Lately Telenav has been trying to turn its Scout navigation service into more than just a turn-by-turn driving tool. It’s been loading up Scout with a raft of social features and coordination tools that let friends, families and colleagues plan their activities on a map.
In February, Telenav launched OnMyWay, a set of location-sharing and estimated-time-of-arrival tools for the iPhone similar to those offered by Glympse. Telenav has since brought OnMyWay to the Android version of Scout, and this week it announced a new group meetup feature for Android that allows users to coordinate the navigation of multiple people to a single destination.
Here’s how Telenav said it works:
… you choose the people you are meeting up with and then choose where you are meeting up (restaurant, bar, soccer field, etc.). Scout will send a text message to each of these people with a link to provide navigation to the destination. If your friends are using Scout on their Android phone, the link will launch the Scout app to give them directions there. For those who don’t, Scout will provide turn by turn navigation (with voice guidance) using our browser-based HTML5 navigation service. So anyone with a smartphone will get navigation.
The best part is that you can see the live location and ETA information for each person meeting up while they are in route. So, while you are driving there or while you are waiting, you don’t have to call or text them asking them where they are.
Only users with the new updated Android app can initiate a group nav session, though if Telenav follows its usual custom it will offer iPhone support shortly. But because of the flexibility of its web app, anyone with a GPS-enabled smartphone should be able to participate in coordinated meetups. The turn-by-turn directions appear in the browser and are broadcast over the phone’s speakers.
Though Scout may not be the staple navigation app on smartphone platforms like Google Maps, Apple Maps and Nokia’s Here Drive, it is gaining in popularity, particularly on Android where it’s among the top free travel apps in the U.S. Google Play store. Telenav is also pushing boundaries in the navigation space in very interesting ways. It recently started using Open Street Maps as the core cartography source for its consumer-facing navigation apps. Essentially, Telenav is moving away from paid proprietary maps to an entirely crowdsourced mapping system.