The smartphone as navigator

October 30, 2009: 7:00 AM ET

New software transforms your phone into a GPS device – and a pretty good one, too

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Navigon's MobileNavigator app for the iPhone has features some standalone units lack. Photo: Navigon.

As my wife will tell you, I have a comically bad sense of direction. I once got lost driving home from the mall.

This makes me a prime candidate for a GPS device. I've used a few for brief stints, mostly on long road trips, but never got into the habit of using one for everyday errands. There are a couple of reasons for that. For one, it's a hassle to dig the thing out of the glove compartment. For another, entering an address on most of these things is a crazy-making experience.

My perspective changed recently, though, when I bought a new GPS unit for $70. Well, that's not exactly what happened. I actually downloaded a GPS-based iPhone (AAPL) app for $70.

Yes, 70. Seven-zero. I'll be the first to admit that it sounds crazy to pay that much for software that runs on a phone. The overwhelming majority of phone apps out there cost between 99 cents and $10. More

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