Dedicated GPS units have taken a hit since people started cramming turn-by-turn navigation into their smartphones, but if you do happen to stumble across one in stores somewhere, there's a decent chance Garmin's name is on it. As one of the more ubiquitous brands in the field, the company carries some weight. So when it releases a new navigation app, it's worth taking notice. Víago is far from the first app Garmin has dropped into the Play Store, nor is it even the company's first navigation app, but upon first impressions, it looks like quite the improvement over its previous efforts.

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Víago's biggest strength may just be how intuitive it is, as features are tucked away where you would naturally expect them to be. The map consistently takes center stage, options to start a trip are available in the left sidebar, and anything you may want to toggle during the trip are available on the right. That said, alternate routes aren't made obvious. If they're offered at all, I have not yet been able to find them.

The app can easily pull up contacts and navigate to the entries with addresses, search for points of interest, and guide you into the correct lane when the time comes. There's also a feature known as "real directions," where the app will guide you with natural instructions such as "turn right at the bridge" or "merge left next to the clock tower" when such landmarks are available.

GPS apps come in a wide range of prices, with some options not costing a cent and others pushing towards $100. Despite the current .99 cent price tag (temporarily reduced from $1.99), víago pushes towards the latter category. Most of the app's functionality is tucked away under in-app purchases that range from $4.99 to $19.99. Offline maps and live traffic are priced at the high end of that range, but Garmin's offering them up for $9.99 at launch. This isn't all that pricey until you take into account how each continent requires its own map. When you consider that live traffic, real directions, and 3D landmarks all require their own in-app purchase, users can easily spend over $100 for a complete set of features. For that much, you could just buy a dedicated GPS unit.

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The 50% off sale lasts until July 13th, so you can currently get off the ground for $40 or so instead (buy all the features for your area - not all the maps the app has to offer). Still, bear in mind that this is an initial release, and some areas may need to be fleshed out. See the full press release below for more details.

Source: Garmin blog

Garmin® Launches víago™, A Feature-Packed Navigation App Starting at $1.99

App Includes Leading Garmin Navigation, In App Purchases Offer Additional Premium Features

OLATHE, Kan./June 17, 2014/Business Wire — Garmin® International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced víago, a new premium navigation app for Android™ and iPhone® starting at $1.99. Garmin víago offers advanced navigation features not available from free apps, guiding drivers through the most challenging situations with ease. The app comes with off-board maps for many regions around the world and navigation features such as current speed and speed limit display, lane assist, weather information, in-map traffic display, and photo-realistic junction views. Plus, users can easily upgrade their experience with premium add-ons like downloadable maps (“Maps to Go”) that don’t require a data connection to navigate, real-time traffic with automatic rerouting, urban navigation with public transportation1, 3D terrain view, and much more. Víago is the first smartphone navigation app that features Garmin Real DirectionsTM (in app purchase), giving spoken turn-by-turn directions just like a friend would by using recognizable landmarks, buildings, stop signs and traffic lights.

“Garmin víago offers the best navigation technology available from Garmin, helping drivers to reduce stress and save time on the road,” said Joern Watzke, vice president world-wide mobile business at Garmin Wuerzburg GmbH. ”The comprehensive feature set goes far beyond simple turn-by-turn directions and assists drivers like no other navigation app. Premium in app purchase options allow users to fully customize their navigation experience and only choose the features they want.“

Leading Navigation from Garmin

Garmin víago is the perfect starting point for any journey with accurate turn-by-turn directions, high-quality off-board maps from HERE, and premium features. The intuitive and clean interface keeps the map at the center of the user experience at all times. Planning trips is easy with the convenient multi-stop route planner that lets users add multiple destinations to a trip. The app even provides information on the weather conditions at the destination, including a 3-day forecast. Additional features of the app include lane assist and photo-realistic junction views, letting drivers know in advance which lane they should be in to make a turn. Speed Limit Display provides information on speed limits, conveniently displayed next to current speed.

Víago also is a perfect companion in urban or metropolitan areas with pedestrian navigation and information on public transportation1. Users can easily switch from one mode to another, for example from car to pedestrian navigation to continue by foot after parking the car.

Upgrade with Premium Features

Garmin víago offers a whole array of additional premium features through in app purchase packages. Users can purchase high-quality onboard maps (Maps to Go)2 that are stored locally on the smartphone, providing navigation capabilities even in areas where cell phone coverage is spotty, such as when traveling in the backcountry. Maps to Go are available for different regions around the world to avoid roaming fees when navigating abroad. The maps can conveniently be purchased within the víago app and there’s no need to download separate apps. Other premium in app purchases include Garmin Real DirectionsTM, a feature only available from Garmin that gives more natural and intuitive directions, using landmarks, stop signs and traffic lights, rather than hard-to-read street names. The Safety Kit package includes, among other features, Active Lane Guidance, displaying an animated graphic next to the map view that uses brightly colored arrows to indicate the proper lane needed to make a turn. With Traffic Live users automatically get routed around gridlock, utilizing historic and real-time data from other drivers. Panorama View offers 3D views obtained from NASA’s height and terrain data for intuitive visual orientation. Urban Guidance1 integrates public transportation, complete with detailed itineraries of transit stops. To learn more about the in app purchase packages, go to garmin.com/viago.

Useful Accessories

Garmin víago is compatible with Garmin HUD, an innovative new way of viewing navigation information in the car. HUD projects crisp and bright directions onto a transparent film on the windshield or an attached reflector lens. By providing comprehensive road guidance at a glance and right within the driver’s line of sight, HUD can help increase safety and reduce driver distraction. Garmin also offers a variety of mounts to safely secure the smartphone in the car while navigating.

Pricing and Availability

Garmin víago is available now on Google PlayTM and the App Store at an introductory price of $.99 (normally $1.99) until July 13, 2014. The in app purchase packages range from $4.99 to $19.99. Maps to Go and Traffic Live are 50 percent off during the promotional period.

Garmin víago is the latest from the consumer automotive segment at Garmin, the leading provider of mobile navigation solutions for automobiles, motorcycles and trucks. The user-friendly personal navigation devices and apps from Garmin have innovative features that provide time- and fuel-saving benefits to meet the demands of everyday driving.