New Year’s App Solutions: Travel more with Navigon

Sections: Features, Hands On / First Looks, iDevice Apps, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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Not all New Year’s resolutions need to be laborious to accomplish. Bettering yourself isn’t always about sacrifice and major lifestyle changes, after all. Sometimes, it’s just about hopping into the car and finding someplace new. And if you’re going to want to do that, you’re going to want to take Navigon with you.


Now, I know what you’re all saying; “But Hiner, why would I pay for a turn-by-turn navigation app when I’ve got both Google Maps and Apple’s Map app available to me for free. Well, honestly, because they’re free.

Look…Apple’s not in the business of making navigation apps. That doesn’t mean they won’t eventually do a fantastic job of it, just that their business model doesn’t depend on it. Same for Google, who are mainly in the business of collecting information about you and selling it to advertisers.

Also, you get what you pay for. With Navigon, you’re getting the expertise of Garmin, a company that has been handling this sort of thing a lot longer than most of the competition, so you know you can rely on them. You also get multiple price points in case budget is a major concern. In the U.S., prices start at $22.99 for specific regions (east, west, central), bump up to $39.99 for the entire U.S., and max out at $44.99 for all of North America. Not too bad, really. And recently, Garmin has chanced the way Navigon updates are handled. Before, you had to download every state in your price plan, which took a lot of time and storage space. Now, you need only grab the states you’ve activated. For instance, I have North America, but I only update Ohio because that’s where I do almost all of my driving. If I know I’m going to need more, I activate those updates, too.

NavigonBut Navigon offers plenty more than just accurate turn-by-turn navigation. You can set it up for walking directions, for locating points of interest, and for emergency help. You can program specifically what restaurants, gas stations, etc. you want to have pop up in the display as you’re driving down the highway (and how far off course you’re willing to drive to reach them). You can set up Navigon to alert you when you’re exceeding the speed limit, and you can adjust how high over the speed limit you want it to let you go for both highway and city driving.

There are additional in-app purchases available, too, that enhance the experience. Perhaps the most useful of these is Traffic LIVE ($13.99) which detects traffic jams ahead and reroutes you before you hit them. The accuracy will vary depending upon your region, however. Panorama View 3D ($7.99) shows you the terrain of the area in which you’re driving. You can also grab add-ons such as USA Speedcams ($4.99) in case that speed warning isn’t doing you any good, ZAGAT content so you can learn about the restaurants Navigon is finding for you, and much more.

NavigonEven if you don’t spend this additional money, you’re still getting a clear, easy-to-read display that does a great job of shifting to show you exactly where you need to be. It doesn’t just tell you when you need to exit a highway, for example, it uses a feature called Lane Assistant Pro to show you exactly where you need to be hit the exit.

Navigon offers plenty of other small features that you may find handy, as well, including newly added iCloud, Foursquare and Glympse integration. Oh, and one other thing I love about Navigon is that it uses your iPhone’s GPS sensor, naturally, to determine your location. In other words, if you’re lost in the deep woods where the best connection you can get is Edge (or even no connection at all), you’ll still get the driving information you need to avoid becoming the plot of Wrong Turn 6. The maps are already in your phone’s memory, so there’s nothing to download as you travel along (unless you cross a state border into a region you haven’t yet downloaded).

If your navigation needs are limited to the occasional trip to a friend’s wedding, fine. Maps, Google Maps, and some of the other free or low cost options may do the trick. But if you’re doing some serious traveling in 2013 and want to take advantage of the capabilities of a full-featured navigation app, Navigon is easily the way to go.

Product [Navigon]

Read more New Year’s App Solutions.

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  • lean6rtj2

    Those price points are an awful long way from free. I just lost signal.

    • Kirk Hiner

      Fair enough, but like I said…if you’re willing to spend the money, Navigon is absolutely worth it. I don’t regret owning it, and you’d never catch me using Maps or Google Maps in its place.

  • Beta Virus

    Wait until you upgrade your phone or iPad and have to re-purchase the app. Not worth the first price I paid and no way I am paying them again. Customer Service also sucks.
    Don’t buy or support this app!

    • Kirk Hiner

      Can’t comment on customer service, but out of curiosity, what did you upgrade? I moved from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5 and didn’t have to repurchase the app. I had to reinstall it on the iPhone 5 to bypass a bug that wouldn’t let me enter an address, but that was free.