LAS VEGAS--Available as an iOS app in the iTunes App Store, accessible online at Scout.me, and coming soon to Ford Sync AppLink, TeleNav's new Scout service aims to help users discover and navigate to destinations whether on foot, at home, or in the car.
On the iPhone, Scout presents users with a dashboard that gives an overview of personalized, real-time commute times to work or home and shortcuts to local search and saved favorite locations. Digging deeper, the app also offers a search-and-discovery engine for finding, for example, a local bar or restaurant. User reviews are aggregated from services such as Yelp and CitySearch to help in the decision-making process. Once a destination is selected Scout is able to give turn-by-turn directions to any destination it finds using TeleNav's maps and traffic-aware routing software.
While navigating, Scout users will also be able to listen to and control their iTunes music from within the app and view a live-updating map on the smartphone's screen. However, when connected to a compatible vehicle, Scout can also utilize the car's speakers for spoken directions and, depending on the automotive OEM's specifications, output video to the in-dash display ranging from full-color moving maps to basic navigation prompts.
The first OEM partner on board with Scout support is Ford with its Sync AppLink protocol. Ford drivers will be able to access Scout's functions using a combination of voice commands and steering-wheel button inputs--no direct phone contact should be required. Scout for Ford Sync AppLink will also include full turn-by-turn navigation capabilities and should make an interesting no-cost alternative to Ford's own integrated navigation system when the AppLink function is turned on in the U.S. later this year.
TeleNav thinks that many users will be more comfortable initiating destination searches from home, so the third piece of the Scout puzzle is the Scout.me Web site, which duplicates many of the functions of the iPhone app, but on a larger screen. Like the app, Scout.me allows users to search and discover destinations and adds the ability to share destinations and events with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Any favorites saved via the Web site will be immediately available for navigation on the app and in the car. Interestingly, tiny icons beneath the "Get Updates" form on the Scout.me homepage potentially allude to upcoming Android and BlackBerry versions of the Scout app.