“How are we going to get there?” my girlfriend likes to ask when we are in the car, belting up for a long drive to yet another super ulu supper destination. For the last 7 years, I have been replying, “Don’t ask me, I just do whatever the GPS tells me!”
Indeed, GPS navigation apps are true blessings for drivers like me. I once spent 20 minutes wandering around the bowels of Raffles Place MRT station because I couldn’t tell which level and which platform to be at. (Confession: I am both colourblind and slightly dyslexic.)
In fact, GPS navigation is the only way I can get around on our island’s beautiful highways these days, without driving around in circles because I keep taking the wrong exits. The endless roadworks that result in U-turns varying from one month to the next don’t help out, either.
And if you are like me, the ability to do a postal code search is also a total boon: with many place names that sound so much alike, I once tried to drive to Rivervale Drive and wound up doing endless loops of Rivervale Crescent instead. (Hint: It’s just next to Rivervale Crescent.)
In short, GPS navigation has put paid to much of the frustration inherent in the local driving experience. But while GPS apps, standalone and in-car GPS devices have solved the primary difficulties of city navigation, they are by no means perfect.
In fact some aspects of GPS navigation have often created hilarious scenarios on the road, if by ‘hilarious’ I mean ‘hazardous’. Remember how in 2012, Apple was criticised for debuting Apple Maps – a “killer app” that drove users into lakes, airport runways and canyons?
They say you had to be there …
Galactio is local firm Quantum Inventions’ entrée into the local turn-by-turn-app fray, and promises to deliver users from the “twiple-thweat” of route errors, unreliable traffic reports and inadequate turn-by-turn directions.
Now available in both iOS and Android flavours, as well as a standalone device (the Galactio 8), Galactio is locally-developed, and an award-winning real-time traffic and connected navigation solution.
It delivers a simple, convenient, customisable, fully-integrated and hyper-localised experience (says Quantum Inventions), that addresses 5 common problems inherent in GPS navigation apps today:
The Galactio helps you keep your eyes on the road by letting you customise turn-by-turn voice directions by distance markers. You can choose to make the soothing female voice coax you into turns 150 meters before (about 3 lamp posts), or any combination of 300 (6 lamp posts), 500 (10), 1km (20), 2km (40) and 3km (50).
Plus, every so often, Galactio reminds you to “drive carefully”. At first I thought it was some kind of veiled commentary on my driving skills or lack thereof, but I gradually grew to appreciate the calming effect that even a simple vocal reminder can have.
By the way, that female voice happens to be Yasminne Cheng’s, a popular DJ familiar to those of us who enjoy listening to the radio during our drives. I met her last month at a media thing, but we didn’t have much to talk about, so our conversation ran into a dead end…
Now that I know she’s lent her voice to Galactio, I can tell her how bossy she is in the car if I meet her again. Conversation kickstarter!
With the many traffic rules and regulations that Singapore has, obviously more can be done.
For example, unlike other free navigation apps, Galactio is “intelligent navigation.” It notifies you when you are on a road with bus lanes, so you know to stay off them. It calculates routes based on the cheapest ERP-routes, not just routes with ERP gantries. It warns you about speed cameras AND tells you about red light cameras. It guides you to carparks with available spaces near your destination, which I’ll talk about in a moment. It shows a “as the crow flies” blue line to your destination from your car, at all times, so you can tell if you’re heading in the wrong direction.
It’ll also make you a delicious club sandwich, if you fancy being turned into smoked tuna and toasted pitta bread. My point is, it does a lot more than the other apps.
Rather ironically, it also depends on how enthusiastic they are about updating other users. I can’t imagine that many drivers can be bothered to update other road users on a lazy Sunday afternoon when stuck in a small jam on the way to the same old boring weekend destination.
Galactio on the other hand derives its traffic conditions by combining and processing data taken directly from official LTA traffic data, as well as multiple internal and external sources. And correct me if I’m wrong, but LTA works around the clock, even on weekends. It’s almost as if they are paid to do it!
So chalk 1 more point up to Galactio for rock-like traffic report reliability.
For example, before I installed Galactio, I used a separate app to check on carpark rates and real-time availability of parking spaces near my destination. I then chose a carpark and switched into the GPS app, keyed in the carpark and navigated there directly. This saved time spent queuing 20 minutes for a lot, only have it snatched away by an SUV-driving asshat while I’m reversing in.
I used yet another app for monitoring petrol prices, and yet one more still, for monitoring LTA traffic cameras at both Causeways on weekends. So that’s 4 apps I was juggling, to get the driving information I needed.
Now, remember, if you are on the road, switching apps can take your eyes off the road for several critical seconds. Remember point #1?
Galactio integrates all these driving apps into one. Swipe right, and you get a list of extra features, including petrol prices sorted by brand or grade, weather information, even prayer times and nearby mosque locations. There is also a real-time carpark rates and availability guide, which guides you to available parking near your destination. That’s possibly the cleverest trick in Galactio’s arsenal.
All this parking data is pulled directly from LTA and HDB servers, so you get the same information as the carpark owners do. Brilliant.
If you want a free app, that’ll require online maps. So you’ll have to turn on data, and keep it turned on for the entire trip, which eats into your data plan and increases battery consumption. But sometimes, you may be trying to conserve battery life for the rest of your day, so you’ll then have to decide which you value more: not being lost, or having enough battery left to tell your date you’ve arrived. Tough call.
Galactio has offline maps. It’s free to download and use. Its map updates are based on Singapore Land Authority updates, which means you get the same maps used by the government for planning and zoning.
All the reasons above make Galactio the deserving winner of premium space on my phone’s pitifully meagre 8.54gb of available storage. Plus, I can now uninstall 3 other apps, saving even more space.
Any basic navigation app today would include the following features:
With Galactio, you get all these features, and more. Here’s a shoutout to Google Maps: Galactio just raised your game.
But wait, there’s more.
Want to get more out of your navigation? Galactio has just launched an in-app game for Christmas.
Here’s how it works: there are 50 red and green lollipops sprinkled across Galactio’s map, at heritage sites, landmark buildings and tourist attractions. Every Galactio user (that’s you) has the same 50 lollipops. Drive through the location, and you’ll collect that lollipop. You can choose to redeem vouchers when you have 20 or 30 lollipops, or wait until you hit 50, for the biggest redemption.
You can also gain lollipops by opting to Detour when prompted through Galactio’s traffic avoidance routing. Each detour is equal to 1 lollipop, and offers you another way to earn 50 lollipops, even though you might have redeemed some. Cleverly, this also helps reduce congestion at the route originally chosen.
Find out more about how the game works! Download Galactio for your smartphone at the following links and discover what fully-integrated, hyper-localised GPS navigation is all about!