First Look: AT&T Navigator for iPhone


Now that iPhone/iPod Touch OS 3.0 is out, we are seeing a number of navigation apps appear.  Add to that mix AT&T Navigator, from Telenav – a title that also appears on a variety of handsets (with GPS support) out there.  Dan and I will be taking an in-depth look at this product in a review very soon, but here are a few first impressions we had:


AT&T Navigator is pretty straight forward navigation implementation – not too many bells and whistles, but a few things do stand out.  They include a nice traffic implementation, as well as a easy search for the lowest gas prices in the area.


My initial sense, running on an iPhone 3G was that the main navigation screen is a little laggy at times – sometimes it was 2-3 seconds behind my actual position.

Dan– I didn’t experience this delay at all on my iPhone 3GS. Actually, I have been super-impressed by the app over-all. I downloaded it fully intending to try it out and then cancel the service but I had such an impressive experience with it guiding me to a wedding in Brooklyn that I’ll likely be keeping it.  I loved the way it quickly rerouted me when I intentionally made a wrong turn.


I also noted that the app didn’t prevent the screen from dimming/shutting off even when it was set to do so.  That’s a small bug that I hope would be easily fixed.

Dan- I didn’t have this issue at all. I’m not sure what settings we differ on but we clearly have it set up differently somehow.

I’ve done a little further testing and I have confirmed the settings are correct so I do believe it’s a bug – maybe due to possible differences in how the 3G and 3GS handle sleep?

I am also seeing a problem, which I also see reported on the App Store reviews, of voice distortion.  It isn’t severe, but it is noticeable.

Dan- I’ve been running the sound through the car stereo using my Jabra SP700 and find the voice quality to be just fine. I suspect that when using the iPhone in this way having something to boost the sound rather than just hearing from the speakerphone on the device would be helpful.

We both have an initial concern, in general, about this kind of application relying on a data connection to function.  What happens when you lose the data connection, but your GPS is still functioning.  Shouldn’t you still be able to navigate?

Dan- thus far this is the big issue I have seen with the service. On the one hand not having it on the device means it loads quickly and the maps can quickly and easily be up-to-date but when using it last week on the way to our lake house the app stopped whenever the data connection went cold. That’s a potentially fatal flaw.


My initial reaction overall is that the app does a reasonable job of navigating from point A to point B as long as a data connection is also present.  How it will perform in areas with a poor data connection remains to be seen.   I like the app, but I suspect more feature-rich applications will be available in the short run.

Dan- My initial impression is that I will use it until a good resident app comes out. When one does, however, it is an open question as to which I will use. I love the fact that there is no up-front cost but the reliance on a data connection is a huge issue.

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About the Author

Christopher Gavula
Chris has been a COBOL programmer, a desktop support technician, network engineer, telecommunications manager, and even a professional musician. Currently, he is focused on deploying Voice over IP technologies in a large, corporate setting. He started working full-time at the tender age of 14, even before there were PCs, and will probably be working and trying to finish “just one more project” as he’s lowered into the grave.

6 Comments on "First Look: AT&T Navigator for iPhone"

  1. There is a known bug in iPhone OS 3.0 on 3G devices where the “idle timer disabled” property doesn’t work.

  2. Christopher Gavula | July 6, 2009 at 12:14 pm |

    Thanks Alex! I’m not a developer so I did not know that, but it certainly confirms my suspicion about a bug – but in the OS, not the app. The 3GS doesn’t seem to have this difficulty.

  3. When you lose the data connection, you will still be able to navigate, but when you “run out of map data”, all your’re going to get is the butterfly TeleNav background with your route line in front of you. It may curve as it follows the road (due to satelite navigation/tracking), but you won’t have an active map. So, you should be able to stay on route, but don’t go off, or you’ll have trouble getting back on route.

    This happened to me last year when trying to compare Google Maps on the 3G to my Tilt and AT&T Navigator out in the Boonies here in IL. I’ve experienced this first hand…

  4. Christopher Gavula | July 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm |

    So far – it doesn’t seem to download much map data so that’s going to happen very quickly.

  5. I’m not sure what trigger the app sends out to the server to send more data; but you’d think they would have a handle on this, and that it would be from a centralized server (the same one that handles all other AT&T Navigator routing for all other devices/OS’). Not sure what the issue might be…

  6. I am curious to hear more about telenav’s routes vs garmin vs google maps. I gave up on Telenav after it sent me on a horribly convoluted route through NYC vs my garmin.

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