The Navigon Mobile Navigator [iTunes link] has become my favorite GPS app for the car. Great graphics, text-to-speech, auto night mode, and traffic integration.
Today, Navigon dropped the price 30 dollars to U.S. $59.99 and added Google search. That's a great idea, because the self contained GPS apps have static databases that tend to age quickly. Navigon solved that problem by integrating a Google search to their app, which gives you the advantages of on-board maps coupled with the most up to date POI information.
That's the good news. The bad news [see update note at the bottom of this post] is this first integration of Google into the app is an utter bomb. I selected POI from the menu, then Google. I then typed in 'pizza' and hit search. The query returned a 'no POI in your area' message, yet I was about 200 yards from a Pizza Hut. I tried some other categories. Nothing. Zip. There is another field to fill in with my location, so I typed the default 'current location' as prompted by the software. Still nothing. I typed in a city name and found all kinds of Google hits, but why should I have to type in my location when this is a GPS app? I tried this at several places, and with several categories. Nothing worked unless I typed in a city name, and of course cities are big places so I wasn't getting the closest hits.
Navigating from the built in POI database worked fine, but the whole point of Google integration was more data, and more up to date information. On more than one try I saw a server error, and it had to be a problem with the app because Google Maps returned good info with no problems. I'm not the only one seeing this issue, so it's not a local error. Other users of the app are reporting the same thing.
This issue may be a temporary one, or a bad bug, but either way it is a bad start for a new feature. I'm confident Navigon will fix the problem.
Competition has forced Navigon to lower the price (until January 11th) and the app is a good buy at that price. I know a lot of people were anxious to have that Google integration, but at least for me and some others, it simply doesn't work. I've contacted the Navigon folks, but haven't heard back yet about what might be going on.
One more small issue. In the past, even though the app has iTunes integration that works well, it can't seem to find any podcasts. That's still a problem with this latest version. If you select the podcast genre, it just comes up empty handed.
We'll let you know when it these issues get fixed, but if you were waiting to buy for the Google feature you might want to wait a bit longer. If you're having problems, or if it works great for you, let us know.
Update note: The Navigon Google search now seems to be working for all users that we've checked that were having problems before, including me. Navigon indicated it was caused by some server issues that interrupted the service for some.