TomTom for the iPhone Functional Review

TomTom app v1.2

  • App version 8.150 (462780)
  • Map: ‘United_States_2GB’
  • v840.2569
  • Language: English US

My Configuration

  • iPhone 3G 8GB
  • OS 3.1.2
  • Network ATT
  • Songs – 453
  • Videos – 1
  • Photos – 250
  • Applications – 60
  • Location – San Jose, California

Prelude

After getting familiar with the settings of this navigation program, I set out to test its functionality in familiar routes. This review is only going to deal with basic navigation; I am not going to concern myself with bells and whistles like POI or playing music while navigating.

Accuracy

  • The GPS is quite accurate when it comes to determining my location.

Route Planning

  • Route planning is quite good and recalculating a route if I chose to deviate from the recommended path is automatic.
  • One of the routes I take regularly has a stop light that has me under a freeway overpass and possibly due to poor satellite reception the program gets confused and tries to recalculate the route and usually gets it wrong. This is a simple software algorithm, if I’m on the recommended path and I come to a stop for whatever reason, there should be no reason to recalculate the route unless I request it.

Text to Speech

  • There is only one computer voice that is used to pronounce street names. This voice is in English which works for me because I am an American. The problem is that pronunciations of Spanish street names are quite often unintelligible. I live in California where many of the town and street names are Spanish. (For test purposes try “Los Gatos”, “Santa Cruz”, or “San Jose”)

Here is a direct quote for the TomTom User Guide:

“The text-to-speech program looks at the whole sentence to make sure that the sound you hear is as close to the real thing as possible. The program is also able to recognize and quite accurately pronounce foreign place and street names. For example, the English voice can read French street names.”

Route Demo

  • Another feature that could be useful if implemented correctly is the “Route Demo” option. The whole idea of having a “Route Demo” is tremendously powerful as one can rehearse the route before ever getting in the vehicle. BUT… didn’t anybody ever try it before releasing the product? The demo is in REAL time. If my route is an hour long and 58 minutes of it is a straight shot down the expressway and the last two minutes has a number of complicated turns, I want to fast forward the demo to the last two minutes and even the last two minutes needs to have the option of running in fast time. In this example, the entire demo should run in under a minute. God forbid I should want to rehearse a trip from my house in California to my friend’s house in Miami, Florida, which would take 44 hours according to the program’s calculations.

My recommendation would be an onscreen slider to allow me to control the speed of the demo dynamically.

Route Calculation

  • Speaking of calculations, the program reported that it checked over a million roads when it was planning my trip to Miami, Florida. How can that be? I don’t believe there are a million major thoroughfares in the whole country. Google maps takes a few seconds to calculate the trip to Miami and TomTom takes over 6 minutes. In the overall scheme of things the time is insignificant it just seems inefficient.

Map Browsing

  • It is really annoying when browsing the map that scrolling and zooming causes the screen to clear before the new information is displayed. Because the screen is cleared every time I scroll, I’m never sure that the new screen is anywhere near the previous screen which forces me to zoom out to verify what I’m looking at. I would like to see it implemented the same way that Google Maps or Google Earth does it.

Bug Report

The problems that I have outlined are design and test issues, now I want to mention a bug or omission; I’m not sure which.

  • Under “Change Settings->Alerts” I only see the ‘speed limit’ option but not the ‘safety camera’ option as mentioned in the user’s guide.

Feature request

  • I would like to be able to change the route by dragging the existing route with my finger to the new road.

Summary

Definitely get a car mount. Being able to glance at the screen is important, as there is a lot of useful information available.

Overall I really like the program and I can’t wait till these issues are addressed.

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3 comments so far

  1. Locke on

    Very good, Mike. I noticed some of the same problems but you are very clear in describing them. Send it all to Tomtom.

  2. echild19 on

    Good review. I thought I was missing something when I planned ahead on my route and it took forever to do the demo!! They need to speed that up. Would like to see an updated map though. There is a mall that has been open by my house for two years that is not showing up. It said I was driving on a dirt road when I was in the parking lot.
    EW

  3. Éamonn ÓCeallaigh on

    Hi, great review. I have the tom tom car kit and iphone app. I wonder when the next update is due?


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