With the likely release of Apple Maps as part of iOS 6 next month, independent navigation app makers will have a tough time competing against this free, preinstalled software. But Telenav seems poised for the fight, as it made an update to its Scout navigation app for iPhone today that includes the option to download maps, making the app useful even where there is no cell phone connection.
This new version of Scout also brings in voice commands, which will mean drivers can tell it to find destinations by business name, as one example.
When we reviewed the previous version of Scout, it stood out for its excellent route guidance, as long as the free app was upgraded with the $10-per-year voice prompts. Although we have not yet seen Apple Maps' route guidance capabilities, it would do well to emulate Scout.
Scout's new downloadable-maps feature will also cost money, $10 per year, but that could still give it an edge over Apple Maps. Drivers will be able to download maps of the United States by region: Western, Central, or Eastern. With the preloaded maps, the app will still be able to show navigation even in areas with no data or cell connection.
Telenav is banking on a few other features to keep Scout relevant when Apple Maps comes out. The Scout.me Web site lets drivers find destinations on their computers and sync them with their iPhones. The company is also counting on automakers to integrate Scout into cars, so destinations could be shared between car, phone, and computer.
The newest version of Scout is available from the iTunes app store today.