Navigon - Notes on use - Tips & Tricks

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by m3coolpix, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. m3coolpix macrumors 6502a


    Dec 24, 2007

    The following are my notes (and some tips) on using Navigon. I’ve used it almost everyday since a day after it’s release, as well as reading and responding to posts here at MacRumors. It’s by no means complete or a representative case of everyone’s experience. But I hope it helps someone with using/appreciating Navigon for what I believe it is. A very capable and usable TBT navigation app, especially for a v1.0 software release. I look forward to it’s updates.

    iPhone Software:

    iPhone #1: 16gb 3GS - Software Revision 3.0, Purchased Navigon the day after it was released. iPhone is also Jailbroken via purplera1n, jailbroken apps: Winterboard, SBSettings, Backgrounder, iBlacklist, Reminder, OpenSSH. No other Cydia apps. No cracked apps at all. Wouldn’t be jailbroken if those above apps were available via the App Store. I’d gladly pay for them.

    iPhone #2: 16gb 3G - Software Revision 3.0.1, not Jailbroken

    Car/Case Setup:

    iPhone #1: SwitchEasy Capsule NEO case sometimes, sometimes with no case, Kensington Car Mount for iPod, Kensington LiquidAUX Car Kit for iPhone/iPod. Used both in a VW Passat and Ford F250.

    iPhone #2: Speck ToughSkin case always, Kensington Car Mount for iPod, XtremeMAC car charger. Used both in a Saturn 300 and a large RV.

    Areas used:

    iPhone #1: Throughout the Dallas Fort Worth and Houston Texas downtown/metroplex areas, as well as cities in between, and Texas rural areas.

    iPhone #2: Throughout southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi urban and rural areas

    User's Experience:

    iPhone #1 user (me), very experienced user, had 2G, 3G and 3GS iPhones since August of 2007. Have MobileMe account tied to my iPhone.

    iPhone #2 user (my dad, 72 years young) very new iPhone user (gave him my old 3G iPhone when I upgraded to the 3GS).

    Entering Destinations:

    I’ve found that the easiest way to enter a destination is to have it in my Contacts list. Sometimes when you try to find a POI or a street address in Navigon, it may not be in the database. Perfect example of this is a local Apple Store that Navigon couldn’t find, also did not recognize the address. So, I headed over to Maps to search directly for that Apple store and address. Saved it as a contact. Switched over to Navigon, chose that contact from the contact list, and immediately recognized it and started the route. The whole process took less time than it did for me to type this, or about a minute. No big deal. If I don’t want the contact in my Contacts list anymore after using, I just delete it. With my MobileMe account, it’s instantly deleted across my MBP and the MobileMe contacts list (web version).

    Navigon is supposedly updating this part of the software in an upcoming release, so no worries from me on POI’s and addresses. I don’t want all the clutter of POIs, and will probably turn that feature off when Navigon enables the option. I rarely travel to areas where I don’t already know the POIs, or I’ve done that investigation ‘elswhere’ (Google or Maps for example). I don’t expect my TBT navigation software to know this information. ‘There’s a app for that’ :).

    Battery Life:

    This is going to vary greatly for everyone. 3GS iPhone #1 is new. From a 100% charge, Navigon works for me almost 1.5 to 2 hours on battery. The 3G iPhone is a year old, and gets 1 to 1.5 hours of Navigon use on battery. That being said, we’re both almost always using Navigon with the car chargers plugged in. Just makes sense.

    GPS Signal issues:

    One note for both of us, we’ve found that if we mount the iPhone in the window mount BEFORE starting Navigon, it really helps with Navigon having little to no GPS signal issues. Starting Navigon and entering all the destinations/setups is always done while the iPhones are in a window mount.

    If you are having signal issues, see the Navigon FAQ page. Like has been mentioned before, those who follow those steps and recommendations, rarely see GPS signal issues anymore. I’ll also point out that both iPhone’s that we are using Navigon on were restored as a new iPhones, then my 3GS iPhone was actually synced again in iTunes using a ‘restore from a previous backup’ of my old 3G iPhone.

    In using iPhone #1 without a case, it is definitely faster for acquiring the GPS signal. I can’t ever remember seeing it have the dreaded ‘Simulation Mode’ or red bar across the top, when the iPhone is in the window mount. Don’t recall it ever ‘dropping’ the GPS signal either. Using with the Capsule NEO case on it (almost always now), it takes a 2-6 seconds to lock on the initial signal. I’ve seen it lose the signal twice with the case on it, in the window mount, with clear open sky. Both times it re-locked within 10 seconds. Last week I went to a drive through car wash with Navigon running and in the window mount. We don’t have many tunnels in our area, so this is a similar test. Needless to say it lost the signal as I entered the car wash building. As I exited about 2 minutes later, I was watching to see how long it would take to reacquire. It did it as soon as the window was out from under the building, even before the car wash was finished. Pretty impressive to me.

    With iPhone #2 (the 3G), GPS signal experiences are very similar. I’m not in front of that iPhone while Navigon is being used, so I can’t watch how fast it reacts. That being said, my dad rarely mentions issues with the GPS signal, once he got the Kensington window mount. Questions seem to relate to the interface and use, but those have mostly disappeared also since he’s been using it awhile now.


    Routing for us has been pretty spot on. I’ve got the settings to use car profile, the fastest route, and with all other options to ‘avoid’. Most of the routes I’ve used for 20+ years in the north Texas area are 99% identical to the routes that Navigon chooses. The difference is I sometimes know about construction zones or other little traffic hot spots. In the DFW area, nothing can beat one of our local AM radio stations for updating traffic. They do traffic/weather every 10 minutes, from 5am to 8pm every weekday, even more frequently if it is a ‘breaking news’ item. I don’t think, at least for where I’m at, any TBT navigation software is ever going to be able to keep up with that, and I really don’t expect it to.

    Routing is highly subjective to the maps data AND to how you choose to setup the route 'choices'. So, this part of any TBT navigation routing's software can vary, and will. Change from 'car' mode to 'bicycle' mode, and of course, the routes are going to change.

    ReCalculating Routes:

    I’ve purposely done some things while using Navigon to cause recalculation of routes. Missing a turn, not following the exact route given, etc. Recalculation is always pretty quick, Navigon usually recognizes that I’ve missed a turn or whatever in 50-200 feet of it happening, and it very quickly recalculates. Of course speed of travel plays a role, as the faster I’m traveling, the more it may affect the distance. Recalculation has never made me miss an exit or turn.

    When a phone call (or other app) interrupts:

    If I’ve backgrounded Navigon (using Backgrounder, the jailbroken app), Navigon hardly ever misses route recalculation or announcing directions. But, if Navigon is running normally (like on an unjailbroken iPhone), it may take 3-10 seconds to ‘catch up’ to the distance travelled since the app (Navigon) was last active. There’s no way around this as Apple makes Navigon ‘shut down’ when a phone call comes in, or if you actually use another app on the phone. But, as soon as you hang up, Navigon goes back to work as quickly as it can. It sometimes may give erroneous directions as it tries to remember where it was versus where it is now. Again, I don’t see how any navigation software is going to get around this until Apple allows true background operation. This is about the only way that Navigon (or any TBT app that currently exists under Apple’s rules) is going to behave. If you need to be constantly on the phone AND have immediate TBT assistance, then tranferring TBT functionality to your phone may not be the experience you want.

    Navigon also seems to have a ‘remember state’. For example, if I’m using Navigon, then change to using Safari for a couple of minutes, then back to Navigon, it remembers the operation state it was in, and what it was doing. I don’t have to reset it up for Navigation. Nice.

    Navigon software 'quirks and/or bugs':

    Volume control in the settings of Navigon doesn’t track what volume settings are done via the up/down buttons on the side of the iPhone (the up/down buttons are actually changing the RINGER). You have to manually slide in the settings to change app volume (if you want to change it there). Also, changing the volume of Navigon’s spoken commands via the side up/down buttons are limited to only being able to change the app’s volume when announcements are being made, or ‘very close to’ before or after an announcement is being made. In other words, if Navigon is ‘quiet’ for awhile, and you press the up/down volume for example, you are actually changing the iPhone’s RINGER volume, not Navigon’s APP volume. Lastly, if you use the iPhone's mute/vibrate switch, this will cause Navigon to NOT make any announcements. These quirks are mentioned because it has caused confusion for some.

    Day/Night mode is not automatic. You have to choose which mode you want. Navigon defaults to day mode. Would be nice if the app could auto detect. But not a big deal to me.

    Text (street names) is difficult to read while in daytime mode. Much easier to read the street names in night mode, during night time. Night mode doesn’t really look right to me for daytime use. I’m hopeful they’ll fix this in an update.


    Both iPhones are working with no ‘major’ issues. There's a few quirks of course, but nothing that causes any 'pain' to using the app. Everything can be worked around or fixed in software. What I mean by this is there is not even a hint of regret for purchasing Navigon, or usability issue that really makes us want to purchase another TBT app. That doesn't mean we won't follow the other manufacturer's products release and updates. If something comes out (or gets updated to being) better, reasonably priced, then all bets off for switching to the latest greatest TBT app.

    I’m sure I’ve left things out. This was meant as more of a 'how I use Navigon' rather than a 'Review' comparing it to other available apps. I’ll update as I continue using Navigon or am requested to on specific points. So please feel free to ask specific questions or add comments. Hope this helps someone.
  2. robpow macrumors regular


    Feb 10, 2007
    Very good summary. My experience is almost exactly the same, only I don't have an unlocked phone, only a stock 3G.

    Used Navigon on a 2500 mile road trip and the only niggles were when the iPhone couldn't see the satellites as I had it mounted at the bottom of the dashboard. Moving it up closer to the windscreen always fixed.

    The biggest issues with satnav on the iPhone are power supply and mounting with good visibility of the sky. If you can arrange that in your car you'll be just fine.

  3. ksmith80209 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2007
    Nice summary. One thing I've noticed is that the POI system has a few oddities. Although people have mentioned that POIs are missing - I think it's just that the search is messed up. For example, if I search statewide in Colorado for Alderfer park, nothing shows up. If I search for Alderfer park in Evergreen Colorado - bam - there it is. Very strange that is won't show statewide but will for a city specific search.

    You might want to try different search parameters on your POI search to see if the POI is really and truly missing.
  4. kate-willbury macrumors 6502a

    Feb 14, 2009
    just curious, are you leaving the switcheasy capsule neo on the iphone when you use it with the kensington liquidaux mount? i have the same mount but am having a hard time finding cases that will fit the mount without having to buy them first.
  5. mhuntoon macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2009
    I was going to hold out for the Tom Tom app, but like many here I'm getting tired of waiting and not especially the things I'm hearing rumored (yes, I know, they're just rumors but Tom Tom hasn't done anything to dispell them in terms of giving actual info so it's all we've got for now).

    Before I do, however, I'd like to ask a couple of quick questions from those who already have it:

    1. I own two iPhones (one for me, one for my wife) and we share an iTunes account. Will we be able to share this app on both phones for the single price of $70?
    2. I have installed one of those skins (whole body) over each phone and we have those gel type cases on them. Will either of these affect the quality of the signal or is it only the hard cases that sometimes cause the problems I've read about?
    3. If I mount my iPhone to a vent on the dash, will this be high enough to get a good signal or will I need to use a windshield mount to keep a steady signal?

  6. m3coolpix thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 24, 2007
    1. Yes. This is working for me with 2 family members on my account. I know the app store developers hate this most likely, but it's part of the app store deal they signed up for....
    2. Should work OK.
    3. If the vent has a clear view to the sky.
  7. philgilder macrumors 68000

    Sep 30, 2007
    1. Yes, thats fine
    2. they shouldn't affect the signal - only metal should interfere...
    3. depends on the car. it may be ok, but a windshield mount will be better

    EDIT: or see post above :)
  8. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    1, done on my 3g and 3gs without an issue
    2, yes
    3, yes that's fine
  9. SWISSHAT macrumors member


    Jul 23, 2009
    Navigon GPS signal sucks big time inside auto

    I hate to post this, but Navigon GPS signal sucks big time, inside Auto.

    I mounted it on a Belkin Tunebase FM X, and compared the signals with the iPhone original GPS app, and some other GPS apps.

    Navigon cannot even locate a signal, while others locked on in less than 10 seconds.
    Even when the rare occasions when Navigon locks onto a satelite, it is surely display the No-GPS redband every few seconds (long period of no-signal, and short burst of signal time).
    I tried the FAQ on the website, reset everything etc...this does not work, and this cannot be.

    If you want auto-routing and maps, don't buy Navigon.
    If you are walking with Navigon, it is possible to use this Lite FOC version.

    That is my honest review. I think the other users who posted good reviews here are over-optimistic!
    Anyway, who will pay over $100 for this app? not me. $100 can buy me a Garmin.
  10. NightStorm macrumors 68000

    Jan 26, 2006
    Whitehouse, OH
    It works fine in my auto, mounted on the dash of my CRV with a holder from I don't think "good reviews" are over-optimistic, I think it is more a case of everyone's car/placement/case is different and all of these affect the GPS signal from the iPhone.

    Personally, I have never had a red bar while driving with my iPhone mounted on my dash and Navigon running. However, if I try to hold it on my lap or the center console, it will appear occasionally.
  11. vertigo235 macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2009
    Sounds like you have a problem with your phone, works great for me.
  12. ksmith80209 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2007
    That hasn't been my experience. For me, it's never failed to lock in and hold a lock in 30 sec or less (far faster than say, Hertz NeverLost).
  13. m3coolpix thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 24, 2007
    The original 'immediate' email sent by The MR server's that SWISSHAT posted was worded a bit differently than what it is edited to now...I'm not going to cut n paste it, that's rude, and too easily altered. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to reply in time to quote it.

    I'll leave it at the fact that I do not work for Navigon, Naviteq, nor am in any way affiliated with the GPS software/hardware industry. I can't vouch for the other MR members, but I highly doubt that MRs has been infiltrated by that industry.

    However, based on the original unedited post, user name & join date....something kinda smells.
  14. sjdigital macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2008
    The Caucasus
    Good summary, m3coolpix. My experience (with a 3G) agrees with pretty much everything you have said. However there are a couple of bugs I'd like to see fixed.

    VolumeThis is a bit of a bugbear for me. I can find no connection whatsoever between the hardware buttons on the side of the iPhone and the volume of the navigation instructions. I can only adjust volume via the slider control in the App. I have my iPhone set up to play music through my car audio system so I use the App volume control to set the balance between navigation instructions and music from the iPod and then control overall volume via the car audio system. With v 1.1.0 (which is what we have in Europe) Navigon lowers the iPod volume each time a route instruction is given which is a nice touch. But (and there's always a but), if you don't want to hear any navigation instructions, there is no mute switch and the only way to avoid hearing the dulcet tones of the nice lady is to turn the App volume all the way down which has the unintended effect of still lowering the iPod volume each time an instruction would have been given even though you can't actually hear it!

    Night mode I agree that this should have an option of automatically switching to night mode when it gets dark.

    Setting a destination The major weakness that I have found is that if the data base can't recognise exactly where your destination is by its address, e.g. a farm house up a long rural road, there is no way to fine tune it by locating the general location via its address and then identifying the exact location on the map and then setting it as the destination as you can do with most regular sat nav devices. While using Maps and Contacts will work in some cases, this method still doesn't allow any revision or correction of the destination location on the map. The only workaround that I can find is, instead of starting with 'Enter an Address' use 'Show Map' and then zoom in to the exact spot that you wish to travel to. You can then pin this (adjusting if necessary) and set it either as your destination or as a favourite. This fine tune adjustment should be an option when entering an address as it's much easier to find the general location by its address than by zooming in on the map.

    And to be honest, if these three issues were addressed I can think of nothing else I'd want from the App. And let's not forget that the data in the maps is the responsiblity of Navteq, not Navigon, so any device using Navteq maps will likely have the same idiosyncracies.

    And while I haven't used the App a great deal, when I have the iPhone has consistently held the GPS signal and recalculates the route in a perfectly respectable time. Frankly I reckon it's a stunning piece of kit and being able to have my phone, my music and my navigation system in a single device that slips into my pocket when I leave the car is awesome. I simply can't imagine anything taking its place in the foreseeable future.
  15. m3coolpix thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 24, 2007

    Yeah, the volume thing needs to be addressed. It shouldn't be tough, I've seen this in some of the radio player apps in their early versions. Hopeful on that one getting fixed in an update, but I've got it working per my description. Still frustrating sometimes.

    I wonder why we can't just directly enter latitude/longitude? Then, just navigate roads as normal to get you close to that spot. I also have to find (every now and then) rural roads and addresses in Nowhere, Texas that are tough to navigate to. The homeowner's directions involve 'drive 20 miles down xyz road, take a right on the dirt road, then then when you see the the white fence, find the gate and call me'..... NO kidding on that. :eek:
  16. virx macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2009
    I have no problems at all with GPS signal using windshield mount, it picks up signal much better than my one year old Tom Tom in the same mount. Overall very pleased with this purchase. And no, i am not affiliated with any GPS and iphone development businesses :D.
  17. pmbooks macrumors regular


    May 23, 2005
    Thanks for that. Now I really wish someone would do the same overview for g-map—I'm having a heck of a time figuring it out—and an objective (read, not "g-map is crap" sort of attitude) comparison would be nice. The two apps do look similar enough to warrant it.
  18. MadEric macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2009
    I think I'm the only one with this Navigon problem

    I concur pretty much with everything posted so far about the Navigon product (its GPS is more accurate than my standalone Garmin)... but one odd thing that is really killing the experience for me is that my Navigon doesnt remember my favourites. I load up the device and sometimes they're remembered, but most often they're gone and its blank.. does the same for trying to find my house.. always forgets it.... my settings seem to stay remembered, just these 2 areas.... hard reboots dont seem to help either.. havent read this being an issue with anyone else.
  19. studio¹³¹ macrumors 6502


    Jul 31, 2009
    i just purchased the app and it works like it should for me (san diego, ca), havent had any real problems yet. im not sure if anyone else has had this issue, but my car mount is mounted in a landscape mode. when in the car dock and the app is started landscape, navigon wont recognize and stay in a portrait mode -- you have to launch in portrait and then rotate for navigon to recognize? i close navigon and launch other programs such as mail, safari, etc and they all recognize the phones orientation instantly. not such a big deal to launch the app, rotate, then put it into the mount -- but when receiving a phone call and then returning back to navigate, the stupid map gets put back into portrait mode and i have to remove and start the landscape / portrait process all over...


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