Apple Car Play and Roaming

By | 16 November 2021

Several years ago I needed to download TomTom and I needed the latest map updates if I wanted to drive from Switzerland to England or from Switzerland to France, or to Spain. Thanks to roaming I now have a much broader choice.

TomTom was good in another era, when we had to pay roaming fees. We downloaded the relevant maps. We set off, and the GPS would guide us from A to B and that was that. I tried doing the same with Waze, hoping that the entire map would be downloaded when I set off, only to find that eventually I went off of the downloaded map and I had no more information due to a switch from Spanish to French roaming on a Swiss contract. I made it home, but it showed the limitation of roaming at the time.

Recently I drove from Switzerland to Spain, using roaming, but this time with 30 gigs of data on the current contract. I used just 200 megabytes, according to my recollection, with no issues. This was with Waze. Waze and Google maps are the same today, so I could just cut the middle app, and go straight for the behemoth. I can also play and experiment with Apple maps. They have had time to fix teething problems.

The issue that I have had with both TomTom and Waze is at night. Neither of these apps automatically switches to night mode. I couldn’t find that option. Driving at night, with a map in daylight mode is inconvenient. This is a good reason not to use both of the traditional apps, and move towards Apple Maps and Google Maps. Both have plenty of settings to make navigation less distracting.

I want to support TomTom Go because it is 12 CHF per year, and it’s European, but I can’t find a way to pay them directly, rather than going through Apple so I may drop them when the contract runs out. As to Waze, I lost interest the moment it was bought by Google, since it meant that we were helping a wealthy behemoth, rather than a small startup.

I have been playing with GPS since I was a child, but initially I was using hiking GPSs with no proper display. I then played with car GPS before moving on to mobile phones, and since a few weeks I have been playing with in-built GPS. I find the in-built GPS experience is easy, and I like that the passenger, I haven’t had a passenger, since we’re in a pandemic, can set up the routing options from the comfort of the phone. Concurrently, I can set off the nav system from my home, and then walk down, plug in the phone, and then use it for navigation, from A to B.

Back in the day I sometimes printed out instructions, to navigate… things have really changed since then. When you’re used to GPS apps navigation is simple. Now to play with two new apps, and see how they compare to the two apps I have prioritised, until now.

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