Price:$49.99 for U.S. version
- Good route preview and selection feature.
- Includes text-to-speech directions.
- Real-time traffic.
- Music fading.
- Automatic map updates.
- Rapid battery drain - use with charging mount.
- A $19.99 annual fee for real-time traffic.
TomTom for iPhone: 11 Versions Available, Dedicated Windshield Mount
Review updated March, 2010 with the introduction of version 1.3
When TomTom introduced its iPhone app last year, I criticized it for a lack of text-to-speech directions, for its price (formerly $99) and for not making good use of the iPhone's Internet connectivity. TomTom has addressed all of these issues and more with upgrades culminating in the current version 1.3. There's still room for improvement, but I've upgraded this app to a four-star rating.
For this review, I tested the U.S. version, running on an iPhone 3GS, in urban, highway, and cross-state driving conditions.
TomTom has released a dedicated windshield mount that includes its own GPS chip, a power port charger, aux sound port, and other features.
New in Version 1.3
Real-time traffic detection and avoidance.
Google Local Search.
Automatic day/night screen brightness modes.
Add locations from other applications and Web sites
On the Road
On the road, the TomTom app performs well. I used the app mostly in landscape screen mode, mounted in an Arkon windshield mount. I consider some type of mount essential, by the way, since there's no other practical means of securing the iPhone and keeping it visible while you drive.
The display is bright, sharp, and clear, as you expect on an iPhone, with distance to destination and mph in the lower left, distance to turn in large numerals in the center, and time to destination on the right. You may zoom in or out on the 3D display, and one touch takes you back to the attractive and easy-to-use menu screen, including the standards such as navigate to, mute sound, night colors, POIs, etc.
The sound was surprisingly loud and clear on my iPhone 3GS, and I was easily able to hear directions over road noise and music. Incoming calls suspend navigation, but return to navigation and your current destination automatically on hang-up. Two pluses: You may call a points-of-interest destination directly from the menu, and you may call and navigate to contacts in your iPhone contacts database (if you have included the contact address) directly from the TomTom app.
Like all iPhone navigation apps, TomTom for iPhone burns through battery power relatively quickly; another reason for using it with a power port charger and windshield mount. I was able to conserve battery by clicking the iPhone into standby mode when I knew I wouldn't need its directions for a prolonged period.
Maps and Downloads
Unlike some other navigation apps, which download maps on the fly, the TomTom comes with the full complement of maps for its region. This creates a large download - 1.2G in the case of the US & Canada version. Make sure you have enough room in iPhone memory before purchasing this app. Also, the best way to obtain the app is by downloading it via your personal computer and iTunes over a fast home Internet connection, then syncing it into your iPhone from your computer.
I consider TomTom's on-board maps to be a plus, if you have the memory available for them. When you need to download maps on the fly, you could end up without maps in a remote area that offers little or no cellular reception, and those areas do exist in most states.
Overall, TomTom for iPhone is an outstanding navigation app that has improved dramatically with upgrades to include favored TomTom features such as Advanced Lane Guidance (gives notice of upcoming lane changes needed and shows arrows to place you in the correct lane), and the "help me" emergency menu, plus features unique to the iPhone platform including navigate to contacts, multi-touch control, and free map updates.