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Magellan updates RoadMate with free traffic and iOS 4 support

It was almost exactly a year ago that I reviewed the first version of the Magellan RoadMate app for the iPhone. Over the last several months the price has dropped, and features have been added.

In the latest update of the app, released this week, RoadMate USA now fully supports multitasking and fast application switching. If you are listening to music, it fades it for voice announcements, and voice guidance continues if you switch to another app. There is also an option to pause audio, which is nice if you're listening to an audio book and the voice guidance needs to interrupt.

More value from Magellan: traffic info is now free (with a catch, see below). You won't need an in-app purchase or any kind of subscription. I consider that a big plus if you commute in an urban area. The app also allows you to share your route or points of interest via email or with another Magellan user.

In a test drive, everything functioned very well. The voice guidance is clear, and you can choose a male or female voice, as well as other languages. If you zoom out and are in 3D mode, you can see the terrain, which is a nice feature. In downtown areas of bigger cities, you get 3D renderings of major buildings.

Negatives? Well, this version has added what they call 'Location based coupons and offers.' Basically, that means ads pop up when you do a POI search. I'm not wild about this, although Magellan calls this a feature. As far as I'm concerned it is a distraction, and I don't need distractions while I am driving. You can turn this feature off, but when you do, you lose live traffic. It's not the best of trade-offs.

The Magellan app sells for US $34.99 which is a sale price until December 1. After that the price goes back to $49.99. The Magellan sale price is quite a bit cheaper than my favorite Navigon USA app, which is $49.99. Traffic is a $20 extra charge on the Navigon, bringing the app to $70.

Even so, I prefer the Navigon screens and lack of clutter in the GUI. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Navigon go on sale for the holidays too. Still, the Magellan is a lot less expensive today, works as advertised, and will get you where you need to go. If you don't mind the constant and intrusive coupons popping up, I recommend the Magellan highly. The update is free for current owners. Two other versions of the app are also on sale. The North America version is $44.99 (normally $59.99) and RoadMate Canada & Alaska is $29.99, down from the regular price of $34.99.



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iPhone

It was almost exactly a year ago that I reviewed the first version of the Magellan RoadMate app for the iPhone. Over the last several...