Telenav may have an increasingly difficult time justifying its existence as a turn-by-turn smartphone navigation software provider in the age of Google Maps and Nokia Maps, but it's not going down without a fight. Instead, the company is trying a new tack: offering those same turn-by-turn and voice-guided navigation features to any app developer. The new service, called "Scout for Apps," allows developers to embed Telenav's services directly into their iOS or HTML5 apps (with Android support coming later in the year).
The app offers full, turn-by-turn driving navigation directly within the Safari browser on iOS, complete with voice prompts for turns. In our testing it worked well, though of course it's not as full-featured as a dedicated, native app. Compromises abound, from the look of the app in landscape to the fact that the screen won't stay on by default in Mobile Safari, but nevertheless the idea of free navigation embedded in any app could be pretty compelling to iOS users, who lack the system-wide navigation features of Android and Windows Phone. It is definitely competitive Nokia Maps' HTML5 offering, but we imagine that Nokia has no intention of standing still in this space.
The idea may be to take on Google Maps directly — instead of using the standard APIs to embed maps, Telenav is hoping developers will opt for its more full-featured offering, based on HTML5. The company is not charging developers for the service by default, instead serving up its maps with ads — though licensing is available for those developers who wish to forgo ads. Telenav is offering previews of the functionality now at its Scout website, and says that Yellow Pages, AroundMe, and a handful of other apps will launch with the new functionality "soon."