One thing I don’t like about road trips is that even the mighty Google Maps have you playing exit roulette. When you do a search for gas or restaurants the results are based on distance rather than the nearest exit, thus there might be a gas station half a mile from your vehicle, but the next highway exit is 11 miles away! At some point, I used RoadAhead to solve this issue, but the results were less than stellar. If my memory serves me right, the app was clunky and unreliable.
I decided to give RoadAhead another try after a search for reviews of similar apps did not return any clear leader in this category.
The app has not changed much since I last used it a couple of years ago. The last update was on August, 6 of this year. Aesthetically the app won’t win any awards, but usability wise, I found it has improved.
As you can see there are 4 buttons at the bottom: Exits, Categories, Filter and Social (I think this is new, at least for me)
Let’s take a quick tour of each of these buttons.
Exits is the heart and soul of this app. You can select the highway, and make plans before you get on it. You can also tap to see what’s around you and look at different exits.
Categories gives you access to almost anything you might need on the road! There is a total of 28 categories from ATM to Worship. This is in a way similar to the classic GPS offerings.
Filter allows you to be very selective about your results. You can be as specific as you wish.
Social is not really about you, but rather RoadAhead’s social efforts. I initially thought you could share your route or get some kind of social input into your options, but as I pointed out this is a request to follow and like the app on social media outlets.
The information this app offers is quite useful and it should be integrated into the leading map apps. It would make sense for this information to be neatly incorporated into those navigation apps rather than having to leave such apps to try to find this information. During my last road trip this app earned its right to stay on my phone during road trips.
The truth is Apple’s Maps and the competition should be smarter. For instance, why can’t they estimate when I will need gas and suggest nearby gas stations? Personally, I would be willing to enter my car model and typical gas consumption at the beginning of my road trip. I would also enter my favorite restaurants and the app could suggest or alert me to the fact that such restaurant is on x or y exit.