TomTom for iPhone

With the highest price, fewest features and the same ol' iPhone nav problems, TomTom's app is hard to recommend.


5.5
CNET Rating
3.9
User Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Reviewer's note: this review is for version 1.0 of the app. A new version (1.1) has just been released, promising great GPS accuracy; we're currently trying to acquire a copy of this latest version for review.

Design

At first blush, TomTom on the iPhone looks remarkably like TomTom on, well, TomTom. The somewhat blocky map, with its range of pastel colours, looks almost unchanged, while the status boxes underneath have been given the merest lick of paint, along with some smoothed out fonts for good measure. It flits between portrait and landscape modes quickly and attractively.

Tap the map to bring up the main menu, though, and it's apparent that you're now on Planet iPhone. The Dutch company has dumped its usual icon-based interface for Apple's suite of swipe to scroll menus and lists. To make it easier to use when Apple's fruity phone is stuck to the windscreen, menu items are double the normal height and feature big friendly icons.

There is a slight lag when scrolling through menus and lists, but that doesn't compare with the wait between keystrokes when keying in a destination. That's because TomTom, like other iPhone navigation apps, is exhausting the iPhone's processing power as it whittles down the list of possible streets or points of interest you'd like to visit. Our other gripe centres around the keyboard, which being the standard iPhone variety, is an incy wincy bit too small, even in landscape mode, when mounted on the windshield.

Features

TomTom's nav app is integrated with a few of the iPhone's native features. Those who have fleshed out their contact lists with addresses and also suffer from bouts of directionlessness are rewarded with the ability to navigate straight to those addresses. Points of interest in the TomTom's database can also be dialled directly from the app.

So far, the TomTom app is the only one of its kind to offer warnings for speed and red light cameras. As you approach one of these revenue generators a loud audio warning is played. This is accompanied by a flashing icon in the top left corner letting you know your distance from it, its type and, potentially, the speed limit; it's rather too small and a large text warning would have been better.

Other than this distinguishing feature, however, the TomTom's goodies cabinet is rather threadbare. There's a tease for the as-yet unreleased TomTom car kit in the main menu: night and day colours for the map need to be switched between manually, text-to-speech for spoken street names is not available, and lane guidance and junction are notable for their absence. The latter's a real shame because the app comes loaded with the latest Whereis maps which can feature lane guidance for most roads.

IQ Routes does make an appearance, though. When enabled, the TomTom app uses real-world average speed data, instead of speed limits, to calculate its routes. As we've noted in previous TomTom reviews, there's little apparent improvement in the routes generated, with some eye-opening suggestions that we drive through packed car-parks-cum-streets.

Performance

Starting up TomTom's iPhone app takes around 14 seconds. That's not terribly annoying when you choose to seek some electronic guidance, but it is a frustrating wait when the program restarts after a call. Route calculation times aren't too tardy, nor do they remind us of one Usain Bolt.

Saying that GPS reception on the iPhone's navigation apps is frustrating is about as kind as we can be. On a stand-alone GPS navigator, we'd expect the occasional drop out and odd instance of confused locations in a capital city's CBD; everywhere else in the open it'll work fine. With the iPhone apps TomTom's included, drop outs are the norm in the CBD and they occur all too often in the suburbs as well. Oh, and then there's the slight positioning lag, which is especially apparent when you veer off the TomTom's preferred course.

In the car, mounted on the windscreen of course, the iPhone can be an awful bugger to see. Everything's fine at night, but turn up the sun and it all becomes a glare-ridden mess. Adding a sky full of grey, ominous clouds does little to alleviate the issue, while popping on a pair of sunnies turns the screen to black.

Conclusion

Anticipation is a double-edged sword: deliver and bounteous praise will rain down on you like a victory parade, fail and the disappointment is felt twice or thrice over. With the highest price tag of the iPhone navigation set (currently AU$100), the fewest features (no lane guidance, junction view or text-to-speech) and the same shared failings (poor GPS reception and daytime glare issues) it's not surprising that we're disappointed. In future versions, we'd hope for either a price trim, feature boost or both. Before then, though, we think that Sygic and Navigon's apps have it licked.

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Fruv
8
Rating
 

Fruv posted a review   

The Good:Convenient, ease of use, free map updates

The Bad:No walking mode

I've had this app for a about a year now and have found it to be well worth the money. As of version 1.6, there is lane guidance and Map Share which allows you to correct mistakes you find as well as download corrections that others have made. They've released 2 free map updates since I bought it. It comes through iTunes as an app update.

 

robert (revisiting) posted a reply   

Accumulated sets of map corrections are notified directly to your iPhone, and can be down loaded via 3G and WiFi...

Wezza
4
Rating
 

Wezza posted a review   

The Good:Sexy Irish lady voice

The Bad:Wants to send me thru silly routes; GPS gets confused but does not use iPhone accelerometers as 'back-up'; nigh impossible to turn off after reaching destination or stopping off mid-route

I got this app on the recommendation of my parents, who 21st technology forgot. They got the original dash mounted unit, I got the iPhone app.

I honestly don't see the point.

Yeah, it's better than the standard 'maps' app, but not $80 better!

In short, it wants to send me thru silly routes any fool knows you just don't do, like heading into the city instead of skirting 'round it at rush hour;

Also, the GPS gets confused but does not use iPhone accelerometers as 'back-up': Think, it's more likely I've been shadowed out by a tall building than suddenly made a 90' turn in 0.5 seconds in slow moving traffic! iPhone accel's should confirm no such manouvre was made! Likewise, tunnels.

It's nigh impossible to turn off after reaching destination or stopping off mid-route, and it's hard to explain why an Irish lady is talking from my pants telling people to 'turn left' in the 7-11 convenience store. Much rather a quick, easy 'pause' button, or even a 'stop/exit' button, as the regular button just minimises the app and keeps telling you to 'turn left' for the next 2 hours of the latest Harry Potter movie.

Also lacks a 'paste address here' input. Instead, I gotta reverse engineer the txt I just got telling me the party's at 123 Alphabet st, Springfield, then I gotta convince tomtom which STATE I want to drive to! Consider the CLOSEST one IS THE MOST LIKELY!!

Needs to allow 'pinch' resizing and allowing me to at least SEE where tomtom is taking me, just in case I know there's a traffic jam ahead because of the football game finishing up just now. Ideally, allow me to drag 'n drop the route 'round such things I know I wanna avoid.

Ideally, real-time feedback. Don't send me down the same route that tomtom just sent 1000 other users down in the last 10 mins...

I just don't think the tomtom app for iPhone in any way recognises it's an app trapped in a communications device with a compass and accelerometers in 3D.

At least, not $80 worth.

Looks nice, and I do like that Irish lady's voice even if she talks thru movies...

 

darfvader posted a comment   

The Good:Unsure as yet

The Bad:No map update pricing information available

I emailed Tom Tom to ask the price of future map updates, they gave me the following vague reply:
The iPhone application is the map update so whenever a map update is available it will be able to be updated via the application.
With Best Regards
The TomTom Customer Support Team
This really helped with my decision to buy this application (not).
This gives me no idea if there is a charge for Map updates, or what the charges are.
Good one Tom Tom.

 

Derek Fung posted a comment   
Australia

Ooops. My iTunes was logged into the American store. The price has been updated to AU$100.

 

Vtec posted a comment   

dose it cost you money to use the GPS?

i.e will the service providers charge you or is it a lone GPS thing

 

martinng posted a comment   
Australia

Sygic mobile is 393MB and TOMTOM is 157MB which one do you you think is better more features and cheaper or less with a better icon?

 

complectus posted a comment   

Where is this app available for AU$80?

It's AU$99.99 in iTunes on my computer.


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User Reviews / Comments  TomTom for iPhone

  • Fruv

    Fruv

    Rating8

    "I've had this app for a about a year now and have found it to be well worth the money. As of version 1.6, there is lane guidance and Map Share which allows you to correct mistakes you find as well ..."

  • Wezza

    Wezza

    Rating4

    "I got this app on the recommendation of my parents, who 21st technology forgot. They got the original dash mounted unit, I got the iPhone app.

    I honestly don't see the point.
    ..."

  • darfvader

    darfvader

    "I emailed Tom Tom to ask the price of future map updates, they gave me the following vague reply:
    The iPhone application is the map update so whenever a map update is available it will be ab..."

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