Get To Your Destination With NAVIGON

Nowadays, iPhone owners are shooting movies and recording albums on their phone, as well as taking care of day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping, tweeting and sharing pictures. Because the iPhone is such a versatile device, the need to purchase other pieces of technology have subsided, especially when referring to GPS devices.

The App Store offers multiple GPS apps, which vary quite dramatically in price — but if you’re looking for a full-fledged GPS app, NAVIGON is the only way to go. Find out why after the jump.

Using NAVIGON

I’ve been a user of the NAVIGON app for years. In fact, it’s the only app I’ve paid more than $20 to purchase, mainly because it was so highly recommended and had so many features — and make no mistake about it, NAVIGON has a lot of features. So many, in fact, that I won’t be able to go in-depth about everyone of them. However, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t at least touch upon most of them in this review.

Setting Your Destination

When you’re planning to use a GPS device, the first step is inputting your destination (obviously). NAVIGON offers four methods to achieve this function — inputting an address, choose a saved or recently entered destination, search for a point of interest or simply choosing the Take Me Home option.

NAVIGON provides multiple methods of entering and searching for destinations.

NAVIGON provides multiple methods of entering and searching for destinations.

One of a few flaws in NAVIGON is how you enter an address. Most of the time I tend to copy an address from Safari or an e-mail and want to paste it in the blank field provided. Unfortunately, NAVIGON requires you to select a state, then search for a city, then street name and finally enter in the number. This process is so disliked in fact, that a third party developer created an app that allows you to paste a full address and enter it into NAVIGON.

This would be a great feature five years ago when I still wrote down all my addresses.

This would be a great feature five years ago when I still wrote down all my addresses.

Searching for a point of interest is really easy, as NAVIGON offers multiple options that allow you to search nearby, in a city and even nationwide. If you’re a fan of augmented reality, the Reality Scanner allows you to search for nearby businesses. You can even adjust your search radius from 100 to 500 feet.

Reality Scanner is a nice augmented reality feature, but probably best not used when driving.

Reality Scanner is a nice augmented reality feature, but probably best not used when driving.

NAVIGON also includes a Google local search option, but if you’re searching for a business that’s not nearby you’ll need to include the city in your search. Another nice, but annoying feature, is the ability to choose a contact’s address. I say annoying because the feature is not built-in with the main screen. To access the feature, you need to tap the More button in the bottom navigation bar and select Contacts.

Google Local Search is handy, but probably won't take the place of Localscope for me.

Google Local Search is handy, but probably won't take the place of Localscope for me.

Once you’ve entered or found your destination, you’ll be taken to a confirmation screen. From here, you can view the map by tapping the magnify glass icon. This is a handy feature because points of interests are also displayed on the map, allowing you to plan your outing accordingly. The Info tab displays the local weather and nearby businesses. The More tab provides options to save the destination as a favorite, change the route profile, add more destinations to your route and even send the destination information to someone else via e-mail.

Ever wanted to know the coordinates to Chipotle? NAVIGON has got you covered!

Ever wanted to know the coordinates to Chipotle? NAVIGON has got you covered!

After making all your adjustments, tap the Start Navigation button on the top right of the screen. Depending on your destination, the next page allows you to choose from multiple route options (with each option displaying the mileage and estimated minutes to arrival). Simply tap on the tabs on the bottom of the screen to view the different route options. Once you’ve chosen your preferred route, again tap the Start Navigation button.

Selecting from multiple route options is useful if you're familiar with the different routes.

Selecting from multiple route options is useful if you're familiar with the different routes.

The Map

Now that everything is set up, you’re ready to do some driving. From hence forth, the majority of your interaction with NAVIGON will be with the map. I’ve tried out some of the highest rated, lower priced GPS apps and I can honestly say that NAVIGON’s map outshines them all. The ability to distinguish my route when viewing the map is probably the most important aspect of using a GPS device, and the contrast between the thin white lines that designate roads and the thicker orange line that designates the route is easily distinguishable when driving.

The use of white and orange provide a great contrast when viewing the map.

The use of white and orange provide a great contrast when viewing the map.

Another nice feature is when you approach an exit or a split in the road, and NAVIGON brings up a visual to aid in distinguishing what path to follow. If you’re familiar with GPS devices, you’ll know that the voice commands can be confusing at times (usually happens when the voice command says the name of a route that’s not prominently displayed in road signage). In times like these, the visual representation of your route can mean the difference of making or missing your exit.

NAVIGON makes it easy to determine which exits you need to take.

NAVIGON makes it easy to determine which exits you need to take.

A small but great feature is lane assistant, which lets you know which lanes you should be in so you don’t miss a turn or exit. I’ve found this feature extremely useful when I’m on a multi-lane interstate and I’m passing frequent exits on the right and left.

Lane Assistant (displayed bottom-right) shows which lanes you should use to stay on-route.

Lane Assistant (displayed bottom-right) shows which lanes you should use to stay on route.

Performance

With the numerous trips I’ve made with NAVIGON, there’s one thing I can say for certain — it errors on the side of caution when providing directions. Say you’re driving on an interstate and an exit is approaching for another major highway. The map clearly shows that you will need to continue on the interstate you’re already on, but NAVIGON will still prompt you not to take the other interstate.

While this may get annoying at times (especially when listening to music or a podcast), my dealings with other GPS apps (namely Waze) have put me in situations in which I’m about to approach a split in the road and I don’t know which exit to take unless I take a moment to exam the map. This may seem like a minor annoyance, but the point of voice guidance is to refrain you from taking your eyes off the road. NAVIGON is so good at doing so that I find sometimes turning off the screen and just using voice guidance if I don’t have a charger and don’t want to drain my battery.

Bells & Whistles

A feature that was introduced in version 2.0 is Map Manager, which allows you to download that maps you really need. This is a handy feature if you’re trying to be conscious of the space available on your iPhone, but if you find yourself in a state in which you haven’t downloaded the maps, you’ll have to find yourself a Wi-Fi connection fast (you can download over 3G if you’re really in a bind, but make sure to mind your data caps).

NAVIGON provides you with the amount of space remaining on your device, which can help with your map selection decisions.

NAVIGON provides you with the amount of space remaining on your device, which can help with your map selection decisions.

NAVIGON also offers paid add-ons to provide a better driving experience, which include live traffic updates, a panorama 3D view, radar info and frequent map updates (you’ll still be provided map updates if not purchased, but won’t receive them as often). While I can’t personally recommend any of these services, you may find them useful.

Some of the add-ons are a bit pricey, but can also be extremely useful depending on your travel habits.

Some of the add-ons are a bit pricey, but can also be extremely useful depending on your travel habits.

Conclusion

After spending some time away from NAVIGON and using Waze, TeleNav, MapQuest and GPS Navigation 2 for a few trips each, it became clear that while these inexpensive alternatives served their functions well, they simply aren’t on the same level. Waze is a really good service, offering social interaction that NAVIGON simply doesn’t have, but at the end of the day the voice guidance wasn’t on par with NAVIGON.

Ultimately, this isn’t a purchase you should take lightly. If you’re someone that does a good deal of traveling, this is a great app to have installed on your iPhone; but if you’re someone that only travels once in awhile, a lower cost alternative may be more your speed. However, if the price tag is a concern but really want to give NAVIGON a go, the App Store offers multiple app options that range in price (ranging from $30-40). This is a good alternative if you live in a region of the U.S. and don’t really do any traveling across the country, and if you need maps from the other regions, they can be purchased in-app.


Summary

A featured packed GPS app that will get you to wherever you need to go.

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