite remote locations where you need to know where the next place to fill up on diesel is, I thought this would be a bonus.
But I found it a bit of a let down. My first two attempts, which I tried at home, pinpointed a petrol station five miles away, when I know our local garage is less than two miles – and the nearest church it could find was nearly five miles away (we can see the church tower from our front garden).
However, I had no quibbles with the actual routing and sat nav functions – in fact it got a gold star because I am forever directing lost delivery drivers who have got lost by their sat nav which can’t cope with the fact that the road through our village has one name if you turn left at the T-junction and another if you turn right, but the AA Sat Nav managed just fine – so a big thumbs-up for that.
However, what was really slow was the app’s ability to lock on to the GPS location. In my little village it took a couple of minutes – but in the middle of London’s Soho it really struggled.
I checked on the app’s site to make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong – checking my iPhone’s setting, and making sure I could see the sky – but it just seemed unable to hold on to a signal. For a penny under 27 quid that was rather disappointing.
The issue with locking on to the location in Central London aside, as a sat nav, the voice directions worked really well. I guess when a standalone sat-nav device costs around 90 quid it’s not a bad deal. But the extra facilities for finding local points of interest did not prove accurate enough for my liking.
The AA Sat Nav UK & Ireland app can be downloaded from the iTunes Store for £26.99.