Developer: Navigon AG
Price: $89.99
Version Reviewed: 1.2

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Experience Rating: ★★★★☆
Detail and Accuracy Rating: ★★★★½
Functionality Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Updated 12/29/2009 for Version 1.4 – Rating updated from 80/100 to 88/100

Navigon have released 2 big updates since our review of version 1.2. These changes have propelled MobileNavigator to our favorite GPS application for the iPhone. A list of the biggest new features include Google Local Search and integrated traffic info. More new features are listed below.

– NAVIGON Traffic Live in US, CAN (In App Purchase – $24.99/year)
– Extended map area search after destination input
– Launching the App in landscape mode is possible now
– Enhanced Pedestrian Navigation
– Google Local Search
– Turn-by-Turn RouteList
– Manual zooming in 2D and 3D while navigation
– Favorites are being displayed in the map
– Country Info when crossing borders
– Phonebook contacts can be selected as interim destinations
– Using contact groups in the phonebook is now possible
– Faster start up time

Overall, some really great updates from Navigon. Obviously they are in this iPhone GPS app wars to win it. Highly recommended. Now, if they would just get rid of the click-through license on the app launch!

MobileNavigatorNA14Navigon is an on-board GPS application for the iPhone (3G and 3GS only)featuring maps for the US and Canada, with on-board meaning that all of the maps and routing information resides right on the device. There is no data connection needed for use. This also means that it’s rather large at 1.44 GB. That’s a big percentage of your storage space on your phone, especially so if you have an 8GB device.

Navigon goes above and beyond some of the other on-board GPS applications by adding full text-to-speech navigation (the app now speaks street names as well as navigation commands), social features (see friends locations on your map), Reality View (view complex interchanges on screen with arrows highlighting your route), and very nice iPod functionality.

Routing functionality is very good on MobileNavigator. You have the ability to add route points from points of interest, enter an address, recents, and favorites. You can edit the route list once you have added items in the typical iPhone list method, deleting points or changing them around. In addition you can have multiple points in your route. Many iPhone GPS application allow you only a start and a destination. The areas where routing is lacking in MobileNavigator are the contact integration and overview of a planned route.

For contacts, you can’t use them as waypoints in your route. These seems to me an obvious oversight and the most common way to use contacts. The only way to use contacts is to navigate directly to them. I’ve also found that MobileNavigator does a really horrible job of parsing addresses from my contacts. Only 1 in 10 addresses MobileNavigator was able to be parse the correct address from the contact.

Another way that routes could be a little better in MobileNavigator would be to provide a better overview of your route once you have created it. You can’t get a textual turn-by-turn overview of your route, you can only simulate your route. Simulating the route is rather slow and you can’t skip ahead. But a textual / graphical turn-by-turn overview of the route or the ability to skip turn by turn in the simulation would be useful.

RealityView (lane assist) in action

RealityView (lane assist) in action

One of the areas where MobileNavigator really shines is when you are actually using the GPS while travelling. With this latest release, Navigon have really integrated it well with the iPhone, allowing you to listen to music from your iPhone while traveling. This includes the ability to control what is playing from within it app. Plus, the music fades to the background temporarily when a voice instruction comes up.

This latest version also does text-to-speech for street names. In my tests it has done a fairly good job of the conversion and comes up with a completely understandable reading. Though some times the pronunciation is off, that’s to be expected for any text-to-speech conversion.

MobileNavigator is easy to look at and interact with while driving, quick single touches allow most functions you’d need while driving.

One useful feature is the lane assist function that MobileNavigator calls RealityView. This shows you the lanes and the lane you need to be in with arrows. Very useful when you come up to complex interchanges.

Navigon have recently announced that they are preparing to release a windshield mounted iPhone holder specifically for use with MobileNavigator. This is a simple non-electronic holder that just provides a way to hold your iPhone in your windshield while viewing the screen. While this doesn’t seem to be as full-featured of a device as the one announced by TomTom, that also means it will likely be much cheaper.

While there are some features I’d love to see added and some of the user interface I’d like to see improved in MobileNavigator, right now Navigon have shown the greatest commitment to the iPhone from any of the GPS application developers. They have, since release, already improved their application considerably and released 2 updates to add new and most requested features. All in all, it is a really good GPS app that just needs a few tweaks to make it the clear leader.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Navigation, Reviews

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