Talking, Turn-by-Turn Driving Directions Come to the iPhone

By  |  Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm

The iPhone 3.0 app goodness continues  roll in. An iPhone version of AT&T’s Navigator turn-by-turn GPS driving directions app is live in Apple’s App Store. It’s one of several navigation apps that have already appeared in the week since iPhone OS 3.0’s arrival. (The most eagerly-awaited one, though, is probably from TomTom–and it’s not due until later this summer.)

Navigator is powered by GPS stalwart TeleNav, and worked reasonably well as I used it on my iPhone 3GS while tooling around the Bay Area today. I was worried that it might not work as well as a dedicated GPS handheld, since early scuttlebutt had it that the iPhone 3G had a wimpy antenna. (I spent $150 on TomTom’s Windows Mobile version for my AT&T Tilt phone, and while the software was great the Tilt wasn’t much better at figuring out where it was than I am. And I have a cruddy sense of direction.)

Navigator had no problem keeping up with me even at 60mph. It has decent search for addresses and businesses, live traffic updates, and a bunch of other features that my current GPS system (a five-year-old one built into my Mazda3) lacks. However, it works only in portrait mode as far as I can tell–I wish it also offered a more windshield-mimicking landscape view. And the quality of its spoken directions was surprisingly muffled, which occasionally left me straining to understand them.

If you’re serious about using Navigator or any other GPS application for the iPhone, there’s no doubt that you’re going to want some sort of mounting system that pumps its audio through your car’s stereo and provides power–otherwise, the phone will be too hard to see and too hard to hear, and its battery will be drained in a jffy. Devices of that sort already exist, and TomTom plans to sell one as an option for its software.

AT&T being AT&T, it’s selling Navigator as a service, not a program–typical for phone GPS (although one of the benefits of getting the Palm Pre and paying for Sprint’s $99 voice and data plan is that it comes with driving directions). Navigator is $9.99 a month. I’d really like the option of paying a one-time fee. (Especially since I’m most likely to need this software when I’m on the road for business or pleasure in a rent-a-car.)

Bottom line: Navigator’s not bad, but I’ll wait until TomTom’s out before I decide which GPS application will live on my iPhone.  After the jump, a few screens of the AT&T product in action.

AT&T Navigator

AT&T Navigator

AT&T Navigator


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. gianpo Says:

    You know you can cancel and renew the
    $10.00 subscription any time you want. So basically you can look at it as renting a gps unit whenever you go on a trip just pay $10.00 for the month of the trip then cancel the service then next trip reinstate the service.

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    @gianpo–Good point, thanks, and reasonably priced if you look at it that way. (Assuming I remember to cancel!)


  3. Dave Zatz Says:

    Can you enter destinations by voice? I’ve been doing that on my loaner E71x running Telenav and it’s pretty cool.

  4. gianpo Says:

    @Dave Zatz
    Yes you can enter a destination by voice but it’s weird you push a button that says call it it calls a phone# you tell it the address and when you hang-up it goes back into the app and the address you said will be on the screen and you can choose to save it or drive to.

  5. Geoff Says:

    As of now, I don’t think a single navigation app is available to Canadians. What’s the holdup?

  6. Psychic Hotlines Says:


    Just found your blog on Technorati & Digg upcomming news feeds and read a few of your other posts.
    ISeems good contents,Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.


  7. Verizon iPhone Says:

    Interesting article. The article took a lot of thought, which makes reading it more interesting. I may return and take a look at what else you have to write.

  8. Ajay Says:

    Interesting article . is there any source code for this for iphone

  9. Jeremy Hughes Says:

    With iOS 4, there are many other GPS system apps in the App store now. Most of them work pretty well. With the iPhone 4s, we can see even better performance coming out of these GPS apps.

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