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Unless you just started reading teh interwebs in the last 30 seconds, you know that Apple recently released iOS 6 – and with it, a new Maps application that uses data from sources other than Google. You’ve also probably heard that the app is being blasted as a major loss of functionality (unless, apparently, you live in China). Sure, it has voice directions, and even voice control – but of course, it also seems to have a lot of inaccuracies (and outright omissions).

In addition to saying things like “take me to Mom’s house” (if you have Mom listed in your contacts) to Siri and having a route come up in Maps, Siri can launch a program. So you could also say “launch Navigon” to get to a (ahem) more full-featured, shall we say, mapping program.

But you can’t ask Siri “Take me to Mom’s house with Navigon,” can you? Well, yes, you can – in a roundabout way. And it’s thanks to another feature Apple took away.

One of Map’s shortcomings over its iOS 5 counterpart is the loss of local transit routing. In iOS 5 you could get local mass transit directions. In iOS 6, hitting the “bus” button takes you to the app store to locate an app with mass transit directions.

But that’s the hook we need. Tell Siri, “take me to Mom’s via train” and Maps will figure out where Mom’s place is, then start up the App Store. If you have Navigon installed (and no other qualifying app) then Navigon will appear at the top of the list. Navigon just added the ability (for$2.99) to give out mass transit directions. But you don’t need the add-on for this to work. Just tap the ROUTE button to the right of Navigon, and the app will open. Maps will pass the coordinates to Navigon, and it will start building a route as if you had typed it in (or selected a contact).

TomTom doesn’t seem to be supported for this. The Garmin app is though (Garmin owns Navigon as well). I don’t have the Garmin app but I suspect it will work the same way.

You can say “by” instead of “via” and “bus” instead of “train.” The important point is to make sure Siri knows you want mass transit. If you have bought the mass transit add-on, Navigon will ask you if you want vehicle, pedestrian, or public transport directions (otherwise just vehicle or pedestrian). It doesn’t assume it just because Maps passed it a destination.

So you can get quality voice-activated mapping – it’s just not quite straightforward.

(Note – NSFW lyrics)


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