Sat nav speed test

We have been running a few tests of the Eloy app versus other apps as a benchmarking process and were pleasantly surprised by the time it took to set up a journey.
 
The test was created like this:
 
  1. I drove to a location in Buckinghamshire and then sequentially used 4 apps to plot a journey to a saved favourite location in Bethnal Green.
  2. I set a requirement that I would quickly monitor the route before hitting go
  3. The 4 apps used in the test were Eloy, Waze, Googlemaps and Apple Maps

This is a bit of a strange test as Eloy isn’t a map and navigation app. Instead, we have integrated MapBox into Eloy as a section called Drive. Eloy has more functionality including our car accident manager, parking, driver’s log and more.

The MapBox integration means that Eloy is reliant on a 3rd party API, which is excellent but another link in our process.
 
So how quickly do you think we could set up these journeys across the 4 apps?
 
The answer is pretty surprising.
 
In 4th place came Waze, in 19 seconds.
In 3rd place came Apple Maps, in 10 seconds
In 2nd place same Googlemaps, in 8 seconds
 
And substantially quicker in 1st place came Eloy, in 6 seconds.
 
I have recorded the tests and combined them in the video below.

Testing Eloy’s sat nav against 3 of the market-leading apps

Quick Summary of the test:

Waze struggled on 2 counts. Firstly, each time it had a long load time when plotting the route. This added a few extra seconds. It also needed additional steps to look at the route as by default it shows a different trip summary before you go, such as road works. We also noted that favourites were on a different page from the office button – which cost a second of time. Overall, Waze might have been penalised 3 to 5 seconds due to the design of the test but it would still come last. 

Apple maps really only struggled in one area – the load time for the route. 

Googlemaps included a few extra screens with more options – which made pushing the saved locations tab a little trickier too. It also plots the routes as part of the UX, which adds a fraction of time. 

Eloy does have areas of potential improvement. At present, the route doesn’t perfectly re-size to show the entire journey (work in progress) and having to get to sat nav via our app’s home screen is an extra step we could try to bypass. 

Does time matter?

Being the fastest app to launch navigation is a nice little victory but should we care? We realised there are two reasons this should matter:

  1. Having a fast set-up time should encourage more sat nav use. Whilst we may know the way to our favourite destinations, there is substantial value to the entire road network of sharing all planned routes as this can create a lot of smart solutions. Being quicker to set up navigation should help adoption – at least for those without voice control capability.
  2. Whilst we are 100% not suggesting this and vehemently state it is illegal, having the fastest load time is safer if drivers are using sat nav whilst driving. This is more valid for sat nav that can display on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is legal, and the 2 o 3 seconds we save may help improve road safety.


Bigger picture items where faster times would be advantageous include connected and autonomous services. For example, autonomous car hardware will not be connected to the cloud but decisions such as when 2 autonomous cars approach and compete for a single parking space are impacted. Those 2+ seconds give you a sneaky advantage at nabbing the parking spot.

So why is Eloy faster?

We keep a lot of peripheral non-driving actions out of the drive section – for example parking and. Drive is a sat nav map whereas Apple Maps and Googlemaps are more broadly used (for example by pedestrians). This allows us to have specific buttons that only relate to driving activities. 

We do question whether hosting on AWS helps – but we have no evidence to support or reject this yet. 

Eloy is a smaller app at 69MB whereas Waze and Googlemaps are over 200MB. Their excessive size could slow performance.

One final item that also helps – and in relation to Apple and Waze this is perhaps why they take much longer when loading routes – we have built our own proprietary persistence procedures and we have been a little creative in our database structure.

What have we done differently?

The persistence procedure mentioned above relates to how users authenticate themselves when presenting to our database – allowing us to pull out data potentially quicker than the other apps. Again, we need to verify this with more research. 

Our database structure has unique features too – for one we have split the database so more data can be held locally in a device instead of on our main cloud database. We originally put this in to cover for phone reception drop out but it appears to have given our app a slight performance uplift. For example, if the stored favourites’ coordinates are stored on the device, this is one less database query to run. You can go further by caching traffic and routes ahead of time for purposes of this test but other actions warrant greater interest for caching.

What’s next?

This test is obviously a little vague and not really a fair test. We can see that the 4 navigations have different journey times, so the actual calculation in graphing the routes may not be equal (although we expect this can be removed as a difference by pre-caching traffic and routes between the current location and stored favourites).

We have 2 other substantial tests in progress – notably around the speed and reliability to use voice to get an app outcome. As briefly mentioned above, being quicker at these actions in a connected and autonomous vehicle environment will have longer term user desire. 

We would really appreciate feedback. Do you also experience Eloy being faster once you have mastered how it works? Watch out for more coming soon, including sser guides at a more polished UX!

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