Tomtom Satnav app on iPhone 3G

Tomtom Satnav app on iPhone 3G

YW have been waiting quite some time for a real satnav app to become available for Apple’s iPhone. When the 3G version came on the scene about a year ago sporting GPS built in, our hopes were high, but we had to do with Google Map’s approximation: not real satellite navigation, more moving map showing current position and suggested route. This was fine until you either went into an area of poor mobile reception (good service needed to download the next map) or missed a turning as it would not recalculate the route.

The much anticipated Tomtom satnav app for iPhone was released last week on 18th August. We downloaded version 1.0 immediately and installed it on a 1 year old 3G model running iPhone 3.0 OS (Operating System). we don’t have a 3Gs but decided that if it worked well on the older model, it should bode well for the newer machine and be compatible with a huge number of iPhones. We downloaded the UK and Ireland app at £59.99, very expensive for an iPhone app, but good value if you consider the cheapest satnav devices start around the £100-150 range. The app installed fine, and started up reasonably quickly.

click on video to view on next page

video review of Tomtom app for iPhone

video review of Tomtom app for iPhone

None of the current Yellowwheels fleet has satnav installed at manufacture. Why would you pay a premium of around £1000 when an aftermarket device is around £150? Manufacturers need to look very closely at the pricing of their OEM satnavs; most buyers are baulking at the price.

Initial impressions were very favourable. A couple of days getting used to the system went well with a trip to Leicester, and then Wareham. But cross country routes are a cinch for satnavs, with only the odd direction down a muddy farm track to leave them with egg on their faces. We decided to hit London, with busy traffic and complex one way systems for a proper test. But first we ditched US Mandy’s voice for the dulcet tones of UK Jane (under SETTINGS>VOICE)!

Tomtom satnav app for iPhone from yellowwheels on Vimeo.

Tomtom on iPhone London test
Starting just after the Tate Museum, we navigated (!) to NAVIGATE TO>POINT OF INTEREST>POI IN CITY>LONDON>MUSEUM/ART GALLERY>MUSEUM OF MOVING IMAGE to the Museum of the moving image, which seemed appropriate. Not a long distance but some challenging roads and one way systems for a satnav to conquer.

View Larger Map

Our drive east along Millbank, over Lambeth Bridge, turning left onto Lambeth Palace Rd went smoothly, however road works at the south end of Westminster Bridge Rd stopped us following the Tomtom’s instructions. In fact, the 2d map showed us where we needed to go, but the instructions were confusing because the app thought we were on a parallel rd and recalculated. It’s likely that we momentarily were hidden from satellites by tall office blocks. We correctly ended up on York Rd but then it all went wrong. Human error swung in, and we misinterpreted the instruction to turn first left at the giant, IMAX cinema dominated roundabout, and crossed Waterloo bridge. You need to cross a dedicated bus lane and dive down the identically named Waterloo Road, just before the main Waterloo Road; confusing. Belvedere Rd, our destination, lay 30 feet beneath us, and we were forced to negotiate a long loop around the Aldwych and back over the bridge. Fortunately the app recalculated our route speedily, something the Google Maps app and it’s suedo-satnav function, that is standard on iPhone cannot do on the fly.

Later on the way home we lost GPS reception through the Aldwych tunnel, but the signal returned impressively quickly. We parked and walked to a shop and found it useful to guide us all the way to our destination on foot. Normally you’d leave your satnav in the car.

Tomtom main screen

Tomtom main screen

We’d thoroughly recommend it, despite some short comings. Remember that although Tomtom satnav is mature technology, this is version 1.0 of the iPhone app, and there are bound to be upgrades and refinements following. The software works first time out and doesn’t have the feeling of beta programing. GPS accuracy will be increased by use of the dedicated holder/charger (not available for review yet)

Works fine on older 3G iPhone
Useful speed and traffic light camera warnings
Well thought out zooming in at junctions
Recalculates route efficiently
Warns about toll roads (ie London congestion charge)
Tomtom in car kit not necessary (but may improve efficiency)
Built in maps
Runs less hot than when using Google maps

Screen does not switch to night view automatically
Zoom buttons are too small
does not support pinching etc for zooming (on main nav window)
Phone calls interrupt Tomtom, although app resumes smoothly after call.
No traffic delay status display
Unlike Google maps app, no possibility of satellite view
Occasional route errors
Big download (UK & Ireland = 240mb)

Buy Tomtom app on iTunes store TomTom U.K. & Ireland = UK & Ireland edition

Buy Tomtom app on iTunes store TomTom Western Europe = Western Europe Edition

Buy Tomtom app on iTunes store TomTom U.S. & Canada = U.S. & Canada edition

Buy Tomtom app on iTunes store TomTom Australia = Australian edition

Buy Tomtom app on iTunes store TomTom New Zealand = New Zealand edition


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