After the U.S. navigation outfit Telenav bought Skobbler, a Berlin-based startup that makes a Google Maps rival using OpenStreetMap (OSM) data, Telenav used the purchase to incorporate some of Skobbler’s technology and transition its U.S.-centric Scout navigation app over to OSM.
Now, in what is probably the oddest branding decision of the year, [company]Telenav[/company] has announced a global Scout app – or, to give it its full name, “GPS Navigation, Maps & Traffic – Scout.” I don’t call it an odd decision because of the length of the name (a clear SEO play), but because it’s a completely different app from the Scout used by North Americans, with a different user interface and functionality. It’s effectively a rebadging of Skobbler’s pre-existing GPS Navigation & Maps app, with added traffic routing.
OK, that’s not entirely fair; it’s a fairly sizeable leap for that app. Once paid-for, the app now offers for free functionality that is comparable to what you’ll get from the likes of [company]TomTom[/company] and [company]Garmin[/company] – perhaps more than comparable, seeing as its OSM bent makes it a lot more useful for people traversing pathways by bicycle or on foot. But still, using the same name for different apps is confusing.
“[The non-U.S. Scout] offers offline functionality and [the U.S. Scout] doesn’t – for [the U.S. Scout] it’s more about having a tool that allows you to do certain things while you’re traveling, such as interacting between users,” Skobbler co-founder Marcus Thielking, now Telenav Germany managing director, volunteered by way of explanation. “The [non-U.S. Scout] is more like a maps app with navigation functionality, but [the U.S.] Scout is more like a navigation app with map functionality.”
The traffic data for the non-North American Scout app comes from supplier [company]Inrix[/company] — the free version provides notice of incidents, while smart routing to avoid slow-moving traffic costs £7.49 / €9.99 / $10.99. Users of the iOS version can download offline maps and traffic functionality for one country for free, but generally the offline maps cost extra. It also pulls in information from TripAdvisor, FourSquare and so on.
So, will the two Scouts merge into one coherent product at some point? “I do hope so,” Thielking said. In the meantime, you can find “GPS Navigation, Maps & Traffic – Scout” for iOS here and for Android here.