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Old 06-19-2021, 06:12 PM   #1
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Apple CarPlay or Stand alone GPS?

Does anyone use their Apple or Android phones connected to their in-dash radios as navigation, as opposed to a stand alone GPS unit? I know there are some nice RV GPS units out there. I would imagine if you’re somewhere that doesn’t have cell service, you’re out of luck.
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Old 06-19-2021, 06:55 PM   #2
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Many of us run a couple of smartphone apps and separate GPS at the same time.

The OEM GPS built into our RV and a number of standalone GPS devices let you add the height, weight, length, etc into the device and that helps keep you from going astray with roads you shouldn't be on. Apple Car Play and Android Auto do not offer that.

We program our built in GPS (Rand McNally) and I run Google Maps on my phone in an iPhone mount near by and my wife tends to use Apple Maps. When they conflict we discuss the differences and agree on which will be the one we follow no matter what the other's say.

Apple Car play isn't an option in our OEM system.
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Old 06-19-2021, 06:57 PM   #3
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Correct, you will be out of luck if no cell signal, so that means some personal thought may change the answer as to which suits you best.
Do you feel you will be near cities and always have cell service or do you tend to go where you avoid the city and maybe get down next to the lake and behind the hills?
For our use the cell phone is not a normal part of our trip except as we go through town and want to research the next few days, etc.
A stand alone GPS will almost always get the signal unless you are under the bridge. We do not like to stay on the highways where the cell service towers are located to get the most customers as they pass through, so hitting the small roads and finding there is no tower near totally turned us off from using the cell phone as a nav setup.
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Old 06-19-2021, 07:06 PM   #4
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For times when you don't have a cell signal for mapping, take a look at the maps.me application for phones and tablets. You download OSM maps to your device ahead of time and don't need an internet connection for mapping, routing, etc.

I find the interface kind of quirky, and it's not as polished as using something like Google Maps, but it works pretty well and we use it frequently when we don't have cell service.
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Old 06-19-2021, 09:05 PM   #5
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Here's what we typically use for navigation:

1. In-dash RV GPS (Rand McNally)
2. Waze or Google Maps on a cell phone or tablet (via phone hotspot) when we have cell service
3. Maps.me on a cell phone or tablet when we don't have cell service
4. Garmin automotive GPS as a back-up for all of the above

The Waze and Google Maps traffic features are very helpful. Our Garmin automotive unit has traffic but only in and around major metropolitan areas.

Garmin (and perhaps others?) does sell an RV GPS in a similar form factor to their automotive units.

Our 2016 Era's electronics package is underwhelming. Having Android Auto on our newest car, I really like it and wish the Era had it. We've pondered upgrading the RV electronics but it would be more money than we are willing to spend. If the in-dash unit bites the dust we'll have to decide how much we are willing to spend to replace it.
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Old 06-19-2021, 09:36 PM   #6
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The in-dash Rand McNally gps in our 19 Navion never worked reliably, even after getting a new chip from the company. We use a 6 year old Garmin and an iPhone to navigate. We drive most of our miles on the roads less travelled so one of them is usually always working, usually always the Garmin as nat’l parks, the desert and lots of big sky country don’t have cell coverage. Never met an RVer who relied solely on one or t’other.
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Old 06-19-2021, 09:43 PM   #7
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I used DeLorme's Street Atlas for years, however my 2014 version of the maps sometimes got me in trouble in larger cities where new interchanges were not on the map. (DeLorme was bought by Garmin and no longer issues updates)
After a bit of a learning curve, I'm beginning to like the RV Trip Wizard. I enjoy the trip planning phase of travel, and RVTW puts a lot of travel information in one place. After planning, the associated maps are downloaded to my iPad and phone. I use a WiFi iPad, and connect it to a DUAL Universal GPS Receiver.
Now I can get turn-by-turn directions without using data or concerns about a cell signal.
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Old 06-19-2021, 09:46 PM   #8
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We had a lot of issues with our in-dash Rand McNally unit (an Xite xsg2na unit). Some were traced to a faulty SD card. Replacing it cleared up some but not all of the issues.

I do think a GPS with RV functionality is important, particularly for things like weight limits and low bridge warnings. On several occasions it has warned us before we got into trouble.
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Old 06-20-2021, 12:28 AM   #9
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Garmin and apple car play

I use a rv garmin 770 and recently upgraded my infotainment system that has apple and android car play. Ran both on the last couple of trips and prefer the rv garmin as if I followed apple directions would have been directed through areas my rv wouldn’t easily fit. The garmin allowed us to program in our rv dimensions and uses that information when selecting your route.
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:48 AM   #10
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Thanks for all of the great suggestions. I’m going to check out the Garmin RV GPS on Amazon today. I like the idea of using both a stand alone GPS and the iPhone.
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Old 06-20-2021, 10:06 AM   #11
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Our 2021 View 24D is built on a 2019 Sprinter chassis with their MBUX system, which has built-in navigation plus support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

We usually use Google Maps with Android Auto for navigation. It has the best map display, using Google's satellite maps - better looking than the MBUX navigation map display.

One flaw of the Android Auto implementation on MBUX is that it doesn't use the entire display, leaving blank spaces on the left and right - while the MBUX navigation uses the entire display.

Since Google Maps relies on an internet connection and we recently spent 6 days in the Big Bend National Park area, which has poor or no cell phone service, I used the Google Maps feature that allows downloading of offline maps - so we still had map displays (even if it wasn't satellite maps) even if we were offline.

The MBUX navigation system uses offline maps stored on board. Before a long trip, I'll check the Mercedes Me website and if there are any map updates available, I'll load them onto a USB stick and then install them into MBUX before we leave.

While driving, my wife will often also run Google Maps or Waze on her phone, in parallel with what we are running on the MBUX display.

Unfortunately, Google Maps lacks two features that would be very useful for our RV.

First, it doesn't know the height of our vehicle - so it can't warn us about low bridges ahead. While this hasn't yet been an issue with our View (highest point is the WeBoost antenna mounted on the top of the ladder), it is a small concern when driving off major roads.

Second, it doesn't know that we only want "auto diesel" pumps. It has a "gas station" option to find gas stations along the route - but there isn't any way to tell if those stations have auto (not truck) diesel pumps. So we often will double check with the Gas Buddy app to determine which of the upcoming stations has diesel - and check the prices.

However... The MBUX system does know we are looking for diesel stations, and when offering upcoming fueling stops, it can list only those with diesel pumps.
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Old 06-20-2021, 10:26 AM   #12
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I checked on Amazon and there’s so many choices as usual. I’m leaning towards the Garmin 890. It got decent reviews and is midrange price wise.
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Old 06-21-2021, 12:12 AM   #13
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Looks like an updated model of my 770. The garmin 770 continues to serve us well, enjoy the various options within the software. The 890 also appears to have a bigger screen. Just verified both have free lifetime map updates.
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Old 06-21-2021, 01:42 PM   #14
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Thanks TWP. I just ordered it on Amazon.
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