Without the voice prompt upgrade, Scout is a purely visual navigator, and does not take traffic into account. But it worked very well as long as I could clip the phone somewhere in the car where I could see it. Its turn instructions were easy to follow and shown well in advance of upcoming turns. It also shows maps in 2D or 3D views, at the driver's preference.
With the Scout Plus subscription, Scout became much more useful. In fact, I found that I began to rely on it for most navigation, even if I already knew my route. With the upgrade, it does an excellent job of integrating traffic data. Frequently I would start out on a trip, and Scout would announce that it had adjusted the route based on a traffic problem up ahead. It is quite satisfying to go cruising down a clear road, imagining that somewhere nearby is a massive jam-up.
The voice prompts made it unnecessary to put my phone up on the dashboard, as they included the names of the streets on which I would be turning. These voice prompts talked through multiple, close-together turns before I reached them, giving some advanced preparation. I was also able to turn off my iPhone's screen, saving its battery, and still hear the voice prompts.
Most people will find Scout's online requirement no problem, as the majority of navigating is done in places with a data connection. When I drove into an area with no cell reception, Scout's maps disappeared, although it did still show a line indicating my direction on the screen.
With Scout Plus, the app let me download maps for either the western, central, or eastern United States. The download required a Wi-Fi connection, so could not be done on the fly. To test the downloaded maps, I found an area without data coverage, and entered an address into Scout. I could not look up a POI, because that feature is online only. Scout found the address on the Western region map I had downloaded, and calculated the route. It could not take into account traffic without its data connection, but once I was driving through an area with coverage, Scout began recalculating based on traffic conditions.
One other feature that might keep Scout relevant once Apple's Maps app becomes generally available is its integration with the Scout.me Web site and in-car infotainment systems. The Web site is supposed to let users select destinations on their PCs and share them with the phone app. That would be useful when, for example, getting an e-mail with a physical address and pasting it into the Web site.
The other component of the Scout ecosystem, integration with cars, will have to wait until automakers implement the compatible software. Telenav has a strong working relationship with Ford, so I would expect it would be the first automaker to incorporate Scout. With full implementation, drivers should be able to find a destination using the phone app or Web site, and send it to the car's navigation system.
Scout is available for the iPhone as a free download. Voice prompts, traffic routing, and downloadable maps can be added with Scout Plus, an in-app purchase for a price of $9.99 per year. Click here to download Scout.
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