Don’t Panic is one of the better names I’ve seen for a GPS navigation app. It’s not a cheap app, but neither is it any more expensive than some of the other premium on-road satnav apps. The UI is a little quirky, but generally speaking it does the job well.
The app comes in different editions, depending where you plan to drive. The North America edition costs $30, but I tested the Europe edition, which will set you back $90. Whichever one you buy, all the map data is downloaded and stored on your device (so make sure you have plenty of space – both of the editions mentioned require over 1.5 gigabytes).
The maps themselves are detailed enough for most journeys, and displayed clearly either as a ground-level 3D view, or a more traditional top-down 2D view. Two buttons on either side of the map provide zoom controls (on the right) and a selection of view options (on the left).
What’s frustrating, and ironic, is navigating the controls and menus of this navigation app. It takes a while to get accustomed to the way this app lays out controls and displays information. There’s a button bar permanently visible below the map view. The right-most button opens a screen of shortcuts for things like “Take me home” and the settings panel. You’ll be using these shortcuts often.
The next button to the left on the button bar changes, depending which screen you last accessed using the shortcuts. It took me a long time to understand that, but once I did, the controls began to make sense. For a while, it seemed like certain functions were simply disappearing – not so. The app is trying to be helpful here, and get you back to the controls you were using last. But having buttons that disappear and reappear is confusing to start with.
As for getting you from A to B: it does well. The app copes admirably with mistakes and missed turnings, instantly recalculating a new route and directing you accordingly. It comes with a variety of options, such as alerts for speed traps, a nice night display mode, dozens of languages, four speaking voices, and a store where you can buy extra maps.
As with all GPS apps, you need to watch your battery if navigating for any significant length of time. Regular travellers will need an adapter for keeping the phone charged inside the car.
Despite a few quirks, Don’t Panic is a decent navigator with a good selection of global maps.
Pro: Clear mapping, plenty of extras
Con: Not cheap. Controls unclear and require some navigating of their own.