Last month, TUAW reported on GPS navigation vendor TeleNav's plans to launch an HTML5-based free navigation system that would work on any browser. Yesterday, TeleNav introduced Scout, which is another free personal navigation product. The new service comes with a Scout by TeleNav iPhone app (free) and a companion website (scout.me), and will soon integrate with Ford Sync-equipped vehicles.
The idea is that you can use the app across platforms for discovery of new locations and to get directions, and share the same information wherever you may be. If you use your personal computer to look up restaurants and add one to a favorites list, that list is then available on your iPhone and soon in your Ford vehicle.
It's a noble idea, and I have to admit that the app looks nice. One sweet feature of Scout is that it takes into account current traffic conditions when determining the time to your destination. The cleanly-designed Dashboard screen shows the current temperature at your location, that location is pinpointed on a strip map displaying traffic, and there's a continuous display of how long it's going to take to get from home to work or vice-versa.
The scout.me website shows a handy "beta" tag, and that's well-deserved. I ran into some problems during my initial tryout. When trying to set a default work location, the app kept defaulting to an incorrect place that is miles away from the actual spot. The app would not let me change the address, insisting that the other spot was correct.
Likewise, I had issues figuring out how to actually sync the scout.me site and my iPhone, finally resorting to asking the TeleNav PR team -- it's actually simple, and done through the Scout.me button at the bottom of the dashboard page. Tip to TeleNav -- perhaps you should have the app walk users through the sync process during the first launch.
The variety of different offerings from TeleNav is somewhat perplexing. As I mentioned, they have an HTML5 web app that's supposed to be coming soon, there's Scout and Scout.me, and then there are the Navigation By TeleNav / GPS by TeleNav apps. The AT&T Navigator app is also a TeleNav product. This kind of scattershot approach will serve to do nothing but confuse the public about what the company is trying to do in the GPS navigation app market.
A short video from TeleNav touting the service is embedded below.