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Navigon Mobile Navigator 1.6

Navigon Mobile Navigator is a full-featured GPS navigation app from Navigon. Reviewed version: 1.6, released on 24 April 2009 and priced at $89.99 (on sale for $40.99 through TKTK).

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The key benefit of the iPhone is that it puts information at our fingertips, wherever we are and whatever we may be doing. For many people, one of the most important questions the iPhone can answer is, “Where am I, and how do I get where I’m going?” The iPhone’s built-in Maps app can answer that question, but it does so in a relatively theoretical fashion thanks to an interface that makes it clumsy to use while driving in particular. Far better are the full-fledged GPS navigation apps that provide
3-D map views and spoken instructions at every turn.

The number of these GPS navigation apps proliferated soon after the release of iPhone OS 3, and now there are over TKTK apps that promise some sort of navigation aid. I reviewed a couple of the early ones (see TKTK), and have tested a few others, but the one I’ve settled on for now is Navigon Mobile Navigator, generally called just Navigon.

To my mind, Navigon does a good job combining the various approaches we’ve seen so far, maintaining a large (1.x GB) database of maps and points of interest within the app itself, so it’s not dependent on a cell data connection like AT&T Navigator, while still being able to connect to the Internet for additional point-of-interest searches and connecting to social networking services. At $89.99, it’s not cheap, although entirely in line with competing apps, and it’s good enough that I’m comfortable recommending that you ante up for it so your iPhone can direct you wherever you need to go in an unfamiliar location.

Key Features

Destination Entry
Main menu: Enter address, search for POI, Home, Show Map (pick visuallY)
Toolbar provides quick access to favorites, recents, contacts, and Options

Enter an Address remembers state and last city and autocompletes as much as is possible

Search for POI can limit by In a City, Statewide, Nearby, and has buttons for nearby fuel, parking, and restaurants. Slightly odd that city is first – real advantage is the Google search button

Maps
2-D and 3-D
Night mode (on off automatic)
Options to show street names and route info
Pick categories that will show on the map
distance unit (mi and km)

Spoken instructions with street names
Route choices if there are different ways to go
Route options
speed type (car, motorcycle, truck, bicycle, pedestrian)
Type of route (fast, optimum, short, scenic)
Highways, toll roads, ferries, residents only streets, HOV lanes (allow, avoid, forbid)
Speed limit warnings
iPod controls, and audiobook mode
Publish location to Facebook and Twitter

Extras: Traffic Live ($24.99) and Panorama View 3D ($9.99) via in-app purchase

Suggestions

Faster GPS pickup
Faster startup
Single-screen address entry
Option to control how often it speaks
More voices

Competition — I won’t pretend that WeatherBug is unique in what it does; it’s merely that it provides the detailed information I want in an easy-to-use interface. Other well-known general (as opposed to special-purpose) weather apps for the iPhone include the following. If I’ve missed a major one, let me know in the comments so I can add it to this list, and if I come across an app I like better than WeatherBug, I’ll review it separately.

  • The Weather Channel (free) and Max (paid)
  • AccuWeather.com (free) and Quick (paid)
  • QuickWX (free)
  • My-Cast OneLook (paid) and My-Cast Weather (paid)
  • WeatherEye (free)
  • MyWeather Lite (free) and MyWeather Mobile (paid)
  • NOAA National Weather Service (paid)
  • The Weather (paid)
  • Weather Pro (paid)
  • iWeather Complete (free) and Pro (paid)
  • Fizz Weather (paid)

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