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Epic Follow-Up Review: Navigon MobileNavigator for iPhone

The last time we took a look at Navigon’s MobileNavigator was back in December at version 1.4. Navigon released version 1.6 for the iPhone about a month ago, and if you haven’t heard the news, MobileNavigator turned one on August 12 and Navigon is having one heck of a sale to celebrate. So, let’s get caught up with what’s new in MobileNavigator.

Version 1.5
Connection to Facebook and Twitter
Panorama View 3-D
Navigon MyRoutes

Version 1.6:
Weather Live
“Clever Parking”
Improved Destination Information Display
Pedestrian Voice Guidance
iPhone 4 Retina Display Enhancements
Enhanced Reality View Pro and Street Name Text
Latest NAVTEQ Maps
iOS4 Background Support


Ok, so Navigon has been pretty busy in the last 6 months. That is why this is an “epic” follow-up review. There is just so much ground to cover in this app! Of course, if you have followed the iPhone App Store’s turn by turn navigation offerings since they started coming out last year, you would know why. This is a dog eat dog space. There are the big name GPS players, Navigon, TomTom, and Magellan, and several other products from CoPilot, AT&T, and MotionX, just to name a few. The big three store all of their maps in the phone’s memory and each boast a host of cool features. Navigon’s MobileNavigator for the US and Canada weighs in at a normal retail price of $79.99. Even with current and occasional sale prices as low as $39.99, this is still a hefty price to pay for an iPhone app. Fortunately, Navigon and their competitors have added new features at a very fast pace, which helps in justifying the app’s expense.

In my opinion, Navigon got out in front of the pack early in the feature arms race. They were one of the first GPS apps to roll out Text To Speech, Live Traffic Updates, and integrated Google Search. Navigon has also managed to stay a step ahead of the pack with their constant updates. Versions 1.5 and 1.6 pack some surprising new features that even take it beyond the capabilities of most standalone GPSs, like weather and social networking. Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the notable new additions.

The new social network features are seamlessly integrated into MobileNavigator. Two of the most common social networks, Facebook and Twitter are available. Once your user name and password are set up for each, making a post is a snap. If you have a route set up when you post, your destination and time of arrival are given, while if you just have the app open but aren’t in an active route, your current location is given in latitude and longitude. Even though the content of the messages is the same, the format is slightly different.

Twitter displays the message content only, which makes sense based on the service’s character per post limitations.

Facebook shows the information as a wall post on your wall and the walls of your friends. With its broader format, Facebook also provides flexibility for extra content. Besides the message content, wall posts also contain a text box for an included personal message, a link to a Google Map of your location or destination, and a link to MobileNavigator in the Apple App Store. With the incredible pervasiveness of Facebook and Twitter today, these social integrations are very handy for quickly sharing your navigation and location info on the go. This is a great first step for Navigon. It would be nice to see them branch out further as time goes on. There are many small players in the fast growing location-aware social network space, and after things start to shake out more, I would like to see Navigon partner with a couple of the main services. It makes sense given the obvious overlap between MobileNavigator and these services, and it would keep consumers from having to open another app to post their location while busy on the road.

The new Panorama 3-D Map mode is a very unique and intriguing feature. It definitely sets MobileNavigator apart from its competitors in the App Store. Navigon used elevation data from NASA to bring a true three dimensional perspective to their NAVTEQ maps. While this feature certainly isn’t an absolute necessity, it adds so much life and realism to the map data that I never drive without it anymore.

I happen to live in a very flat area, so while I love this feature, I don’t often see wide variations in elevation while driving at home.

However, I do travel through hilly terrain quite often, and I recently took a trip through the mountains in Western North Carolina and got to see the full effect of Panorama 3-D. The realism that the displayed elevation adds definitely brought the drive to life, and actually proved to be more practical than I expected. If you are used to driving over flat terrain, like me, then you might find the spacial relationships of driving through the mountains quite different. Seeing the actual terrain represented on the screen and the rise and fall of the road, especially around curves and bends in the road where you can’t see, is a big help. Even more so when you get off the Interstates and main highways and onto some narrow, winding backroads. Bear in mind that Panorama 3-D does cost an extra in-app purchase of $9.99 retail. I think it is well worth the price, but for some, it may not be anything more than eye candy. Also, bear in mind that the elevation data is over 500 megs, so it will take what is already a very large app to over 2 gigabytes.

Navigon’s MyRoutes feature has changed the way I use MobileNavigator on a daily basis. It is a creative solution that fills in a gap in the routing options that existed in previous versions of the app. Before MyRoutes, the app would choose a route based on the Type of Route (Fast, Optimum, Short, Scenic) and Route Speed (Car, Motorcycle, Truck, Bicycle, or Pedestrian), and if you have purchased the Live Traffic add on, may also change the route or suggest alternates based on current traffic conditions. I found that Navigon would often prefer major roads in the Fast and Optimum modes, which tend to have more red lights and often get clogged and congested during certain times of the day, rather than large secondary roads. While simply not following Navigon’s direction will cause it to recalculate based on changes that you make in the route, this isn’t the most elegant solution. It is also not very practical if you are traveling in an unfamiliar location.

So why does the problem exist? First, the Type of Route and Route Speed settings are meant to be a broad stroke way of changing your route. You might get drastically different directions if you change the type from Fast to Short or Scenic. These settings were not meant to fine tune the app’s routing. Second, as good as Navigon’s Live Traffic service is, it doesn’t catch everything. The fact is, no traffic reporting service can. They will only show accidents some time after they have been reported, and only the worst traffic congestion and construction areas tend to show up. Things like normal traffic flow depending on time of day and rush hour traffic can easily slip by these services.

The MyRoutes feature is Navigon’s solution to this dilemma of finding the best path to take at a given in a given place. MobileNavigator compiles data about your driving and uses it to determine up to three different routes to any requested destination. According to Navigon, MyRoutes takes time of day, day of the week, and average speed into account to help determine traffic patterns. It also learns the paths that you prefer as you drive.

When the MyRoutes data is presented on the screen, you can see each route mapped in a separate color, with mileage and estimated time of travel shown. Navigon’s recommended route will be listed with the MyRoute tag, but any of the routes can be chosen by tapping the corresponding button. After you select a route and begin navigation, you can also pull up MyRoutes again from the Options menu. Selecting it from the menu while navigating prompts MobileNavigator to re-run MyRoutes and re-select the perspective options starting from your current location. This is a nice addition if you are traveling through a large city during your route, as you can get different options for navigating through or around a city with time estimates attached. The MyRoutes feature can be disabled from the Options menu if you prefer Navigon to use its previous method of choosing a single route.  MyRoutes is a big addition to MobileNavigator and, best of all, it is free.

Moving on to the latest feature updates from Mobile Navigator Version 1.6, we have Weather Center. This, like Navigon’s social network additions, is another way of adding functionality shared by other apps and services, but giving instant access to it based on the users’ current location and destination. Navigon provides weather data from Foreca, which I honestly had never heard of before I started using this feature. Being from the US, this may seem like a strange decision, but Navigon is based in Europe, as is Foreca. They provide worldwide weather data, which makes sense for an app that is offered worldwide. From what I have tested in MobileNavigator, Foreca’s data and content are solid and I haven’t had any problems with it.

Weather Center takes a lot of work out of hunting down conditions along your chosen route, which is very handy when traveling long distances. All of the major weather apps provide current conditions and maps based on the iPhone’s GPS location, but they have no way of knowing where you are headed. If you are traveling 300 miles or more, you might have to look up 2 or three cities to get the whole picture of your route.

With Weather Center, Navigon takes care of this for you, providing current conditions displayed along your route map. You can get updates on current conditions by calling Weather Center back up from the Options menu, starting from your current location to your destination. In the future, it would be nice if Navigon would make this a little easier to access from the map while driving. It is difficult to get back to while driving.

By tapping on the map graphic depicting current conditions on the map, you are taken to a 3-Day Forecast screen for that location.

Selecting any of the three days will take you to an in-app web page display with a map, current conditions, and an hourly conditions forecast. Links to a 10-Day forecast, various Animated Weather maps, and recently visited locations are provided at the bottom of the screen. All of the content is easy to get to and read without too much effort while driving.

Weather Center takes 99% of the leg work out of looking up the weather along your route, so it is a welcomed addition. In the future, it would be nice to see Navigon put a notification similar to the traffic icon on the map, or send a Local Notification for severe weather warnings along your route. So many of us listen to content from our iPhones while traveling rather than local radio stations along the way, so this could be a potential life saver if you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For anyone who commutes or travels to major cities, especially densely packed downtown areas, Navigon’s new Clever Parking feature might just be a killer addition. I don’t live in a huge city, and hardly ever work in the downtown area where this feature would come into play, so I haven’t been able to test it in real life. I have looked up routes that would make use of it and used it with the simulator, however, and I really liked what I saw. If there are Parking lots or garages near your destination, you can access the Clever Parking feature from either the Destination Information Display (more on this in a moment) or a pop up parking icon in the top left corner of the navigation map that appears when you approach your destination.

Selecting either of these brings up a list of nearby lots or garages with their distance to your destination.

Selecting one enters it as an interim destination on your route, so you are navigated there first.

This is a more ideal solution than changing your destination, since if you are in an unfamiliar location, you might still need directions. You can just change your Speed Profile to Pedestrian, and you will get walking directions the rest of the way to your final destination.

I think Navigon was very smart with their implementation of Clever Parking. They already had this information stored in their map interface as POIs. In earlier versions, you could do a search for a parking facility near your location using Navigon’s POI search. However, this takes more time and clicks, and as such, keeps your eyes on the screen longer. This is an accident waiting to happen in downtown driving. Now with Clever Parking, you are prompted to make a selection as you begin your route, and again as you arrive, and each takes fewer clicks and attention. Navigon has taken a feature of MobileNavigator that already worked, and just made it work better.

MobileNavigator’s improved Destination Information Display is another example of Navigon strengthening on a solid existing feature. In past versions, a map showing the routing to your destination would be shown immediately after selecting it. Now, the new Destination Information Display presents you with several pieces of information regarding your destination split into three menu tabs: Map, Info, and More.

The Info menu, which comes up initially, has the current weather for your destination, and nearby parking facilities. It also has 3 more spaces for nearby POIs. Navigon made a really nice choice here by taking the 3 user definable POI types that can be accessed with icons on the main POI screen, and using them to populate this list. In my case, I have Exxon gas stations (for my Exxon company gas card), restaurants, and coffee shops set as my three. Now, I will see when any of these places are near my destination. Kudos to Navigon again, for taking information they already had, and putting it to even better use.

Selecting the weather tab will take you to your destination’s three day forecast screen. From there, you can use any of the Weather Center feature that I described earlier. Selecting a parking facility or another POI will take you to a map showing its location. Tapping the Start Navigation button after selecting a POI will automatically add it into your route as an Interim Destination, which is a nice time saver.

The More menu tab gives you fast access to three features: Send Destination, Route Profile, and Save as Home Address. Send Destination lets you send your chosen destination to someone as an email message.

Unlike the Social Network messages that I described earlier, this feature is geared more toward sending your destination to someone who also has MobileNavigator installed on their iPhone. If you have multiple phones on your iTunes account and multiple copies of the app installed on them, then this can be very handy. Now you can synchronize the destination across multiple copies when taking a group trip.

The Route Profile gives you fast access to the Options menu of the same name, where you can set your Speed Profile, Type of Route, and your road restrictions. The last selection is the Save As Home button, which I feel is a curious choice. Typically , Save As Home is something that you do a limited number of times. I could see where someone who travels a lot might set their hotel as their home while they are out of town. Then they can use the handy Take Me Home button on the Main Menu screen to get quick directions back to their room. However, this seems like a limited application. For a feature that makes excellent use of space elsewhere, I wouldn’t mind seeing something else more applicable here, like maybe the new Social Network feature.

The Map tab brings you to the same map screen you used to get in earlier versions. You can tap the magnifying glass icon to open the map full screen, where you can pinch to zoom in or out, or adjust your destination by moving the thumbtack.

I do have a few minor quibbles with this new feature. MobileNavigator’s improved Destination Information Display does a great job of bringing a lot of important information and settings into a small space, but keeping it readable. I do, however, wish that Navigon would make the Map, Info, and More tabs a little bigger. The information on the screen is large enough to easily read and easily select while driving, but the category tabs require a little aiming because of their size.

I would also love to see Navigon take the magnifying glass that is on the initial map tab, and add it to the full 2-D map display. Pinch to Zoom is standard across the iOS interface, so I am not advocating taking it out. I much prefer using it to any other method while not driving. It would just be nice to have zoom in and out buttons on the screen to get a wider view with one finger while driving. The 2-D map tends to be zoomed in very close when you first open it. Third, for those of us who have the Live Traffic feature, it would be nice to see that data for my route somewhere on the Info screen. Lastly, I know that the Take Me Home button is to get quick directions home with one click, but I wouldn’t mind seeing at least the Weather Center from the Destination Information Display for my route home before I start. These are all pretty minor requests, but would make this great new feature that much better, in my humble opinion.

I don’t tend to use MobileNavigator too much while walking, as I don’t tend to work a lot in congested urban areas. I did, however, get a chance to try out the previous version’s Pedestrian mode on a weekend trip to New Orleans this last Spring. Even though I went to school just an hour away at LSU, and made many trips to New Orleans during my four years there, I found that I had forgotten what little I knew about downtown New Orleans. My destinations were also quite different this time around, as I was taking my wife and kids to the Aquarium, the Children’s Museum, and then to lunch at Mother’s for the best Po-Boys on the planet. I didn’t venture to any of these places during my college years and the only time I saw the sun in New Orleans back then was on its way up. Anyway, I decided to take MobileNavigator’s Pedestrian mode for a spin, and I really liked what I saw for the most part. I had never even pulled it up before, so I was a little surprised to see that there was no voice guidance. The route was laid out on the 3-D map for me, but the rest of the interface was quite different from the other Speed Types.

There were now large arrows all along the route marking the correct direction. The icon showing my position also had a red arrow attached to it, which is a little different, and the “next turn” notification box in the lower left of the screen was replaced by a compass. Also, the distance to my destination was now displayed at the top of the screen, rather than the bottom where it is normally located.

The interface changes didn’t bother me, but with three kids to shepherd around the heart of downtown New Orleans, holding my iPhone in my hand all of the time wasn’t an option. I even cheated a little bit and switched my speed profile over to Bicycle so that I could get voice guidance in my ear while I kept my iPhone in my pocket. This worked ok for a quick word on where I was headed, but we weren’t really moving fast enough for the app’s liking. It was also tough to keep a GPS lock with the phone in my pocket in among the highrise buildings. While I had to tinker with it a bit, the Pedestrian mode did its job, and got us where we were going. Whatever shortcomings it had, it was worlds better than trying to use Google Maps in the middle of downtown Atlanta a year earlier. That was a nightmare.

Evidently I am not the only one to notice the big differences between the Pedestrian speed mode and all of the others, because now Navigon has added a new Pedestrian mode with Voice Guidance.

Navigon needs to program their simulator to walk slower.

I would assume that this is due to complaints and requests. This mode retains the exact same look and feel as the rest of the app’s Speed Profiles, and, of course, offers Voice prompts for turns that have to be made. It has been between 98 and 104 degrees outside in the Memphis area for most of the last two weeks, so I have not been able to personally test this feature. I have, however, run it and the original Pedestrian mode through several routes in the simulator mode, and this new addition seems to work great. As long as you can hold a good GPS lock where you are walking, it should do a fine job. I really like that Navigon didn’t just replace the old mode, because it has a certain usefulness all its own. Having both modes available gives MobileNavigator more variety, which is always a good thing.

There is one issue to point out with using MobileNavigator for walking directions: battery life. With my new iPhone 4, I am not too worried that using the app to get around for a day would wipe me out, but I wouldn’t be so certain with an older device. I was using a jailbroken 3GS on my trip in New Orleans, and if I didn’t have a rechargeable backup battery with me, my iPhone would have died before we got back to the parking garage around 4 PM. Of course, I was using my phone for other things besides directions, like taking pictures and videos of the kids, and making a couple of calls, but I really tried not to overdo it. Other than the navigation, I probably used my iPhone less than I would on a normal work day. This is just a word of caution. If you are going for a walk with MobileNavigator and you have an older iPhone, be prepared and bring a charger or backup battery with you.

While Navigon hasn’t changed too much as far as the basic look and feel go, they have made a couple of nice enhancements to the map displays. The maps come in crystal clear on my iPhone 4’s Retina Display. It seems a little less jagged and pixelated in places. The best enhancement, in my opinion, is the subtle change in the street name format. Instead of the plain black text right on top of the street of the former versions, the text is now raised off the map a bit and is outlined in white, adding to the display contrast and making it much more readable. This was a common gripe with previous versions, and it is nice to see Navigon make this subtle improvement.

Another area of improvement is in Reality View Pro and Lane Assist Pro. This feature brings up a static graphic for Interstate and major Highway exits and interchanges and tunnels, which shows the lanes that you need to be in to stay on your route.

I really liked the original version of this feature, as it usually did a very good job of telling you which lanes you needed to be in, especially if you are in unfamiliar territory. Now, the graphics and sign text have been improved a bit and the signs contain all of the spoken information about an exit. I have never noticed this before, but you can tap on the screen when Reality View Pro is enabled, and you will return to the navigation map, but with Lane Assist Pro enabled in the bottom right of the screen to keep you in the right place for upcoming exits or interchanges.

I am not sure if this is new, but it is worth mentioning. These subtle improvement help to make MobileNavigator a little more polished.

One of the things you can rely on with standalone GPS units is paying for map updates. This is just a given. It is the “death and taxes” of the GPS world. Well, so far this has not been the case for any of the iPhone GPS apps that have on-board maps. Navigon continues this trend with Version 1.6, which has the latest NAVTEQ map updates included. I know I had a couple of spots in my local area that were incorrect that I had reported using Navigon’s online map reporting tool, located on their website. One of those spots, an old bridge that had collapsed and had been abandoned that was recently rebuilt, has not been fixed. The other, a nice new 5-lane road through what used to be farmland, has been. So, whatever changes have been made by NAVTEQ in the last year are yours, free of charge. As far as the future is concerned, Navigon has not gone on the record yet on whether they will continue these free map updates or not. Sure, the iPhone app is quite expensive, but most standalone GPS units cost even more. One important note, however, is that Navigon probably makes a good deal more profit per sale on software, than on a piece of hardware. Hopefully Navigon, as well as TomTom and Magellan, will shed some light on this topic in the future. The only company that has committed to an upgrade path so far is ALK, whose Co-Pilot will get free updates with user submitted fixes until December 2010.

The last new feature that we come to is iOS 4 Background Navigation support. This one should be the shining star of the group, right? Let’s take a look, shall we? First off, MobileNavigator works great while other apps are in the background. Before the release iOS 4, I had my iPhone 3GS jailbroken almost exclusively for this purpose. I love to listen to podcasts while I am on the road, and I have used Podcaster (formerly RSS Player) to do this for a while now. Until I jailbroke, there was no way to use these two apps together. Once I did, I ran them together almost every day. Unfortunately, they didn’t always play so nicely together. Where MobileNavigator would mute music from the native iPod app, it didn’t recognize Podcaster running with Backgrounder, so both would spew audio on top of each other at the same volume, which could be tough to understand. This was especially noticeable during complicated navigation instructions. For those of us with iPhone 3GSs and iPhone 4s, those days are thankfully over. Now, iOS4 enabled audio apps like Podcaster and Pandora are background compatible, and work exactly like the iPod app. When MobileNavigator issues instructions, Podcaster or any other streaming app is muted, and all is well. It is very important that Navigon work in this setup because navigating with the map up with audio in the background will be the most common method of use for most people while on the road.

For the times that you need to take a call, or open another app to do a little business while out and about, MobileNavigator will continue to give navigation instructions in the background. Well…..sort of. More on that in a second. Just like any iOS 4 app, Putting MobileNavigator in the background is very simple. Just press the Home button on the iPhone and the app goes into the background. While it, or any other location aware app are running, the navigation icon (the purple arrow) will be visible next to the time in the upper right corner of the screen.

MobileNavigator can be re-opened by double tapping the Home button, bringing up the Fast Switching menu, and tapping the icon.

I actually upgraded to version 1.6 while I was on the road for work, and I was very interested to try it out when I finished up the next day and headed home. One of the first things I did once I got my podcast playing and my route set up was to put MobileNavigator in the background. It reliably gave me voice instructions for a few turns over several miles, so I brought it back to the foreground and left it. On another trip a week later, I put MobileNavigator in the background and left it for a while. It worked fine at first, but then I noticed that I didn’t hear any instructions for a while. When I opened it back up, rather than being taken back to my route, I found myself back at the boot up screen. When MobileNavigator came back up, my route was gone and I was back at the Main Menu screen. I was a bit concerned, but I hoped it was just an occasional crash. However, after doing a lot of testing over the next few days, I found that this happened every time I left MobileNavigator in the background. Fortunately, this bug didn’t occur while I was in unfamiliar territory, but if it had, it could have been a very big problem. It doesn’t take long to get really off track if you don’t know where you are going. I searched around the web and found that I wasn’t the only one with this little problem. So, now the question became, is this Navigon’s bug, or is this possibly an iOS 4 background navigation issue?

I got my answer courtesy of Johan-Till Broer, Public Relations Manager for Navigon US, who was kind enough to shed some light on the situation. It turns out that this issue does rest with Navigon. They, in their concern about battery drain during background use, decided to kill MobileNavigator after 20 minutes. Unfortunately, they just forgot to tell anybody about this important little detail. According to Mr Broer, due to confusion over the implementation of this feature, Navigon will be realeasing an update to address the problem. When updated, MobileNavigator will send a Local Notification reminder that it is still running in the background and give the user the choice to continue or not. After a certain period of time, the app will go ahead and shut down to protect against running down in your pocket if you miss the messages. I think this is a pretty fair trade off, and a good solution to keep the user informed of what is going on. As an iPhone 4 user, I think it might take a while for MobileNavigator to entirely drain the battery, but not nearly as much time if you have a 3G or 3GS running on battery. I won’t fault Navigon too much for this, because they definitely had the user’s needs in mind. Their initial implementation and communication just left something to be desired.

The other issue in play here is the failure of MobileNavigator to work with iOS 4’s Fast App Switching. Before iOS 4, if the app shut down, it immediately came back up to your route when you restarted it. As soon as it regained a GPS lock, you could continue on your way from you current location. Unfortunately, every time MobileNavigator shut down on me after backgrounding, it came back up with my route flushed. It wasn’t too hard to get it back up by going to the Recents tab and re-selecting it, but it would be easy to miss an exit in the amount of time it takes to do that and recalculate your route. On a good note, though, Mr Broer assured me that this just another aspect of how they implemented backgrounding, and not another issue. It will be fixed along with the previously mentioned backgrounding changes in the next release.

All issues with backgrounding aside, this is the first iOS 4 compatable release from Navigon, so a bug here and there is forgivable. They just needs to be addressed and fixed soon. This situation does shed light on something that MobileNavigator could really use: a User’s Guide. Any app that is this large, complex, and expensive should afford the user some way of learning more about how it operates. I really hope that Navigon will make a comprehensive user’s guide available in the not to distant future.

Despite the issues I just mentioned, however, I would definitely recommend Navigon’s MobileNavigator to anyone looking for a turn-by-turn GPS solution for their iOS device. I think that Navigon has done a great job of getting out in front of their competition, and staying there with constant updates and feature additions. Just consider that, in one year, Navigon has released 6 separate major upgrades to their app, and that the majority of the features have been free. They have also stuck with flat pricing for their few in-app purchases, unlike some of their competitors who offer traffic service on a yearly subscription basis. Now, at the normal price of $79.99 for North America, MobileNavigator certainly isn’t cheap. And if you purchase the two in-app additions, that is an additional $34.98 that you have to hand over. These prices are comparable to the other major GPS applications in the App Store that include on-board maps, at least when you compare apples to apples, but it is still a lot of money for one app. Fortunately, you can find MobileNavigator at various sale prices at different times throughout the year. I was able to get it for $59.99 when I bought it in January. With all of the features and upgrades that Navigon has put into MobileNavigator over the last year, I think it is worth every penny. I probably could have gotten a bargain basement standalone GPS for around what I paid, but it wouldn’t have all of the features, lifetime traffic, superior iOS interface, and Contacts integration that I get with this app. If you travel enough to want or need a GPS, and want the convenience of carrying one device on the road, then MobileNavigator is a great choice at or near retail price.

Now, if $79.99 is just too much to spend on an iOS GPS app, no matter how good it is, then you have a couple of options. First, Navigon made a smart decision several months ago and split their US version by region, and renamed it US MyRegion. Now, if you tend to do your traveling in your local or regional area, then you can get all of the functionality, features, and in-app upgrades as the standard MobileNavigator North America in a cheaper and smaller package. Coming in at a much lighter $29.99 retail, this app is split into three areas: East, Central, and West. Now, if you venture outside of your region for a trip or vacation, you have the option of buying either of the other two regions for a $14.99 one-time fee as an in-app purchase. I think this was a shrewd decision on Navigon’s part to get their price down to a mass market level, but still retain the features and the ability to expand the app at a reasonable price.

Last, and most definitely not least, Navigon’s MobileNavigator just turned one year old, and Navigon is celebrating this birthday with a huge sale from August 12-14. All MobileNavigator and MyRegion versions are 50% off, as well as the Panorama 3-D and Live Traffic in-app purchase upgrades. Map upgrades for the MyRegion US apps are also on sale for 30% off. I already recommended MobileNavigator at retail price for anyone who needs a GPS and doesn’t want to skimp on features. At 50% off, anyone still reading needs to leave this review now, get to the App Store while this sale is still going on, and get one of these apps. How can you possibly beat $32.97 for a fully featured regional GPS app with Panorama 3-D and lifetime Live Traffic? That is an absolute steal. These are definitely the cheapest prices I have seen Navigon offer on their apps, so if I were you, I would not hesitate. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

Sale Prices- Effective from Aug 12-14
Applications
MobileNavigator North America (includes maps for Canada & US): $39.99 instead of $79.99
MobileNavigator USA: $24.99 instead of $49.99
MobileNavigator Canada: $29.99 instead of $59.99
MobileNavigator US MyRegion East, Central or West: $14.99 instead of $29.99, additional regions $11.99 instead of $14.99.

In-App Purchases
Traffic Live: $12.99 instead of $24.99
Panorama View 3D: $4.99 instead of $9.99

Navigon MobileNavigator NorthAmerica is available in the Apple App Store here.

Navigon MobileNavigator US MyRegion East is available in the Apple App Store here.

Navigon MobileNavigator US MyRegion Central is available in the Apple App Store here.

Navigon MobileNavigator US MyRegion West is available in the Apple App Store here.

This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPhone App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

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  • Lou W

    Does this work well on an iPhone 3G running iOS4?

    • Ben Senise

      No! iOS4 on a 3G is unusable. Everything is so slow that you'll throw your iPhone out the window. I just downgraded back to 3.1.3 and all is well. I strongly recommend staying with 3.1.3 until apple fixes iOS4 so that it works on the 3G.

  • jhrogersii

    That's a good question. I am not sure about the iOS 4 part. My wife has MobileNavigator installed on her 3.1.2 3G, and it lags a bit at startup and in the menus, but it works fine. Now, I wouldn't trust the battery very far. You will want to use a car charger. Also, my 3GS did run warm at times on long trips, but it was also jailbroken and running multiple apps through Backgrounder. I always keep my iPhone in a windshield mounted cradle, so I would just divert one of my car's AC vents upward a bit to put some air on it to keep the heat in check.

    You might check the reviews in the App Store for recent comments 3G owners. If anyone out there has a 3G with iOS 4 with MobileNavigator, please let us know what you are experiencing.

    • Jason

      I have a ipod touch 2g on ios 4.0.2, if that means anything, and it crashes and reboots my ipod constantly. I hope they are working on an update. When it does work, it is great.

  • Brian

    Even at full retail, I don't think this is outrageously priced and at half price it's a hot deal. Think of what it costs to rent a portable GPS with a rental car when you're in a strange city. A few days of that and you OWN this.

  • jhrogersii

    I absolutely agree, which is why I recommend MobileNavigator so wholeheartedly. I was actually a little hesitant to pay the $59.99 sale price, but I tried out a couple of other apps that didn't meet my needs, and part of the price was covered as a birthday present, so I took the plunge. I'm glad I did. I would have do it even quicker at the current sale prices.

  • Brian

    I can now confirm that Mobile Navigator runs on a 3G running iOS4. I wouldn't say it runs quickly or smoothly, but since I made the mistake of upgrading to iOS4, NOTHING runs quickly or smoothly on my 3G. I'd love to see Navigator run on the latest iPhone. Maybe I will. . .when Verizon gets the iPhone!

  • Renkman

    Wow, what a thorough detailed review–I'm impressed!

  • Brian

    I am less enthused than you about Foreca as the source for weather info. It produced no results for my home location, which is Pasadena, CA – Rose Bowl, CalTech, JPL and all – not exactly a remote outpost in the hinterlands. We're within 10 miles or so of Burbank Airport, and all airports are official weather sites. And yet there's no data? I'd like to see Navigon make this a bit more robust by using a U.S. source and have the sophistication to find the nearest reporting point even if it's a different city name.

  • Brian

    There IS a user guide for MobileNavigator, though they certainly don't make it easily accessible. ! I couldn't find it on my own – it took pestering Tech Support. The guide is at http://www.navigon.com/portal/common/Download/Man….

    • patrickj

      Just FYI again – nice to see comments flowing on this one. Great stuff James.

  • Brian

    Let me update that to say there is something labeled a "user guide" but it's really just a collection of FAQs available at http://www.navigon.com/portal/common/Download/Man

  • Alexander

    Thanks so much for posting this extensive review – it was extremely helpful!

    One correction: Traffic Live (in-app) is actually $9.99 during the Aug 12-14 sale. I just grabbed the US map + Panorama View + Traffic Live for ~$40 total, what a deal!

  • jhrogersii

    Sorry about missing the User's Guide. It certainly isn't very obvious. I spent most of my time with my contact at Navigon talking about the backgrounding implementation issues.

    I find it surprising that the Live Traffic price is incorrect, since that pricing section is straight from Navigon's press release. Guess they decided to go lower.

    Thanks for all of the great feedback.

  • weckman

    Hi there!

    This was one loooong but absolutely awesome review. I've actually been using NAVIGON's MobileNavigator since day one here in Germany (and am still loving it, bought all add-ons so far, although I rarely see the Panorama 3D effect either, no mountains near Cologne 🙂 ), and even I started up the app on my iPhone 4 several times while reading Your review, checking out some minor feature of the last two updates I apparently overlooked.

    After initially having planned to wait for TomTom to release their app last year, I chose the lesser know one from NAVIGON and have indeed not regretted it a single day. Great look, great features, with more being added all the time. And all that even though, compared to TomTom, NAVIGON is a rather small company. I'd be more than willing to pay for map updates next time, I only hope that NAVIGON will find an easy way to implement the purchase, I'm not sure if it's possible via add-ons yet.

    Again – thanks for the great write-up!

    Cheers!

  • Revirks

    Is it possible to searh by street name without first entering city or zip code

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  • Jeff Weaver

    Is it possible to just view the map as you drive without entering a destination?