AT&T Navigator

AT&T Navigator is a turn-by-turn GPS app branded by AT&T and developed by TeleNav Inc. It provides a lot of the expected GPS capabilities such as voice directions, dynamic rerouting, and map updates. Although the app itself is free, it does require a $10 monthly subscription (added on top of your monthly AT&T bill) to be used.

When you open the app you can begin navigating from your favorites (if you have any set), recent places, by typing an address, searching for a business or airport, or by specifying an intersection. You can resume a trip if one was in progress last time the app was open. Of course one of the first drawbacks that you’ll notice is that you have no access to your contacts. This means you have to type out the address. What an awesome thing to have to do while you drive!

Ok, let’s assume you’ve typed out an address and you’re on your way. You’re shown a traditional 3D map view in portrait mode with your position represented by a car. There is no landscape mode. Your next turn and street is shown along with, distance to next turn, ETA, total distance, surrounding roads, and your current street. There is no speed indicator. A summary can be shown by tapping the “Summary” button.

Directions are spoken along with the street names, although one or both of these can be disabled. If you’re playing music, the audio is paused while directions are spoken. The voice is quite bad. If you’re playing it through the car, you’ll probably be able to make it out. Otherwise it’s almost impossible.

My favorite feature of this app is that it actually uses a live database of points of interest. You can search for a business, check out the lowest local gas prices, and even find nearby Wi-Fi hot spots. You can’t add destinations within a trip though. It also uses the web to find bad traffic conditions.

Unfortunately, these great features are supplemented with suck. You can’t change preferences without ending your trip. There’s no way to make corrections or changes to the map, and it’s pretty difficult to have it avoid parts of a calculated route. If you have an iPhone 3GS, the compass is completely ignored, which means the directions aren’t as accurate as they could be. It’s also been known to be slow to track your progress. And because it uses the web, if you lose your data connection, you’re screwed.

So should you get the AT&T Navigator? Well, it’s tough to give a ruling. I really like the live POI database which other turn-by-turn apps in the store lack. I recommend giving it a try if you need a GPS app right now. Just be sure to cancel that $10 a month subscription. If you don’t absolutely need it, hold out for something better.

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