In this article I explain the multiple issues I’ve had with Sygic that make me strongly recommend that people avoid it if at all possible. I actually wanted to post this as a review on Google’s app store but you can’t do that if you don’t have a Google+ account. Apparently having a Google App store account with both a credit card and mobile phone associated with it isn’t good enough. Well screw that! So I’m posting my review here.

Before Sygic I always had to drag along my old TomTom GPS on trips because we go places like Canada where we don’t have cell coverage and sometimes go out in the boonies in the US where cell coverage is spotty to non-existent. Yes, I know, Google Maps has offline support but only for 50 mile radius’s and only if you plan your trip carefully. I wanted something more robust than that. Besides, I really hate the idea of dumping all my data into the Googleplex and the fact that Google Maps uses Waze really turns me off since I think Waze encourages behavior that puts lives in danger.
So I did research and the consensus appeared to be that Sygic had the best GPS app for Android. I can’t say if that is right or wrong but I can say that Sygic, in my experience, really sucks. Here is a laundry list of issues I’ve had with it.

We’re There!!! Or… not.

On at least three occasions Sygic has spontaneously decided we were at the destination of our route when we were not. I remember when we were driving in Palm Springs and suddenly heard Sygic tell us we were at our destination when we were at least 20 minutes away. We were going 65 MPH on the freeway at the time and suddenly had no directions! We had to pull off and reset the software. The last time this happened was in Vancouver, Canada and were 200 km from home. I think Sygic has figured out they have an issue because this time when the unit suddenly decided we were in Seattle it seemed to figure out this couldn’t be right and so started to walk the entire route backwards (I could see this on the screen) before finally arriving back in Vancouver and starting to give us directions. I suspect this only worked because we were at a stop light when this all occurred. If we were moving I wonder what it would have done.

The location database has steered us (badly) wrong

Remember, the whole point of Sygic for us was to have something that works offline. So if we are going someplace we want to be able to use Sygic’s built in database of locations to find the address. Unfortunately their database of locations is, in my experience, wrong. When we were in Palm Springs it cost us an hour when it had a completely wrong location for our hotel (which has been there for many years) and sent us 30 minutes away so we had to drive back. Since then I’ve learned never to trust it but I have to admit that I do take a perverse pleasure in checking addresses against it and sure enough it has several times given wrong or old addresses.

The Traffic add on is just awful!

I paid extra (I know, stupid me) to get the Traffic service. It’s awful. First of all, in many cases, it just plain won’t load data. Even though I have a strong WiFi connection. Even though Google maps is gleefully coloring traffic data all over its maps. Sygic will just sit there with its traffic icon showing its loading circle and never loading anything. And when it does load something? Oy, it’s so bad it’s almost funny. It’s hilarious (in a gallows humor way since I paid for this) to see the traffic information it puts on the map vs Google’s. It misses major incidents, has very limited data and the resolution of the data is awful (e.g. it marks as problematic much larger or smaller areas than actually have a problem). I would suggest not wasting your money.

I DON’T LIVE IN NEBRASKA!

This is a bug that has made Sygic useless to me at home. I actually filed this bug with Sygic since it had a 100% repro. The bug is that for some reason Sygic has decided that when a street name includes the abbreviation NE (aka North East) it will read it as Nebraska. Now if you don’t live in Seattle I can imagine you might find this funny. But in Seattle almost all of our streets include a directional queue like NE or SE or whatever. So anytime we are in the north east area of Seattle every single street reads out with Nebraska! “You are on 10th street Nebraska”. It drives me batty!

Sygic support is awful!

I mentioned in the previous issue that I filed the Nebraska issue as a bug. I sent in the issue on 4/8/14. I got a response two days letter on 4/10/14 with the support person telling me he couldn’t repro. On 4/12/14 I responded back that I have a 100% repro and sent him the version number. He then disappeared until 6/3/14. Just… gone. The rep apologized for abandoning the issue (which still exists) for 2 months because of his high request load. Well, duh!

Conclusion

So what to do? In our case we still have our old TomTom so we can use that when we go to Canada and when we are driving places in the US with bad connectivity. But what if we didn’t have it? We can’t rely on Google Maps. It isn’t designed to really be used offline if you are going non-trivial distances. So one needs something. Given how awful Sygic is I can only recommend finding another software for Android (although the rest seem to have even worse reviews) or buying a hardware unit as a backup.