iExit Interstate Guide app takes the guesswork out of pit stops

Consumer Reports News: May 18, 2012 11:08 AM

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iExit Interstate Exit Guide helps take the guesswork out of road trip pit stops, by identifying what restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and other services are available at each exit by name. Make a selection, and the smart-phone application gives the option of turn-by-turn directions or calling ahead to a business with one touch.

The app lets you search up to 100 exits ahead or even in another state for trip planning. It allows you to filter by categories and brands/company names, and even to search for campgrounds, diesel or alternative fuels. iExit even offers specialized information for RVers and truckers, including parking and where to find scales. And if all you're looking for is a quick break, it also lists rest areas.

This can add up to a real time saver, especially if you and yours are picky about your favorite road food when traveling. Because of its narrow focus, and limited navigation aid, iExit Interstate Exit Guide is best considered a travel tool in our app arsenal, rather then an all-purpose guide.

We noticed some minor differences between Android and iOS versions of the app, but both were easy to use and helpful. The upgraded iOS version adds more filtering and customization, while removing the banner-style ads found in the free versions. You can try the free version of the app if you're interested. If you use an Apple device and found the "lite" version useful, the upgrade is worthwhile.

What we like: iExit is easy to use, with simple menus. As long as it's turned on, it knows where you are and what's nearby. We found information to be reasonably current and complete, with some exceptions. But we've seen the same thing with GPS device point-of-interest information, or even road signs and friendly locals. iExit limits its selections to choices within a couple of miles of the highway, which can save time, but it might eliminate some favorite attractions. A map button gives the option of pinpointing selections on a map instead of a list.

What we don't like: Like so many apps, iExit can lead to distraction and is best used by a passenger or at a standstill, especially if venturing past the basic display. (The application says as much in the user agreement, displayed upon initial start-up.) Buttons and font sizes are small, and it would be dangerous for a driver to try to use behind the wheel. And they're not kidding by calling it iExit Interstate Guide. If you're looking for guidance on a parkway, lesser four-lane road, or anything that isn't part of the Interstate system, you're out of luck. Google is the default navigation app for turn-by-turn directions, and that functionality is not available to iPhone users.

What could be improved: Voice control would be helpful. Larger icons would also be nice. Some of us experienced frequent system crashes using the app.

Compatibility: A "lite" version of iExit Guide is free for Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad), and the full version is currently $.99 for iOS.

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Jim Travers

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