Navigation-services company Telenav recently updated its Scout navigation app for iOS, and though it’s not perfect, the app is a winner.
I wish Scout was optimized for iPad, as some iOS apps are. But there’s a lot of good stuff to recommend, starting with its newly revamped home screen, which provides an overview of a map pinpointing your current location, with suggestions for nearby places to eat and drink.
Here are my three favorite Scout features, two of which are new:
Search while navigating. Once you’ve entered your destination information and started on your way, you can still search for points of interest. If you find something you like, tap to add it to your existing route. Change your mind? Just swipe to delete the extra stop from your route or tap the delete button next to the stop.
You have four search categories: Coffee, Food, Gas, and Popular, which includes chain retailers such as Safeway and Walgreens. The “search while navigating” feature makes so much sense, I have to wonder why all GPS apps don’t offer similar features.
Share ETA. At the beginning of your journey, you can tap the Share ETA button to easily send someone an email or text to tell them you’re on your way. The message will include your estimated time of arrival and a link where they can view your current location on a Scout map using a Web browser. In my tests, the feature worked well.
The app is free and gives good directions (so far). Scout isn’t the only free GPS navigation app for iOS, of course; other options include Google Maps, Apple’s Maps (which comes preloaded) and Waze (which is owned by Google).
I’ve only used Scout for a few days, but all of the directions I received have made sense. I can’t say the same for the other GPS apps I’ve used. Google Maps, for example, often tells me to head west when leaving my home, even though my destination is east. (I’ll update this post if Scout sends me off course, but so far so good.)
Scout includes sponsored listings, which sometimes don’t make sense.
For example, I tapped the “Explore” button to find businesses near my current location, then tapped “Grocery” to see a list of nearby options. At the top of the resulting list of grocery stores was a paid listing for Half Price Books in Berkeley, Calif., 12.7 miles away. Why would I care about a bookstore that far away when I’m looking for the closest grocery store?
The paid version of Scout costs $25 yearly or $5 monthly and lets you download offline maps to your iOS device. I don’t often have network coverage issues and don’t see a huge benefit to justify that expense. Despite the paid listings, I’m happy with the free version of Scout.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.