Navigon AG's MobileNavigator Lost Me There for a While

NAVIGON North America (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
NAVIGON North America
Developer: Garmin Wuerzburg GmbH
Price: $59.99 Download on the App Store

TomTom Navigon MobileNavigator GPSNavigon MobileNavigator - One of the big deals about Apple’s iPhone 3G and 3GS iPhones are their built-in GPS. With the right app, any 3G flavor can become a fully-featured GPS unit. Make the app cheap enough, and the iPhone as a way-finder becomes a better option than the real thing.

Unfortunately, for some of us cash-poor types, the steep price for top-of-the-line GPS apps from Navigon and TomTom is a bit hard to swallow, especially since you can buy the real thing for close to the same dough.

In the interest of fair disclosure, I prevailed upon Navigon to give me a review copy. Otherwise, I would have probably bought a Garmin Nuvi GPS or something similar for about $125.

So, what I finally discovered is that the iPhone 3G and above make very good GPS units. All the right features are there: intuitive interface, portrait and landscape modes, speed and signpost display and all the other features you would want. The difference is the iPhone does the work of both without the additional cost or hassle.

Audible turn-by-turn and text-to-speech are requirements for any GPS in my book  and MobileNavigator has them. One thing I don't need (and you don't either) is having to keep an eye on the map displayed on the iPhone or GPS’s screen. At the 3.5 to 4.5 inch screens most GPSes have, there's not much to see any way. You should hear where you're going.

In what would become a well-developed experience with Navigon's MobileNavigator there's not much to hear unless you want to rack your brain for days and days. One of MobileNavigator's most coveted features, I think, is text-to-speech, which audibly announces street names at strategic points on the way to your destination.

No matter what I tried—resetting, reinstalling, resyncing and rueful regretting—I couldn't get audio of any kind: no turn-by-turn, no text-to-speech—not even static. Then. Eureka! Problem finally solved. I went to TomTom’s site and found a clue that help me get MobileNavigator working: Turns out that too much digital junk in your iPhone's storage trunk keeps the app from unpacking an installing completely. After deleting some apps and music on my device MobileNavigator ran with text-to-speech as promised on Navigon’s iTunes description page.

I didn't have a chance to compare this app with TomTom's, however. I don't have the 90 shekels the app costs. From what I can tell from the feature lists and buyer reviews, the MobileNavigator has an edge but don't take that to the bank. You'd probably be happy with either of them.

The next step for GPS apps for the iPhone is traffic reporting, which requires a fee, and relies in part on crowd-sourcing.

Finally, as a reminder, the quality of the your GPS-low-riding depends on the quality of the signal. There are several optional mounts available, which sell between $20 (Kensington) and $100 (ouch, that one is TomTom's).

Image Gallery: NAVIGON North America

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  • Greg

    Have you checked out CoPilot? I just got it for $19.99 (now $24.99) and it has everything except text to speech. It does have Audible turn-by-turn. I'm curious if the higher prices options are that much better. Has anyone compared?

  • Guinea Pigz

    RT: @appcraver Navigon AG’s MobileNavigator Lost Me There for a While #iphone

  • Marshall

    Just for the record, I have Navigon, and I had TomTom.. Navigon is much better especially with the ability to control the ipod without the need to leave the app. The audible alerts are good enough that I can use on my motorcycle with my headset just as well as I can use it in my car.. Couldn't do that with TomTom either. All I'm saying is I used to love reading appcraver reviews, but seeing more and more reviews like this just makes it seems like you guys are getting stupid and lazy. There is a big difference between TomTom and Navigon and this piss poor review said they are "probably" be happier with either. Don't give an opinion on something you haven't even used, you would just be wasting someone else's money and your cheap ass wouldn't even buy one of the versions yourself... You had to get a hand out. So if you want a good nav app and your not a total cheap ass get Navigon. You won't be happy with TomTom, trust me, someone who's actually used both apps... A LOT.

  • shane

    you know, marshall, these guys at appcraver are doing reviews and giving their opinions for free. you have no right to curse out someone for giving you free advice. he said that he couldn't afford to buy the tomtom app to review it. if you want better reviews, pay for them, like maybe buy the tomtom app for the reviewer so that he can give you a good review on both. until you are forced to pay for only half the information, stop dogging out the person giving it to you for free!! p.s with over 100,000 apps out there, no one could possibly review all of them in a lifetime.

  • Tony

    poorly designed, for a gps app stating its forCanada & US , a vast majority of canadian streets aren't listed. So, if you're an American driving into Canada, don't use this app -- you'll get lost ...

  • Tony

    **** Mistake, the comment above was for COPILOT, and not for Navigon.
    Navigon is 100% error free, great gps app.

  • Brian

    Marshall Says:
    The audible alerts are good enough that I can use on my motorcycle with my headset just as well as I can use it in my car.

    Does Navigon work with a mono (non-A2DP) headset such as the BlueAnt Interphone? Does TomTom? I'm going to buy one of these apps for the bike, but I can't seem to get a solid answer from either company concerning mono bluetooth audio routing.

  • Seanno

    I was recently in the market to buy one of the GPS app's and ended up purchasing the Navigon. Both Tom Tom and Navigon have fanboys, just read the reviews users have left at the app Store. Overall the reviews for the Navigon were better and thats why I purchased it over the Tom Tom. It seems that having problem's with the GPS software is not exatly an uncommon thing. The Navigon seems to have slightly fewer prioblems than the Tom Tom, overall and more features (like google poi search and traffic). One thing to note is; Most of the people that were having GPS signal loss problems, seemed to be 3g owners as apposed to 3gs. I have had the Navigon app for a couple of weeks and have had no issues with it at all (I have a 3gs)

  • Garrett

    I'm looking for a good GPS app in the $30 to $50 range. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.

  • DaveASM3

    What about MapQuest 4 mobile for the iPhone. It works well for me. It is free. It gives audible directions.