First Look: TomTom Navigation App for U.S. and Canada

by

TomTom's highly-anticipated GPS app for the iPhone finally made it to the App Store last week. First announced WWDC on June 8, TomTom's demo video during the event promised a slick app that mimicked the look of its standalone-GPS products and applications for other smartphone platforms while promising an appropriately iPhone-esque interface. We've had a chance to put the app through some initial paces to see how it performs.

Download and set-up

The TomTom app for the U.S. and Canada takes some time to download given its 1.21 GB size. The size of the app is attributed mostly to the map data it holds, carrying street-level data for the all of the U.S. and Canada, including points of interest (POIs). It can be installed on to iPhone 3GS and 3G models, though would not install on a first-generation iPhone.

Opening the app for the first time prompts a legal advisory to pop up, which must be acknowledged in order to proceed. After this, you are free to roam about and explore the app, with no settings prompts or "getting started" information shown. The voice is set to "Lori," a female American English voice by default. If you want to change the voice, you have a whopping 75 from which to choose in languages from Afrikaans to Vlaams. There are 11 voice selections that speak English available, though none of these are computerized voices capable of pronouncing street names. Changing the voice guidance language does not change the language of the app's English interface.

124446 tomtom legal notice 124446 tomtom voices

First trips

On our first trips out using the TomTom app to navigate, getting a GPS fix in suburban Boston under clear skies took under 30 seconds. Relative to well-known surroundings, the app showed an accurate location most of the time, with only a couple of moments when the icon representing our location appeared off to the side of the current road. The graphics are sharp and professional, though tracking is just a wee bit jumpy on the 32GB iPhone 3GS used for testing, though this does not hamper navigation in any way. Switching between landscape and portrait mode is smooth when the iPhone's orientation is changed.

124446 tomtom active guidance

The volume of voice guidance is loud enough to be heard over music playing at a low volume through the car's stereo. Adjusting the voice's volume can be accomplished using the iPhone's volume rocker though you must do this while the voice is speaking, otherwise you'll only adjust the ringer volume. If you tap on the lower left corner of the information pane at the bottom where navigation information is shown, you'll get an on-screen volume slider that will adjust the voice's volume directly.

124446 tomtom volume

Music from the iPod application can be played during navigation, though it stops instantly when voice guidance is given, and then starts playing again right after. This is a pretty abrupt way to handle voice guidance and a fade-in/out effect would be less startling and easier on the ears.

When a call is received, navigation guidance stops and the standard iPhone incoming call screen is shown. If the call is accepted, the phone app takes precedence, displaying the standard in-call screen. Once the call has ended or an incoming call is rejected, Tomtom opens up on its own immediately, and navigation resumes once it obtains a GPS fix. The same behavior is exhibited if a call is initiated via a Bluetooth accessory, such as a car kit.

Unscientific eyeballing of the iPhone's built-in battery percentage meter showed about a 5% drop for every 10 minutes of guidance with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and connected to the car's Bluetooth system. Turning Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off should improve battery life during navigation, but connecting your iPhone to a power source would be wise to avoid a dead battery in the middle of navigating an unfamiliar place for all but the shortest trips.

Interface and features

The TomTom app offers an interface that will be very familiar to anyone who has ever used a TomTom stand-alone device or app on another smartphone or PDA platform before. The ability to change the day and night color schemes is present, although a setting to allow the app to automatically switch between day and night color schemes using the iPhone's ambient light sensor seems to be missing. At first glance, POI data appears to be robust, allowing us to easily find retail store chain and government office locations. Many POIs have phone numbers, which can automatically be called through a shortcut button in the POI summary view.

124446 tomtom day colors 124446 tomtom poi call

Also included is IQ Routes, a relatively recent offering from TomTom that promises to provide optimal route guidance based on historical traffic information for the route you need to travel. Looking at other features offered on their stand-alone units, the TomTom iPhone app has not inherited text-to-speech voice guidance nor live traffic information.

124446 tomtom route settings

Initial thoughts

So far, the TomTom app shows promise, though it has some heavy competition from Navigon, Sygic, CoPilot and many others. Currently priced at $99, TomTom is the most expensive navigation app available for the U.S., coming in at over $60 more than the least expensive full-featured GPS app that covers the U.S. and Canada, CoPilot Live, which is priced at $34.99.

The accessory cradle, which will have its own GPS chip, a loudspeaker, and ports for charging and audio output, is not yet available nor is its price known though unconfirmed information points to a possible price of 99 + VAT for the cradle and app together and compatibility with the iPod touch. TomTom put out a new video of the cradle a few days ago, highlighting its features:

The upcoming main review of the TomTom app will include more information about the app's settings, customization options, POI database, as well as a more in-depth look at the app's performance on the road and its advance planning features.

The TomTom app for the U.S. and Canada can be found here (link opens iTunes) and costs $99.

Top Stories

16inchmacbookpromain

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to Feature Flat-Edged Design, MagSafe, No Touch Bar and More Ports

Thursday January 14, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Apple is working on two new MacBook Pro models that will feature significant design changes, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple is developing two models in 14 and 16-inch size options. The new MacBook Pro machines will feature a flat-edged design, which Kuo describes as "similar to the iPhone 12" ...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
prototype iphone 12 pro

Prototype iPhone 12 Pro Shown Off in Photos

Wednesday January 13, 2021 3:39 pm PST by
Developer Giulio Zompetti, who often shows off prototype versions of Apple devices, today highlighted a prototype version of the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro is running an operating system called SwitchBoard, a nonUI version of the iOS 14 update that Apple uses internally. We've seen SwitchBoard on prototype devices before, as Apple uses it to test new features. Zompetti's prototype...
foldable iPhone concept feature

Apple Testing In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 13, Foldable iPhone Also in the Works

Friday January 15, 2021 1:46 pm PST by
Apple has started "early work" on an iPhone that has a foldable display, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Though testing of a foldable iPhone has begun, Apple has not committed to releasing a device that has a foldable display. Development has not yet expanded beyond a display and Apple does not have full foldable iPhone prototypes in its labs. Like foldable...
Apple TV Ray Light 2 Triad

Apple Extends Free Apple TV+ Trials Until July

Friday January 15, 2021 10:50 am PST by
Apple is once again planning to extend its free Apple TV+ trial subscriptions, this time until July. When Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, Apple offered free Apple TV+ subscriptions to those who purchased a new Apple device in or after September 2019. Those free subscriptions were set to expire in November 2020, but in October 2020, Apple announced that it was extending free trials...
macbook pro 16 inch thunderbolt

Bloomberg: Next-Generation MacBook Pro to Offer Improved Displays, Faster Charging Over MagSafe

Thursday January 14, 2021 11:36 pm PST by
Following today's report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo outlining major changes for the next-generation MacBook Pro models coming in the third quarter of this year, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has weighed in with his own report corroborating some of the details but seemingly differing a bit on others. First, Gurman shares more details on the return of MagSafe charging to the MacBook Pro, indicating...
Hue module dimmer switch

Philips Hue Announces New Wall Switch Module, Dimmer Switch, and Outdoor Light Bar

Thursday January 14, 2021 3:11 am PST by
Philips Hue has announced a new wireless dimmer switch module that lets Hue bridge owners directly control the smart lighting from their standard wall switches. The new Philips Hue wall switch module is the ideal addition to any Philips Hue set up. Installed behind existing light switches, it allows users to turn their existing switch into a smart switch and ensures their smart lighting is...
pat gelsinger intel

Incoming Intel CEO Derides Company's Inability to 'Deliver Better Products' Than Apple's M1 Chip

Friday January 15, 2021 6:17 am PST by
Incoming Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has said that the company must "deliver better products" than Apple, which he described as a "lifestyle company," and says that Intel's best days are "in front of it" (via The Oregonian). Speaking at an Intel all-hands meeting yesterday, Gelsinger derisively implied that Apple is merely a "lifestyle company," so Intel must be able to surpass its technology: ...
mac pro mini feature

Apple Working on Two New Mac Pro Desktops, One of Which Will Be Reminiscent of Power Mac G4 Cube

Friday January 15, 2021 10:23 am PST by
Apple is developing two versions of the Mac Pro to succeed the Mac Pro that was first released in December 2019, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The first updated Mac Pro is a direct successor to the current Mac Pro and it will use the same design. It may also be equipped with Intel processors rather than Apple silicon chips, and it could be one of the sole machines in the Mac...
pioneer carplay wc5700nex

The Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2021

Wednesday January 13, 2021 1:16 pm PST by
CES 2021 is taking place digitally this year, and it hasn't been as exciting as in past years because many vendors have opted out. That said, some companies are still showing off some interesting Apple-related accessories that are coming out this year and that will be of interest to Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Pioneer Wireless...