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AT&T Navigator app FAILS me, ends up on my app Hall-of-Shame!

I decided to give AT&T’s turn-by-turn navigation app, AT&T Navigator, a try today while running errands here in Portland. I had several places I needed to go that were in a part of the city I wasn’t completely familiar with, so I thought it would be a great trial for this app.

Boy was I wrong about that! Even in a city with very good 3G coverage and strong GPS reception AT&T Navigator is completely unusable. It’s a good thing I had my windshield mount Garmin in the car with me to resort to.

Because the app does not download any data whatsoever to the iPhone’s memory, everthing is streamed on demand. This means your device must maintain a solid 3G signal in order for Navigator to even function.

Except, as you can see in the screen shot above, I had a solid 3G signal. But AT&T Navigator would not even stream data fast enough to keep up with me driving down a city street at 20mph. The app would just display the placeholder icon as shown above, while I drove block after block, having no idea which street to turn on.

By the time this particular location would load, I was 10 blocks past the edge of the screen. Then the app tried to relocate my position, and download the data again. But it could never keep up with me, and I wasn’t even on the freeway.

I finally just pulled over, hooked up my Garmin, and used it to complete my errands. Later, after a fresh reboot of my iPhone, I tried AT&T Navigator again, but the experience was no different. It simply couldn’t pull data fast enough.

Now before someone tries to blame this on my 3G speed, let me say this: I ran a speed test at the same time I was trying to use Navigator. I was able to download data down over 3G at 1,316kbps which is what I usually average in Portland. This is more than 1Mb per second, and should be just fine to download map data. As a comparison, the Google Maps app is able to track me just fine, and I never see that app pausing to load data.

So why the hell would a turn by turn navigation app be unable to stream the data it requires to even function, fast enough over the 3G network it is connected to? Oh the app works fine on my home wifi or Starbuck’s wifi. But I already know where those places are, I need to navigate to places that don’t have wifi.

Come on AT&T, for $9.95 per month, I expect a service THAT I CAN USE! Not just an app that looks cool; it must be functional as well, on the network that you have created. That’s $120.00 a year you’re getting from me, just for a single app. That’s more than even TomTom or Navigon’s app, both of which store the majority of the data on the device, so they still work without any 3G signal.

I’ve now deleted AT&T Navigator from my iPhone, and canceled the monthly service on my account. I was hopeful that it would offer a decent service for the $10/month, but that is not the case. I was looking forward to the included traffic reports and automatic re-routing around traffic congestion. But who knows if the app actually even does that, since I couldn’t even get it to go down the block with me.

Do I recommend AT&T Navigator? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

What’s your experience with AT&T Navigator been, if you’ve used it? Does it work for you? Did you experience similar results as I have? What did finally go to? Another turn by turn app, or a dedicated GPS device? Leave your feedback in the comments!

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  • Jeff

    I've been using AT&T Navigator since before I even had the iPhone and it has always worked perfectly, even in the EDGE network area I live in…

  • My wife works for AT&T(I know, thanks for the sentiments) so we get the Navigator service free. I threw it on my 3GS awhile back just to give it a shot. Much like you, I have a Garmin in my vehicle already, so it was more for sh*ts and giggles. Sometimes I like to amuse myself just to do route comparisons provided by different services. I know, I must be way too bored!! lol But honestly, I didn't really have the problems that you experienced. It seemed to do a fairly good job with keeping up with my whereabouts. But never the less, it lived a very short life on my phone before it got the boot! LOL There's just something about maps.app that always pulls me back. Even my Garmin has almost become just a decorative piece. Because honestly, the only time I need navigation is if I'm going somewhere i've never been, and most of the time, that requires a search in maps.app for the address anyway. Rarely have i ever transposed that address from my iPhone and typed it into my Garmin….way too much time, verses just a few taps to route right on the phone(did I mention that I was lazy??).

    • Shobizz, I like my wife works @ AT&T thanks for the sentiments…. LOL I almost tried out this gps app but I kept saying it's AT&T had good could it be. Also I am boycotting that gps app b/c it is criminal to charge customers $9.95 per month for the use of the service. I'm glad I never did try it, I am still just pissed off @ AT&T for releasing their own Google Voice app. AT&T Virtual Receptionist…. thanks a lot for lying to everyone!!!!!

  • Peter Williams

    I have the same problem. And this is in the NYC metro area with FULL 3G service. I had the same app on my old Blackberry Curve through AT&T and it worked flawlessly (EDGE). Since getting the IPhone 3GS the Nav app just can't keep track of my location fast enough. Sometimes it takes over a minute before it will update, at which point it has to reroute because I missed my turn. Glad its not just me. I will test other apps to see if its the app or the phone.