TomTom, the Dutch maker of automotive navigation systems, debuted a navigation application on Apple’s popular iPhone application store on Saturday, but it’s not for the budget-conscious: The U.S. and Canada edition (versions for New Zealand and Australia and Western Europe are also available) retails fro $99.99 at the App Store, putting it up there with the more expensive practical applications consumers can download.
The TomTom navigation app employs the iPhones touch screen technology to allow users to tap their way from starting point to destination, including the ability to scroll through menus and pinch to zoom in or out of maps. The app also lets users plan their route in portrait or landscape mode just by tilting the iPhone. Other features include the ability to meet with friends via the iPhone contacts menu and the ability to find restaurants and call and reserve a table. TomTom also includes a route deviation feature, which automatically re-routes users when road closures or other impediments to travel are detected.
The application also includes TomTom IQ Routes, which calculates the most efficient route based on the experiences of drivers and actual road speed data and the latest maps from Tele Atlas. The announcement of a TomTom iPhone application first made headlines during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this June, when Peter-Frans Pauwels, TomTom’s co-founder and CTO, demonstrated TomTom’s navigation software in combination with a specially designed car kit on the iPhone.
On the company’s Web site, TomTom also lists a car kit that offers secure docking, “enhanced” GPS performance, voice instructions and hands-free calling, while charging your iPhone at the same time. The IQ Routes feature, developed by TomTom, uses anonymous data accumulated by users of TomTom satellite navigation (satnav) devices. This is fed back into the new devices that use algorithms that take this data into account when calculating the optimal driving route.
TomTom faces competition from much less expensive navigation applications currently available on the App Store, however. Navigon MobileNavigator, available for $69.99 (through August 31) offers similar features such as voice announcements, portrait and landscape modes and speed assistant. The application also offers 3D map displays for a bird’s eye view of the area, a Take Me Home one-click function and Lane Assistant Pro and Speed View.
iPhone owners have another option in ALK Technologies’ CoPilot Live North America, which lists for $34.99 on the App Store. This application features a route optimizer, day/night mode (automatic) and live weather updates for a user’s location and destination. There are currently more than 30 GPS applications available from Apple’s App Store, including a free navigation application from AT&T (currently the exclusive carrier for the iPhone), although a $9.99 monthly subscription charge is added to the user’s wireless bill.