I recently reviewed the TomTom iPhone Navigation App, and called it, "a solid first step platform onto which TomTom can build a world-class navigation product. I do want to see further enhancements for the product, including Text to Speech, lane guidance and live traffic feeds, but I anticipate that this is right around the corner, and can successfully be build on top of the existing platform."
Well, we appear to be just around the corner, and TomTom has offered us the version 1.2 to their application for free with a nice list of additional features that make their Navigation app a very respectable player in the space including:
- Text to Speech
- Updated Maps and Points of Interest
- IQ Routes - a way for the TomTom to benefit from actual drive times collected by users anonymously reporting back their speed along roads.
- Advanced Lane Guidance - shows you what lane to be in while approaching complex highway intersections
- Added iPod player support - some limited support for the iPod within the App itself
To some extent this closes the gap with competition that TomTom has with the navigation App, but I give them credit for getting out there with an App early and then iterating quickly to build on success. It's already one of the top grossing Apps in the iTunes App store. I would expect that they will add a for an incremental fee, traffic service onto the App sometime soon. No insider info here, but it's the next logical step in the development pipeline, and they already have the capability to sign people up for live traffic feeds through their standalone platform.
So, the improvements are helpful and certainly worth the free upgrade price. While there have been some issues installing the upgrade, I simply ended up deleting my ver 1.1 on my phone and installing my 1.2 on the iPhone. It just made things easier as I am maxing out the memory with apps, and other junk on there.
Text to Speech
I did not have an issue hearing the iPhone, even at highway speeds, and the text to speech is a nice addition. I have always recommended text to speech if you can afford it as it makes navigating in urban and suburban areas a lot easier when you can hear the road name and then look for the street sign. It inspires a lot more confidence and the added feature performs well. There are all kinds of recorded voices in different languages, but only one "Computer" voice that offers text to speech in the North American version - it's "Samantha"
The IQ Routes system with your permission, collected actual travel time as stand alone GPS units traveled the highways and byways of the land, in effect correcting their assumptions on travel times on specific roadways. It's a sort of historical average speed across a road with thousands of trips in the database. They might originally think that a road can be traveled at its speed limit, but in fact with two lights and a lot of people turning, the effective time to travel on a road might be 10% slower. You are able to shut off the IQ route capability to test the difference in predicted travel times. In my use, I could see a difference in planning routes, but the difference was minimal in a lot of instances.
Advanced Lane Guidance
I like lane guidance images and use them when available on my GPS navigators. The TomTom App gives you the opportunity to turn it off if you want - Settings--> Advanced--> Lane Images. Often times this feature is reserved for some of the higher end devices, but is finding its way down the product line. It's something I would expect to see in an iPhone App which should be able to support higher end features.
The iPod support can be had by tapping the bottom boarder of the map, and a slider comes up showing a music note and a voice icon. Tap the music note and a Rewind, Play, Fast Forward bar slides out to offer you the opportunity to play whatever is queued up in your iPod function. You are able to start a song or album before launching the TomTom App, and continue to control it from inside the App. You don't have full browse capability or album picking but it's a good start. The image below shows you the bottom of the (portrait layout) screen with the iPod controls.
Net, I think that these additions are a good next step for TomTom, and they offer a quality set of features built on top of a quality navigation product. I do expect to see traffic enabled soon, and continued development of the navigation capabilities and maps.