Navigon vs. Scout vs. TomTom: iPhone turn-by-turn navigation app shootout!
Garmin's Navigon, Telenav's Scout, and TomTom are all excellent GPS turn-by-turn navigation apps available for the iPhone, and all handle navigation, especially the bells and whistles surrounding it, differently. Since turn-by-turn GPS navigation apps are among the few that have maintained higher price points in the app store, so it's not financial viable to simply buy them all and figure out which one works best for you. That's where iMore comes in! We've loaded them up, driven around, and figured out who offers the best all-in-one maps and voice navigation package, and more importantly, which one is best for you!
Note: We will be using the U.S. versions of all three apps but all three have many different offerings across several countries.
Navigon vs. Scout vs. TomTom: Interface and ease of use
Navigon, now part of Garmin, has a standard interface and is exactly what you'd expect from a GPS app. Unlike previous versions, the maps aren't hard coded into the app any more (no more 1.5GB downloads.) Instead, upon launching the app for the first time, you're asked to download necessary files and the maps you'd like, including the option to download all maps. After all your initial files download you can start using the app.
To start navigation just tap the top left button on the main screen and choose from entering an address, searching for a point of interest, saved destinations, or home. Once you've found the destination you'd like to use just select it and you'll get an overview of the weather at the location and some other places close to your destination. Tapping the more tab allows you to save it as a favorite, view the route or add it to an existing trip, and send it to someone.
Tapping Start Navigation in the upper right-hand corner will show you the available routes. Select one and tap Start Navigation one more time to begin turn-by-turn navigation. Just start driving and voice will guide you. You can tap the most recent direction in the left bottom corner to repeat the current command. You can also tap the right top button to end navigation, see a list view of directions, and more.
Scout by Telenav approaches navigation a bit differently than traditional GPS apps. After downloading the app and launching it you're presented with a screen showing weather at your current location, a small map preview of where you are, a places section to browse points of interest, and quick toggles for home and work.
Tap on Places to start searching for destinations to navigate to. If you know the address of the place you'd like to go to, just type it in the search bar on the main page and you're off. If you're looking for a place, just search for it and select it. You'll see an overview of it's location on a map, the address, phone number, reviews, and more. Tap the address to start navigation to that location. You can either view traditional directions or use voice navigation.
After you start turn-by-turn navigation, Scout will start dictating directions. Tap the map once to bring up additional options such as music, traffic, and zoom in/out. The interface of Scout is great and extremely easy to use. There's nothing to learn or configure. Just open the app and start using it.
TomTom works almost identically to the way Navigon works but with a different interface. The main screen is a list view of options. Tapping into the Navigate To... tab will get you started on searching for a destination. You can program in a home address, add favorites, search an address, or search places.
TomTom search uses Google and also has Facebook integration. Using Facebook will show how many people like that destination or business. I'm not quite sure how useful this feature is and I think TomTom's time would have been better spent enhancing their interface and user experience. It feels quite dated and somewhat sluggish at times, especially when navigating. The maps are choppy and take time to catch up when driving.
Scout by Telenav has the best interface of all three apps and is also the easiest to use by a long shot.
Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Maps
Navigon no longer downloads all the maps to your iPhone by default but allows you to choose which maps you'd like to load. Some users may like this as it doesn't take up so much space on your iPhone. It manages to provide local support for maps in case you have bad or no coverage but doesn't eat up a ton of storage space.
One big problem I had with Navigon was the fact that their maps were already outdated after my initial download. There are several streets in my town in doesn't show that aren't exactly new (some are a year or so old). If I want updated maps, it's a $39.99 in-app purchase. Navigon has to license their maps, so I can understand that fee being passed on, but it seems like a user should at least get the latest copies when they first buy the app, and subsequent annual updates can be paid for. When I buy a navigation app I expect it to have up to date maps coverage.
Scout by Telenav doesn't seem to store any maps locally, and so depends on an internet connection in order to function properly. If you don't typically travel to places that have spotty coverage you should be fine with Scout, but may want to download an atlas or maps app to compliment it in the event you do get lost in an area with little service.
Scout also has the most attractive maps of the three apps, and I had no issues with it finding all the destinations I needed. The animations were smooth and the maps were accurate. Like Navigon, Telenav has to license their maps, and some reviewers on iTunes expressed issues with the maps being out of date. However, I didn't experience that in my area. If you're thinking about purchasing a subscription to Scout, download the app first and do some driving. Scout comes with a free 30 day trial so just make sure you give it a good test run before committing to a purchase.
TomTom stores all your maps locally. You'll have to be on Wi-Fi for the initial download as it comes in at over 1GB (for the U.S. version at least). Once you've downloaded the app you won't have to worry about an internet connection to use turn-by-turn directions.
Unfortunately TomTom also had the most issues when it came to actually navigating. Since all the maps are local, I'm not sure if it had issues with GPS, or something else wasn't working right, but it was very choppy overall. It would be nice to see an update issued to address the lag issues.
On the plus side, TomTom owns their own maps so they have an advantage when it comes to timely updates and general accuracy.
Overall, Navigon has the most versatile maps offering. Selective downloading of maps is a great way to save physical storage while still protecting against lost or spotty 3G reception. Scout's may look nicer, TomTom might be the most up-to-date, but Navigon is the best compromise.
Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Turn-by-turn navigation
Navigon's voice navigation works well and it's easy to repeat a step simply by tapping in the lower left hand corner. Traffic messages or speed limit warnings can also be enabled via Settings. Some features, however, require additional in-app purchases in order to use, such as live traffic or radar information.
Scout by Telenav's voice navigation works surprisingly well for a cheaper option, especially considering it performs all tasks remotely as opposed to storing maps locally. Tapping the upper left directional arrow will repeat the last direction.
TomTom was the most disappointing when it came to voice navigation due to the lag. Aside from the interface, that was the most frustrating part of using TomTom. I just felt like it either couldn't keep up or the map was struggling to load streets around and keep up with our position.
There was a few times we were getting ready to make a turn and the voice navigation had just caught up and told us to make a turn. If I wasn't familiar with the area I probably would have missed the turn as it wouldn't have told me soon enough. Sometimes TomTom would keep up perfectly fine for a while and then it would start to lag. My service coverage didn't change so I wasn't able to find a reasonable explanation for this.
TomTom does, however, offers the best voice options. You can purchase additional voices via an in-app purchase as well, including Simpsons characters.
Scout by Telenav has the smoothest experience when it comes to voice navigation but local maps integration in Navigon make it a bit snappier at times. Tie.
Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Additional features
Navigon, Scout by Telenav, and TomTom all carry almost the same feature set. For example, Navigon, Scout, and TomTom all support iPod controls in-app so you can control music without exiting navigation or closing the app. It isn't as obvious in Navigon though. You'll have to enable iPod controls in Settings before they'll start showing up on the Navigation screen.
Navigon offers several additional features on top of traditional turn-by-turn voice navigation such as panorama 3D views, radar info, and live traffic updates. However, almost all additional functionality requires an additional in-app purchase.
I did enjoy having the option to only download the maps I need in order to conserve physical storage limitations on my iPhone. Navigon was the only app of the three that gives you this option since TomTom downloads all of them as an initial download and Scout depends on an internet connection.
Scout by Telenav had the most useful features built right into the app. It will show you traffic info and a ton of information about places of interest directly in the app. You can even select Minimize All Delays when viewing traffic information to reroute based on traffic. A lot of other navigation apps require an additional purchase for this feature.
You can use Scout's scout.me beta site to set up routes and send links straight to your iPhone as well as explore new places to visit. It's a neat feature if you like to travel often. Scout also offers movie and weather information via the Extras tab. This is a nice addition and allows you to view movies, showtimes, and Rotten Tomatoes ratings directly within the app. This is a nice feature if you're not in your home area and aren't sure what theaters are around. No needs to look it up and map it, let Scout do it for you.
There isn't anything additional to purchase on top of the monthly or annual subscription fee. As long as you've got a subscription you'll get any features Telenav decides to put in the app. I've found Scout to be just as full-featured as any other navigation app I've used minus the ability to store maps locally. It gives the same speed limit and traffic incident warnings the more expensive apps give as well.
TomTom is feature packed but some features will come at a cost just like Navigon. TomTom also allows traffic updates but you'll have to subscribe to it as an in-app purchase. TomTom's traffic service also is recurring which may not be appealing to many users. It also allows you to set up alerts such as speed warnings like Navigon and Scout do.
The ability to buy additional, celebrity voices is something unique to TomTom and something some users will no doubt appreciate. That said, they could use a lot more voice options. Where's Darth Vader?
All three carry many of the same features, but we're giving a slight edge to TomTom for owning their own maps and making additional voices available.
Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Cost
Navigon prices will vary a based on what version you need. That's from $30 all the way up to $80. The U.S. version will run you $49.99 but if you find your maps to be outdated like I did, you may have to spend another $39.99 via in-app purchase for the FreshMaps update. Other in-app purchases range in cost from $4.99 for US speedcams to $9.99 for panorama view to $19.99 for traffic.
Scout by Telenav is free to download and comes with a 30 day free trial. After that you can either subscribe monthly or yearly. A monthly subscription will run you $2.99 while a yearly subscriptions will run you $9.99. It's the most reasonably priced app of the three, especially when you consider it doesn't charge you an additional fee for features like live traffic information. However -- and it's a HUGE however -- Scout is currently U.S. only, which means international readers can scratch it off their lists for now.
TomTom follows the same pricing structure as Navigon and will depend on what version you need. The U.S. version is priced at $36.99 while other versions can run as high as $120. In-app purchases range in price from $5.99 for voices like Homer or Mr. Burns, to $19.99 for a 12-month subscription to traffic HD.
Scout by Telenav is the most affordable choice.
Navigon vs. Scout by Telenav vs. TomTom: Conclusion
Navigon, Scout by Telenav, and TomTom are all good choices when it comes to iPhone voice navigation apps. In most cases, they're a lot better than their competition.
Navigon is best for those who want the security of on-board maps without the hassle of huge, up-front downloads or updates. They've got a ton of options as in-app purchases, and while those can add up, you can also pick and choose only the ones you want to keep costs down. If you want power and flexibility, Navigon is a great choice.
TomTom is the best choice for those who absolutely want all maps, all the time, and to have them as up-to-date as possible just as soon as possible. There aren't as many in-app options, but the one that stands out is celebrity voices. If you want that, you're going with TomTom.
Scout by Telenav is the best for people in the U.S. who want low up front costs, and want to save on storage by keeping map data online instead of on-board. Scout also provides all their premium services at no additional cost to their subscribers, and presents them in a much more appealing way than other navigation apps. While it may not be the best option for everyone it will be the best option for the majority.
Unless you're outside the U.S, or online maps are deal-breaker for you, Scout by Telenav is our current favorite turn-by-turn navigation app for iPhone.