We finally got around to taking Navigon for a test drive. This is one of the first full-featured GPS navigation programs for Windows Phone that does include offline maps. Upon first launch of the application it will require you to download over a Gig’s worth of mapping data to your device. The good thing about having all the map data on the device is so that you won’t have to be taxing your internet connection while driving around. It’s also VERY good when you drive somewhere that does not have an internet connection at all. By having the maps already on the device, you’ll be able to find your way no matter what.
When this first came out we all wondered if it integrated with Bing so that you could use Local Scout or Bing Voice Search or Bing Maps to find locations and then easily press a “Navigate” button to deep link the address into Navigon for quick navigation to the location. It turns out, Navigon does not even show up in the Apps list for a location in Bing Maps. That makes it pretty difficult and kind of a pain to get an address into Navigon as a destination. However, Navigon does have some excellent features for finding destinations and points of interest itself.
One of my favorite features is the ability to pin locations to your start menu for easy access. This comes in handy if you know you’ll have to go to a few places during the day since you can plan ahead and make quick access live tiles for them.
Navigon does NOT announce turns and driving instructions when it is not running, by the way. You have to be looking at the map for it to work, however, it does support fast app switching pretty well so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to quickly switch to one app and then switch back. Music also plays at the same time as Navigon, but the voice instructions may be difficult to hear since it is not smart enough to lower the music volume a bit when the voice instructions play.
The reality viewer is an interesting augmented reality feature that shows the locations of POIs while vewing through the camera. It’s a neat feature, but certainly not something you should try to use while driving.
Overall it’s a great program to have especially if you ever drive to locations with poor cell phone reception since the offline maps will ensure that you’ll be able to get where you need to be.