1. cjvitek's Avatar
    Well, looking over the reviews in the forum, I see that I have been slacking off a little recently. So I decided to do a comparison review of two of the newer GPS turn-by-turn apps AT&T Navigation and Navigon Mobile Navigator. In the interest of full disclosure, I have received a promotional code for each of these. There have been a few reviews posted of each, but I wanted to add my $.02. I will be awaiting TomTom and any other GPS apps to review as well.

    Below I will post an individual review for each of the apps, then the fourth post will be a direct comparison. For both applications, I tested them for about a week with routine, in-town stuff as well as one long distance trip (the same trip for both apps).
    07-30-2009 02:08 PM
  2. cjvitek's Avatar
    AT&T Navigator, by Telenav/AT&T
    Free ($10 monthly subscription), ****


    Pros:
    • Solid library of POIs
    • Street names read out loud
    • Includes traffic updates
    • Great trip overview options



    Cons:
    • Needs an AT&T signal
    • Searching outside of local area can be cumbersome
    • No contacts integration


    AT&T Navigator is the AT&T branded version of Telenav, GPS Turn-By-Turn software provided by AT&T. It is free to download, but requires a $10 monthly subscription paid through your AT&T bill. It also provides maps OTA (over-the-air), downloading any maps and data as needed through the AT&T network. This is both beneficial (takes up less space on the iPhone) and detrimental (cant use if you have no signal).

    In general, the app provided solid directions. For the local stuff, it generally gave the same directions that I have learned over time to use. For the long distance route, it gave me a path that someone else had recommended but was different from the Google Maps suggested route. When creating a route, you can either choose a destination to drive to (based on recent locations, address, find a business, airport, etc), or you can search for a POI. Searching for a POI on interest is a little cumbersome. First you choose the category, then the sub category (no problem so far). It then begins the search. The cumbersome issue is if you want to change the search parameters (change from nearby to a specific town). Before the search finishes, you need to tap the where option, and choose current location, recent places, address, etc. The cumbersome aspect is that the search begins even if you dont want to search your current area. In addition, you cant define the current area, so I am not sure if you are searching a 5 mile radius or a 30 mile radius (probably closer to the latter than the former). When searching for a nearby gas station once, I got no results found even though I knew there was one 30 miles away. I wanted to know if there was one closer (since I was almost on empty) and the search POI didnt help at all.

    Unfortunately, there is no contact integration for directions. You can cut and paste an address from your contact book, but it will require some additional work on your part. From what I hear, contact integration is going to be included shortly.

    As for the routes, I generally had no problem with them. One really nice feature is that it reads the street name, so I dont need to look at the app to determine what street is my turn. I had some small quibbles about the actual route choices in some cases (in one case, I got off the highway, drove about 20 miles in little back roads at 20 mph, including one dirt road with chickens on itthen got back on the 70mph highway I had just recently left). There are no options to include an interim stop, or to show a preference to avoid (or drive on) a specific road. You can choose the general (fastest, traffic optimized, shortest) for route type, but can also choose to prefer highways or streets. When creating a route, it checks the traffic. This is great for short trips, but I am not sure if it continually checks traffic (which would make more sense for longer trips).

    After the route is created, there are great options for an overview of your trip. You can get a route summary (turn by turn) or a map summary (showing the whole route). This is great just to look over what you are doing, or if you want to see what the next three turns are going to be (if you like to look ahead, like I do).

    One side note with a pet peeve. Why is it that when I get directions for a return route, I dont simply get my directions in reverse? One would think that is I had the fastest route going one way then the reverse would be the fastest to get back!

    The time estimates were generally spot on for short trips, but got more and more off base for longer trips. For my long excursion (630 miles) it had initially predicted 16 or 17 hours, when in reality it took about 11 hours. As I got closer, I found exiting the app and the restarting (and re-routing the directions) increased the accuracy (when I was about 60 miles away, it still said it would take three hours. I exited, started again, and then it said 1.2 hours). Speaking on exiting, because the app is OTA, if you exit you need to re-download the maps. There is no ability to cache or save directions once they have been created. In addition, when I exited and went back it, sometimes it would ask me if I wanted to resume the previous trip (still downloading new maps) and sometimes it would simply forget that I was in the middle of a trip. Not sure why.

    The POI library was very strong (although it still didnt find the Brownsville Zoo, even when I was 1 mile away!). It had a wide variety of hits when searching for any given POI, and this was a solid plus for the app. Even in an out of the area location like Terlingua, TX, it had a reasonable list of hotel accommodations (all three of them) and eating locations. My biggest issue with the POI is that you cant define a search radius, but this seems to be common on most apps.

    All in all this is a solid TBT GPS app. It provides accurate maps and a great library of POIs, and it picked up a GPS signal very quickly. The biggest issues I had were the occasional route choice and what to do if I didnt have an AT&T signal. Lack of contact integration is a big minus IMO, but it makes up for that slightly by including traffic and reading the street names. If you dont mind a monthly subscription, and live in an area where you dont need to worry about an AT&T signal, this app would probably suit your needs perfectly. Four out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.
    07-30-2009 02:12 PM
  3. cjvitek's Avatar
    Mobile Navigator, by Navigon
    $69 (US Version, normally $99), $139 (European version), ****


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


    Cons:
    • POI database is lacking
    • Doesnt read street names
    • Some routes are wildly inaccurate


    Mobile Navigator, 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 doesnt 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 doesnt 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 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 cant 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 seemwellpreposterous. 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 cant 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 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 cant 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 couldnt 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 cant rely on it because it is not always 100% accurate. The POI library was lacking somewhat, and I wasnt 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.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.
    07-30-2009 02:14 PM
  4. cjvitek's Avatar
    Head to head comparison. Here I compare some features of the two apps, and decide which one is better.

    POI: In terms of searching for POIs, finding them along your route, or seeing them on your map, I found the Navigon app much better. However, AT&T Navigator had a must more robust POI database, and wins this category because of that. Winner: AT&T Navigator

    Routes/Maps: Both apps generally came up with reasonable routes, and both apps occasionally had their faults (driving an extra hour with the fastest route for Navigon, and making me get off the highway to sightsee on some dirt roads with AT&T Navigator). I generally found the ability to enter an address easier on the Navigon app, and the integration of the contacts makes Navigon win this category. I will say that AT&T Navigator included airports as a destination, which was nice. Winner: Navigon

    Interface: The Navigon app had an easier interface to use, with larger buttons and what was (to me) more clearly labeled options. In addition, I generally found the Navigon maps easier to read (especially with the POIs indicated on the maps). Winner: Navigon

    Extra Features: Both apps had some extra features. AT&T Navigator included traffic warnings, and read the street names. Navigon allows for interim destinations, and included speed limit warnings. Neither app was the clear winner with extra features. Winner: Tie.

    I recommend: In general, I preferred Navigon, although I wish each app had some of the features of the other one. I generally dislike a monthly pricing scheme. That, combined with the fact that AT&T Navigator was over the-air makes me choose Navigon. Ultimately, however, both apps were very good, and your choice should come down to preference. If you dont mind an monthly bill and live in an area with a solid AT&T signal, the robust POI library and traffic features of AT&T Navigator may be a deciding factor. On the other hand, if you want your maps on device and want a one-time fee, Navigon may win you over with the speed limit warnings and user interface. Either way you cant really go wrong.

    So lets bring on TomTom!
    07-30-2009 02:14 PM
  5. subie09lega's Avatar
    I've had the Navigon app for about a week and have found it to be good and bad.
    It is rather easy to use (though I would like to have a user manual so I can be aware of all the features - am I missing this?) and the interface is clean and intuitive.
    It is quick to reroute if a turn is missed but, for instance, yesterday I turned onto a street to avoid a traffic signal on the route it picked, it didn't seem to have the street in its database and it looked like I was driving in a field. This was not a new street and it should have been in the DB. It eventually got back on track and rerouted.
    Sometimes, it can't figure out a street. My parents have lived in the same house for forty years but it won't recognize it when I type it in. It's on a grid address system and it recognizes the East streets but not the West streets. Very quirky.
    The contacts integration is quite flaky. It often doesn't recognize the address when I try to select them that way and then displays some wild variations (and some that are not even close). So I type in the address manually and when it finds it, it looks exactly like I have it entered in Contacts.
    The POIs can be really outdated and there are some times that it takes a bit of time to acquire the GPS signal.
    I like the night view option as it's not so bright. I hope they add the feature to read the street names rather than just "turn left, turn right", etc.
    I also like the fact that it's not a monthly subscription fee app and that all the maps are on the phone so if the signal is weak or nonexistent I don't have to worry about the maps not loading (had that problem with Google maps recently). However, I haven't seen that they've posted anywhere what the price of updated maps will be. All they have posted right now is the cryptic "At the moment, the software has the newest NAVTEQ maps available. Questions concerning map updates will be answered at a later time."
    Overall, I can live with the quirks of the program but I've yet to take this on a long distance trip so until then I'm happy with it and hope that FREE updates will fix some of the problems.
    07-30-2009 05:50 PM
  6. cjvitek's Avatar
    Yes, it was quick to reroute, but occasionally slow to get a GPS signal. While I saw that contacts were integrated, I did actually try to input them as a destination.

    Chris
    07-30-2009 06:37 PM
  7. cobra302's Avatar
    i've got the att telenav, and i havent been able to extensively use it, but i did also have this app on my bold. i went on a trip, and even when i lost an att signal, the app still worked. some of the functionality was gone, but the app still knew where i was at on the map. i attributed this to the fact that it was using my gps location with a satellite and not the actual att signal. it would chime when i lost signal, and the map would change, but it still gave the directions. does this version for the iphone not do that?
    07-30-2009 08:32 PM
  8. cjvitek's Avatar
    Yes, if you stay in the app, it will still work. However if you leave the app (say to start up the iPod or something) and start the app up again, you can't use the app.
    07-30-2009 09:06 PM
  9. cjvitek's Avatar
    Just topping these to go with the other GPS apps that were just reviewed.
    08-26-2009 04:48 PM
  10. cjvitek's Avatar
    Navigon has been updated. Updates include text to speech, automatic night mode, music playback. I think I read somewhere that traffic can now be purchased for $20 as well.
    09-23-2009 11:10 AM
  11. kingminus's Avatar
    I been using Telenav since it was first introduced to me on my blackberry. I havent tried it on the iphone as of yet but will start next month.
    09-23-2009 03:10 PM
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