It is difficult to look twice at a navigation app when Google Maps and Navigation comes pre-installed on every Android device. Indeed it is even more difficult to pay for an alternative navigation app unless it offers a compelling feature. However, it appears that Wikitude (known for its popular Augmented Reality Browser) has hit upon a novel and useful feature that may just tempt users in the United States to cough up for a paid navigation app.


Wikitude Drive is the world's first mobile augmented reality navigation system which uses your device's camera to show you the road as you drive through it. The augmented reality cam view overlays addition information including turn-by-turn directions and other landmarks. Hence, there is no need to take your eyes of the road as the "road" is visible on your mobile device. But, at night and at complicated intersections it is also possible to switch to a 3D view which offers a more traditional sat-nav interface.

In addition to the augmented reality feature, the app also offers all the traditional sat-nav features including full turn-by-turn directions, voice commands, 3D map view and a pedestrian mode to navigate to your destination after you have parked your car. The US version of the app costs €9.99 (about $14), but there is a free trial available.

Wikitude Drive has already been released in Canada, Mexico, and in a number of European countries including Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, and Great Britain. Feedback for the Wikitude Drive apps in those other countries have not been overly favourable. While they do hold a 3 star rating on average, comments suggest that the app is buggy and prone to crashes. It is likely that such a 3D heavy app may not work very well on older phones.

While the app sounds great, there are undoubtedly going to be a number of issues. Firstly, having the camera and GPS running constantly is likely to consume more battery than a standard sat-nav. Secondly, safety is a major concern with sat-nav apps and more so in this case as it attempts to show the user the road as they are driving through it. Problems may arise should the camera freeze up. In fact I can envision an unfortunate situation where the user gets into an accident because of camera issues and then subsequently sues Wikitude for negligence. Finally, it is unclear whether having the road visible on your device is actually a benefit.

According to the Wikitude Drive Market page, the app is officially supported on the following devices: Nexus One, Samsung Galaxy S, HTC Desire, Sony Ericsson X8, Sony Ericsson X10, and Samsung Galaxy Tab. However, the app may work on other devices, except for the the HTC Wildfire which is not supported.

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Abhiroop Basu
Abhiroop Basu is an opinionated tech and digital media blogger. As a doe-eyed twenty-something he started his first blog TechComet to comment on anything tech-related that caught his omniscient eye. Since then he has blogged for Android Police, Make Tech Easier, and This Green Machine. In the real world, Abhiroop Basu is a resident of Singapore and the Editor of The Digit, a subsidiary of The Potato Productions Group.

  • Mike

    Well it looks nice. but i bet its a real battery drain.

  • DevilDogVIKING

    yeah, until the industry comes up with a better battery, most features on smartphones are just toys to play with every now and then. They're not something you could use in everyday life unless your plugged in.

  • judderman

    you're in a car with the phone charging. no problem.

    • Xcom923

      that's what I was thinking? I don't see how much of a battery drain matters inside a car.

    • jj14x

      Hopefully, it doesn't drain the battery faster than it charges... display +camera +GPS +3g/4g (and some folks might have pandora or other music streaming in the background)

    • Thomas

      I second that. If you complain about battery drain while sitting in a car, maybe you're too cheap to own a smart phone if you can't afford a car charger. Just sayin'...

  • Noel

    Google Navigation still rules, it is free and soon there will be a complete offline mode version.

    • wpfn

      +1 - Not to mention, do we really need more people looking at the phone while they are driving!?!

  • Edd

    If they can add a trail for the GB one I'll try/buy.

    As if I'll spend £9.99 on a Nav App with only a 15-minute refund window...

    *That's not a complaint on Wikitude, just a complaint on Google's rules, which has cost developers more than a handful of sales from myself.

  • Jackietreehorn

    Anyone know what restrictions/differences there are for the trial vs. full version, other than the metric ton of additional permissions for the trial (not sure I want to try it so much anymore after looking at those...)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/abhiroop-basu Abhiroop Basu

      Sorry doesn't seem to be indicated anywhere

  • Honu

    We are the last generation that will be able to read a map ... :-)
    Ps : I'm talking about mens, women already lose ... has never got this ability .. ;-)

  • Jake

    I tried out the trial.. and honestly.. don't like. I prefer traditional navigator! This would make it more confusing and loose focus of map.

  • RobertPhillips

    Tried for about a minute and then switched back to Telenav, which I will use until Google fully supports offline navigation.