Price: $9.99 per month, one-month free trial.
- Full-on, turn-by-turn navigation for the T-Mobile G1 and future Android OS phones
- Automatic map and points-of-interest updates
- Connectivity enables search, weather, traffic avoidance, My TeleNav
- Must buy mount separately if you want to car-mount
- Speech recognition needs work
This is an exciting time for smartphone development: These devices are more like mini-mobile computers than phones. Integration of GPS navigation and location based services is one of the more intriguing uses of the smartphone platform. I recently had the opportunity to road test one of the hottest smartphones on the market, the T-Mobile G1, with TeleNav's GPS Navigator software installed.
Most touchscreen smartphones have built-in GPS and maps, but quality, turn-by-turn navigation capability has been scarce. In fact, GPS Navigator is the first turn-by-turn nav software for Google's Android operating system.
TeleNav is a premier provider of nav services on mobile devices, and the company has been supporting multiple devices under a wide range of carriers.
Hands-on With GPS Navigator for the G1
So how does GPS Navigator stack up on the G1? Let's start with installation. At the time of this review, users must visit TeleNav's G1 site for a free download of the software, but the app should also soon be available for free directly from the Android app store within the phone's menu system. It's a 1.6-meg download, so it's best if you are connected to Wi-Fi when you download the software.
Once installed, the app presents a menu screen that looks good and works well in either the portrait or landscape screen modes. Options include "Drive To," "Search," "Maps & Traffic," and "Tools & More."
You may use the touchscreen or the G1's tiny, clickable trackball to make selections. The drive-to menu includes features we've come to expect from full-on nav applications, including favorites, recent places, address, business, etc. When you select a category, you are given the option of typing or speaking the search terms. I had mixed results with the spoken directions option, and more often resorted to typing in my search. No one has really nailed speech input yet, so I can't be too critical of this shortcoming.
The search option also includes the type-or-speak option. You may search by category, or by proximity to current location. When you identify your destination, you may select drive-to for turn-by-turn directions including text-to-speech, map it, or save to favorites.
Turn-by-turn Directions and Traffic
TeleNav GPS Navigator's turn-by-turn directions are as good as you'd expect from a dedicated in-car portable GPS device. There are some disadvantages to receiving them through a smartphone, however. A car gps comes with a windshield suction mount and power port charger - not so with the G1. However, you can purchase a car mount for smartphones through Arkon, so that can be addressed. The G1's speaker is just loud enough, when cranked to full volume, to provide clearly audible directions in a moving car. And that's mostly how I used the application - by listening to the directions and only occasionally glancing at the map.
Nav features include moving map, automatic route recalculation, fuel prices, Wi-Fi locator, and traffic alert and re-route. One nice feature: You can set up your commuting route in your "my stuff" file and have the phone automatically alert you delays (and automatically re-route around delays).
Connectivity Features and the G1
Since TeleNav GPS Navigator is a connected service, map and points of interest database updates happen automatically without any action on your part (or cost, beyond your monthly subscription) required.
Connectivity also comes into play with a link to the My TeleNav site, which lets you send addresses to your phone directly as you browse the Web.
Connectivity also enables a nice, real-time weather utility, and the real-time traffic alerts.T-Mobile G1
The T-Mobile G1 proved to be a pleasure to use, and there are many free apps for it within the Android app store right on the phone. I got hooked on "Twitroid" for keeping tabs on Twitter, The Weather Channel for weather, plus the phone's e-mail capability, and QWERTY keyboard. The Web browser is also competent and easy to use. The G1's sharp touchscreen complements GPS Navigator's capabilities.
Overall, the G1 and TeleNav's GPS Navigator provide a cutting edge smartphone/GPS experience that puts a lot of mobile nav power and information into the palm of your hand.