Navigon MobileNavigator: GPS Comes To iPhone

Just like we heard back in June, Navigon is taking on TomTom and anyone else who dares enter the full-fledged iPhone navigation realm with its snazzy new MobileNavigator application. Released today in Apple's App Store for the North American market (the European version was released last month), the program only works with iPhone OS 3.0. Navigon claims that this app is the first on-board iPhone navigation solution from a major navigation company, and while TomTom was first to announce plans, Navigon is the first to deliver.

If you'll notice, AT&T has its own Navigation app available as well, but that one costs $9.95 per month and isn't generally as fully-featured. This app, however, weighs in at a hefty 1.29GB and features North American maps from a map leader: Navteq. MobileNavigator essentially looks like any other Navigon GPS system in terms of the user interface; the only difference is the hardware, which will obviously be either an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS. There are a few benefits to using this over some subscription app: first, the map data is stored locally, so it's retrieved much faster and doesn't require a good/fast data connection to load. Secondly, there are no extra subscription fees. You pay Navigon a one-time fee of $99.99 (or $69.99 during the promotion period which expires August 15, 2009), and then you're set for life.

The software includes many of the company's hallmark navigation functions such as Reality View Pro, Lane Assistant Pro, Speed Assistant and Day & Night Mode. It also features the firm's sophisticated map views including branded POIs along the route. We're also told that it will even add more features with software updates later this year. Egon Minar, CEO of Navigon, had this to say upon the introduction:
"By making the MobileNavigator for the iPhone available for users in North America, we are taking another major step towards the future market of GPS navigation on mobile phones. The combination of Navigon's signature navigation features with typical functions from the iPhone creates an integrated and unique experience."
Other features include automatic screen rotation when the phone is flipped, and there's even an option to navigate directly to an address from saved contacts. The biggest downfall of this isn't even Navigon's fault, but Apple's. Due to the iPhone's inability to really juggle background processes, the app will force exit each time a call comes in; afterwards, the software will attempt to pick back up from where you left off. This may not be a big deal on a huge stretch of highway, but this could certainly screw you up if you're just shuffling around downtime in a new locale. Still, this is a big step forward in terms of device convergence. No longer do you really need a dedicated GPS. Just an iPhone 3G/3GS, this software and a car charger. Happy trails!