App Review: Navigon MobileNavigator North America for iPhone

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(Navigon Mobile Navigator for iPhone Forum Review by cjvitek For more Forum Reviews, see the TiPb iPhone App Store Forum Review Index!)

MobileNavigator North America [$69.99 - iTunes link], by Navigon, is the second GPS TBT app I examined. This one requires you to download all the maps in advance (1.5 GB for the US version, 1.67 for the European version) so make sure you have space on your iPhone. The advantage of this is that you can get GPS directions even if you do not have an AT&T signal. In addition, the actual “routing” process seems a little faster since it is not downloading directions OTA.

The map interface is very clean and flows very well, clearly showing direction and the upcoming street name. Unfortunately since the app doesn’t read the street name, you need to continually look at the app to see where to turn in areas when there are lots of streets next to each other. One nice feature is you can see POI on the map itself – not just a little dot or something, but an actual icon for the POI. When driving by a McDonalds, you can see the golden arches on the map. If the POI doesn’t have an logo, it just shows a general icon (gas station, food, etc).

To create a route, you can choose a variety of options in the route profile. These include fastest route, optimum (I believe for driving in cities), shortest, and scenic. You can also choose type of vehicle (including pedestrial), allow/avoid highways, toll roads, ferries, resident only streets, and HOV lates. I like the inclusion of a scenic route, although I am not sure the parameters. Will it take you ½ hour out of the way to see a nice waterfall? What about an hour?

Creating a route is very easy. The app has large buttons to press, and takes you through the step by step process (first state, then city, then street, etc). You can also choose to “take me home” where it will take you to your programmed home destination. At the bottom you can choose to select recent location, search your contacts, or select a favorite location.

Unfortunately you can’t specify roads that you prefer or want to avoid (like if you want to go a specific route, or travel by a specific town). In addition, sometimes the route choices seem…well…preposterous. When driving home yesterday, at one point the optimum route told me a certain way to go and get home by 8:07pm. The “shortest” route told me a similar route and got home by 8:08pm. The “fastest route” had me going to Corpus Christi, back down on a highway, and then backtracking – and getting home at 8:56pm. It made absolutely no sense what so ever.

When starting on the trip, I found the ETA to be generally reasonably accurate. An 11 hour, 630 mile trip was predicted initially as 12 hours. When looking at the map, you can tap the screen to see an overhead view, and also get a map summary. Unfortunately, there is no way to get a turn by turn summary of the whole trip.

Within the trip you have a lot of options. You have a speed option. The app comes with speed limits built in, which were accurate at least 90% of the time. You can program if you want the app to warn you if you are speeding (5 mph over, 10mph over, etc). Obviously you can’t rely on it, but it is a nice feature to have. In addition, you have the option of creating interim destination – basically a multi stop trip. This is one way to finagle choosing a specific route – just choose a city as an interim destination that is on the road you want to take! The app then tracks both trips, in terms of ETA and miles to go. You can also add a POI along the route (although I am not sure how far “off route” it searches – ½ mile? 1 mile?). You have a night map option and can also change your route profile (fastest to scenic, for example).

Searching for POIs is easy as well. First choose the location (nearby, a specific city, or statewide). You can preprogram three “auto” categories for quick searches as well – I chose gas, hotels, and food. Like other apps, you can’t define your search radius for “nearby”, but it looks to be about 5 miles or so. The POI library is somewhat lacking, however. While I can understand it for some out of the way hotels, there were some times that a McDonalds (or something similar) was mislabeled on the maps or couldn’t be found with a POI.

All in all, I found this to be a solid app, with lots of nice features added in. While the route choice was at times baffling, for the most part I had little to quibble about. The built in speeding warning is a nice feature to have, although you can’t rely on it because it is not always 100% accurate. The POI library was lacking somewhat, and I wasn’t really sure if I was missing some possible POIs along the way because of that. At $69 (on sale, normally $99) the app is not expensive, but still cheaper in the long run than a monthly fee system. Four out of five stars.

Pros:

  • Easy POI lookup
  • Maps on device
  • Nice graphics and interface
  • Lots of options for customizing
  • Speed limit warnings!

Cons:

  • POI database is lacking
  • Doesn’t read street names
  • Some routes are wildly inaccurate

TiPb Review Rating

TiPb Forums Review: 4 Star App

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Reader comments

App Review: Navigon MobileNavigator North America for iPhone

33 Comments

I own this app. Its very good. I'd like the app to get a gps lock faster then it currently does. It takes sometime but overall its a good navigation application.

It sometimes has an issue acquiring a lock on a GPS signal- I think it gives up too early, and stays unnecessarily too long in "no signal" mode. I just replan thr route or whatever, and it always (in my experiecne so far) picks up the signal on the the second try. Hopefully they will fix this. Once locked, however, it's very good. It lost the signal once, for two or three seconds, out of a combined 5 or 6 hours of total use. I've seen it choose routs I wouldn't have chosen, but I can say the same about my TomTom. I really like the clean interface, and I think this is a great app to have. I would also give it 4 stars, but hopefgully they will update it. Which will be a pain in the neck when it happens, because you will need to free up almost 3 gigs to update it.

Couldn't you get a decent dedicated unit for around this price?
What happens when you receive a call?

I have this app and also like it. I have used it around town on routes I am familiar with. I agree with mist of the review. When installing, you must have 3gb available for it to dowlnload and install. Once install is complete, it will only use the 1.5gb.
I also like that if gps is not available that it will allow you to view directions in simulation.
If you need gps now, get the app. If you do not, wait for a more expensive option.

I found this app to be visually very nice but feature-wise very lacking.
I was trying to plan a route FROM a destination other than my current location. This did not seem to be an option. And while it is nice to be able to use simulation-mode when you don't have a signal, it's would be nice to have that option when you DO have a signal, to actually look at a route in advance.
Navigon seems to be designed to work well on the fly, but is definitely streamlined to not include other features that wouldn't be used while actually ON a trip. The Sygic app, while less visually appealing, is a much more functional app.

In Australia they've used the cheapest possible map supplier. It was getting 1 or 2 stars on average, except for the occassional "best.app.ever" 5 star review clearly written by the developers!

Yeah, the fact that these GPS apps are coming to mobile handsets is amazing. But I guess I still don't understand the whole "iPhone GPS for driving" thing.
I can see how useful these apps would be when walking around unfamiliar big cities, or biking, or being someone's passenger, etc. But what if the GPS is closing in on an unknown crucial turn or exit just as a phone call comes in covering the map (and sound)? Plus, it just seems like it'd be a lot of trouble to mount and dismount every time you stop somewhere to use your device for other purposes. Many times I'll respond to texts and IMs when I stop at lights just to say "Driving now, talk later" (until it becomes illegal here to do even that). Do I tell everyone ahead of time not to call, text, or IM me because my GPS will be on because I have no idea where I'm going? Not only is texting dangerous while, but also messing with a GPS's screen.
As someone mentioned in another article, it seems like a lot more trouble than just buying a separate $180 GPS that operates independently, stays where it is, and leaves the iPhone free.

A couple questions for those that use this:
1) How fast does it recognize you are off course. In a city, where streets go by quickly, will it reroute me fast enough to useful?
2) Is there any indication about how often the maps will be updated and what the prices will be for map updates in the future?

@ traveler:
It rerouts immediately and without interruption, just ad well as my TomTom. As far as map updates, I read on their website that they haven't decided yet. I wouldn't be surprised if they want you to drop another $70 for the 2010 version though. Also, as an aside, I wouldn't buy this app as a replacement for a real GPS unit. It works great as an on-the-fly backup unit though.

As I said in the review, there are plusses and minuses. It reroutes very quickly, and phone calls are no problem. In response to Fastlane - we survived many years without phones or texting in the car - Often if I am driving I will just ignore it (unless it is a call from the wife or something). :)
This is a visually pleasing app, with some nice features, but lacking some features that a separate GPS unit will have. It also has a older POI database. MY goal is to have as few "devices" as possible, so I do want to find a GPS to use with the iPhone. This one has some plusses, as does AT&T Navigator, and they both have some minuses. Thus, the four out of five stars. If the were perfect, they would be five out of five. :)

@drob:
Do you live under a dome? Have excess pollution?
I own this app and think it is the best on the iPhone so far. A great replacement for my Garmin Nuvi

I'm still going to wait for the TomTom app/dock and hope for all of the features I enjoyed with my TomTom (spoken street names, trip planning etc.)

@Chris Vitek
Understood. I just didn't know if the notifications interfered with viewing the map or the sound.
Most GPS (if not all) have users agree to not use menus or buttons while driving before the map shows up. Seems to me, that with a device that does a lot of other things (like a iPhone) it would be difficult to ignore other things interrupting the GPS function, thus tempting drivers to touch it when they shouldn't be.
But like I said, these apps are amazing. I'd still buy one for non-driving purposes.

Iknowbetterthanthat on September 11, 2011 @iPhoneSmiles97O yeah? Everytime you have a wank your wntisag millions of lives.And if a girl is pregnant, but cant take care of the kid, then why no abortion? Or this, when a girl is raped, and pregnant because of that, would you still say no to abortion?

Why are we so impatient? 10 years ago we dreamed of having these devices available and now that they are here we can’t seem to be satisfied. Not every app is going to be perfect for every one in every situation. I gave this app 4 stars because I got tired of getting lost while using the map that came with the phone. I would not buy this app to replace a stand alone GPS. But if like me, you need occasional directions while out and about and do not want to carry and extra unit, this is the best choice so far.

I am waiting to see a comprehensive review on the iGo MyWay app. The user reviews look very very good - better than all other nav apps. The projected TomTom pricing at 200 bucks seems way to high. So if there is a solid review of the iGo MyWay (igomyway.com) I am leaning toward that app.

I reviewed this App in the AppStore. IT IS NOT WORTH THE PRICE. Go get G-map. Much better app and price.
This app has issues getting GPS connectivity. Look at the reviews. It is riddles with issues on this.
In my review I also found the highway signs to be confusing and at some areas, downright wrong! Now I can't talk for the rest of the country, But here in little ol, NYC, the highway signs are wrong for some exits. I give examples in the review.
You will be better served with G-map! TRUST ME. Or wait for Tom Tom to come out with their software (if you are willing to pay $200 for it).

I have this app and getting a phone call at a critical time is annoying (happened the first time I really needed it) but as was stated, the call can be ignored. I found that it's helpful to have a bluetooth speaker in use with the app, the sound is clearer and the need to undock the phone is removed. Overall, I like the app but, as Chris said it's not perfect and hopefully they fix some of the things that are missing.

I hear everyone saying a stand alone is a better option. Which I agree for longer road trips and such. But I travel for work a lot. I fly to a city, get a rental car, and drive to locations. Having one less device to bring along is a huge plus for me. I have been relying on the built in Google Maps so far. Which works, but everyone once in a while I miss a turn and I need to manually re-route. Also, not having updates is a little annoying. Igomyway looks better, but would like to see full review. Leaning toward it now.

I just spent the weekend in Austin TX using this app to navigate around town instead of my nuvi. If I were on a longer trip, I might prefer the larger screen of my nuvi but it was really nice to carry only my iPhone this weekend. This app works very well and I'd have no reluctance to trust the maps than I do the nuvi's. Recalculating the route is almost instantaneous and the sound was suprisingly loud. I totally enjoyed using it and recommend it highly...

@Matt:

... I fly to a city, get a rental car, and drive to locations. Having one less device to bring along is a huge plus for me...

Good point. I hadn't thought of that.

For those who are having trouble getting a GPS signal: try it outside the car once & see how it works. I've had plenty of problems with Speedometer & even google maps getting a location from inside cars (plural). Yes, I know to hold it near the windsheild to get a good signal (mine has t-tops, works much better with them out :) ). Sometimes it's the fault of being inside the car & not with the app.

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