AT&T Navigator and MobileNavigator Europe -- Turn-by-Turn Navigation Hits the iPhone App Store

AT&T Navigator

First push-Instant Messenger (IM) apps, now Turn-by-Turn Navigation? Can our long standing dreams finally become reality?

A few days ago we mentioned Gokivo + Yahoo! Maps had made it into the App Store. Now it's joined by:

AT&T Navigator [free - iTunes Link] provides an iPhone front end to AT&T's $9.99/month subscription service.

MobileNavigator Europe ($94.99 - iTunes link) features Reality View Pro, Lane Assistant Pro, Speed Assistant and Day & Night Mode component as well as the opportunity, to show POIs along the route. (See YouTube for the gist)

What's interesting from a user-perspective is the ranger of options we'll likely be seeing: either free or $0.99 up front and ongoing subscriptions, or more expensive up front (will $100 be the price point?) and no subscriptions -- though will we have to wonder about charges for updated maps eventually?

What's your preference?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 31 comments. Add yours.

Ron says:

I will pay $5/month for this, not $10/month.

shadofall says:

i'd be more inclined to pay more up front and no monthly fee. depending on what update costs might be. i have enough monthly bills for things i hardly use (looks at gym membership)

lagmefragme says:

shoot... just have the app and activate the service on the months you use it... anyone know if AT&T will prorate monthly service if you are traveling for the weekend and just want it activated friday thru sunday?

Tom says:

I would never pay a subscription fee. I would rather pay more up front especially since the Tom Tom comes with a car mount which is pretty important and also will have an integrated GPS antenna because no matter what anyone says I don't see the GPS on the iphone antenna as being quite accurate enough for good turn by turn. Also if you lose your 3g signal which happens alot these apps are useless

Umbel says:

@shadofall Hah! gym membership indeed.
To me this feels like something that should be included in a data plan. $10/mo makes sense for a traveling salesman, not for a guy who goes on a road trip once every few months. This makes the feature inaccessible to many if not most users.
Still, this is one of the most eagerly awaited apps out there. Good to see a solution.

Ron says:

Normally, I would not subscribe to software, but I know navigation software requires a background infrastructure to keep it current, which is why I would accept a small subscription fee (but not $10/month). AT&T will calculate that a suitable up-front charge to avoid the subscription would be north of $100.

Dyvim says:

I'm not inclined to give AT&T any more of my hard-earned cash than I already do. I'd rather pay a software house more up front (even if it ends up being the same for a year of ownership, i.e. $120) than add to my AT&T monthly bill. (I'm also disinclined towards shovelware like Gokivo Navigator.) I will wait to see what TomTom and others bring to market. There's always G-Map US East, which seems more reasonably priced (if not as full-featured). I'd rather have my maps loaded on the device so as not to have to rely upon a cell signal that may be weak or non-existant and which also tends to suck the battery dry in no time (some times GPS + 3G drains the battery faster than the car charger can charge it back!).

Peta says:

Well, I am just thrilled. What's another $10/mo. in the scheme of things? Sigh. I have been waiting for turn-by-turn directions on my iphone 3G since I got it!!

mystic says:

If I didn't already have turn by turn built into my car, I'd buy the Tom-Tom kit when it arrives.
For the occasional trip where I use a rental car, I'll probably just grab AT&T Navigator. 10 bucks is reasonable for occasional use. (You can cancel the subscription at any time.)

jsbull says:

AT&T service fees, TomTom hardware cost, waiting for Garmin to create an app that costs > $100...
Just like everything else, some brilliant independent developer will find a way to put a good one on the app store for $10.
I travel a good deal on business, but I'll wait for a cheaper option. Google Maps works well enough to hold me over.

melb_guy says:

I'm waiting for a turn by turn app which has no ongoing costs and uses freely available OpenStreetMap data. That would be sweet.

dloveprod says:

Are the first 30 days free like it says on att navigation web site?

cobra302 says:

i've used the att nav on my bold, and was waiting on its release for the 3G. i love this program and its features. as far as losing 3G signal and the program being useless, thats just not the case. if you lose your 3G coverage, you still have GPS, a satellite, which you wont lose. with my bold (havent tried with the iphone yet) if i lost the cell coverage, i would be notified, and the unit would operate off the gps, there was no stop in directions or anything. thats what impressed me most about this program. as well as the fact that i dont have to give up space on my device to preload maps, or pay for updated ones.

Dyvim says:

@Cobra302- you can't have it both ways: no preload maps AND it continues to work without cell coverage. Sure, if you momentarily lose 3G coverage then it's ok because the maps surrounding your current locale are in memory. But what happens when you're in a 30-mile stretch in the middle of nowhere? When what's currently in memory runs out, then you're hosed if you don't have maps preloaded in memory. Sure the GPS still works, but a little glowing dot in the middle of a blank screen doesn't help much. Anyway, with the new 32 GB model I have plenty of room for maps. Until something better comes along, the free Google Maps with the new orient to heading feature is good enough to get me there.

fassy says:

The most interesting thing is that Gokivo had to charge 99 cents up front so as to have in-app subscription purchases and not violate the "Free Apps Remain Free" mandate, whereas Apple approves a free app from AT&T that bills completely outside of the iTunes Store/Apple ecosystem by adding it to the monthly phone bill. Just a guess, but I bet Gokivo would jumped at the chance to offer subscriptions outside of iTMS (and the 30% cut), and would have avoided the majority of their 1-star reviews complaining about in-app purchases had they been able to do so.

d.allen says:

Am I missing something.. why are people saying when you run out of 3G coverage area, it won't work.. I used to have this on a blackberry also, and it ran very very well in just a 2G area.. and I have never, in Illinois, lost all service, unless I was in a building that had horrible reception for all carriers. I never have lost service on the road.

TosaDeac says:

The one thing I can say about the AT&T charge is that for once at least the iPhone is treated like any other phone since this is the same $9.99 monthly fee they charge for any other GPS capable phone they support.
That being said it does suck that you have to pay another $9.99 for turn by turn navigation when you have a built in Google Maps app that with the new digital compass of 3GS can give you essentially (but not exactly) the same thing.
I can't see AT&T prorating for a month, but at least you can use month to month which for me would make much more sense for my rare trips out of my comfort zone than $90+ up front to have it just sitting there collecting digital dust as I drive back in forth from work along the route I know by heart!
I also find it interesting that AT&T gets to charge outside of the in App model for this service. That will put other providers at an obvious disadvantage from a price standpoint especially since they are first out of the box (other than Gokivo which has gotten some negative first impressions).

Dyvim says:

@16- I meant loss of all cell coverage, not just switching down from 3G to EDGE. (But only real world reviews will tell whether EDGE service is sufficiently fast to power the iPhone AT&T Navigator app.) True, it doesn't happen in cities, but I've seen it happen in rural Florida and Pennsylvania. And I've had trouble using the built-in Maps application in areas with only 1 or 2 bar EDGE coverage because the maps can't load fast enough in order to show you where you are (AT&T Navigator may avoid this by being less data intensive than Maps).

d.allen says:

@dyvim, see that I can understand.. but it sounds like the loss of network is very small, especially around places many are traveling.. although some road trip for fun.. most have a destination in mind, and usually thats a city(obviously not all the time).. I just think the harping on this service is unjustified, if people haven't used it yet.. but like you said, time/customers will tell if it works well on the iphone or not.

e.c. says:

"GPS service" subscription fees are the biggest racket out there. What exactly are we getting for $10 a month? GPS satelites are free to use, and you already paid for your phone + GPS hardware. You go to any WallMart or Target and buy a Garmin or TomTom, and you will have everything you need out of the box. To have the same functionalty on a phone, you have to give up a portion of your monthly income. Ridiculous.

Peta says:

@e.c. Yes, but I hate putting GPS in my car and disconnecting it every time I park it. Also, I need voice prompts since I do most of my driving alone. I can squander $10 a day easily on nothing at all, so once a month is not such a big deal. Especially if you can unsubscribe at any time.

icebike says:

@20:
Yes, GPS is free to use.
That is not what is being discussed.
GPS without ACCURATE, CURRENT maps is of very little use when driving around.
Other than that I agree, a TomTom or Garmin is a better idea all around. It has the maps onboard, and is not bothered by weak or non-existent cell service.
The annual update fee for Maps for your GARMIN is about $75/year, or a one time fee of $124 lifetime for as long as you own the device.
And most have a battery good for 7 hours if you want to take it hiking. Try that with your iPhone. In GPRS or EDGE areas, unless you have maps on the device you are screwed. MobileNavigator has on board maps, don't know about the others.
Either of these apps are a good solution for occasional use, as long as you STAY IN 3G land, and don't make many calls while driving. (City users only).

e.c. says:

@ 23
I still maintain that the monthly subscription isn't really getting you anything.
In 10 years since I've used car GPS devices, I've never updated my maps. And I've never run into a situation where my GPS didn't know what to do. How often are new roads constructed that you will need a monthly subscription to get new maps? In event that you happen to run into a road that your GPS doesn't recognize, you will most likely be able to get by through the awesome power of automatic route recalculation. In my opinion, maps update is hardly worth a commitment to another monthly income drain.
Just my 2c.

brynn says:

lol ATT subscribers are ok with paying another addtional fees...they got ya'lll brainwashed !!!!! never over pay them for marginal cell phone coverage

nick says:

been using it for a couple days and will say i love it. i love when that sexy lady asks me to "bear left".
overall it really killed all other phones that have navigator. the big screen makes it work the 10 and the ease of use is uncanny

earless puppy says:

This should be allowed as a background app or any GPS Navigation software... The premise is it will be plugged in while using it, so the battery drain will not matter... but also the $10 a month is steep, I would like to see a model where you buy the states you would care to own... Maybe $10 or $15 bucks a state, with yearly state updates if you choose.... That would be fair and I would probally start off with 3 states giving them $30-$45 dollars plus an initial $10 app fee... This would be a smart model...
3 months down the road many people may by a extra state or two if needed... The farther you travel the more you pay basically... Can I copyright this? haha

Eric Atkins says:

I know a carrier that offers free turn-by-turn GPS spoken directions. It doesn't cost extra or a monthly fee.
I pay $130 a month for unlimited everything. (Now if we only had good phones.)
I'm considering getting an iPhone, but this monthly fee isn't going to get my business.

Tunnelrunner says:

For those wondering, I've tried this in downtown Chicago and suburbs using EDGE and it works fine without any problems.

Nick says:

What's with all the American bias here? Australia has had a flat-fee turn by turn nav program called Sygic for ages (also available for Asia Pacific). No one seems to ever mention Australia here despite we have the fastest telco in the world (Telstra) and FIVE carriers selling the 3GS. In addition, all iPhones come from Apple unlocked! TAKE THAT AMERICA

Randal L. Schwartz says:

LukeW - Give http://itunes.com/app/roadee a try… $2 for spoken turn-by-turn instructions using OpenStreetMap (the wikipedia of maps). Yeah, coverage varies for OSM, but if you don’t like it, you can always make it better. :)

Gabriel Atienza says:

I have been paying it without even noticing it. Just by using google maps was enough to activate the service with my iphone. The worst part if you don't carefully check the bill you don't notice. They should at least warn you.