This brand new update to the ever popular TomTom for the iPhone app (which has featured in the Apple 'top grossing apps' list since it was first released 18 months ago) adds one highly requested feature: Map Share. Why the big hurrah over one additional feature? Simple, it's a hugely important part of the TomTom feature set and long overdue in iPhone form. What Map Share does, and does brilliantly it has to be said, is allow users of the iPhone app to make changes to their own maps as well as benefit from the changes and updates made by the community of TomTom users. Possible changes include editing of street names, setting driving directions, speed restrictions and so on.
The whole community editing of maps might sound a little dangerous, given the number of folk who might consider renaming major roads for a laugh, but actually TomTom has implemented the whole concept very well indeed. While the changes you make to your local maps are instantly reflected, changes by others are only rolled out in Map Share updates to the wider community after having been verified by TomTom itself. Having been a happy Map Share user of my standalone TomTom satnav devices for a couple of years now, I can confirm it works. As for the iPhone app implementation, well I've already let Map Share update the existing maps and the process is smooth and hassle free.
Map Share is a free extra on top of the fact that when you buy the app you get the most up to date mapping for your chosen location anyway. Maps which are kept up to date, and which importantly do not require a mobile signal or even a data plan in order to browse or establish a basic navigation route. If you need some of the additional functionality, such as traffic data, then obviously a method of squirting that data into your iPhone will also be required.
But what else is new since DaniWeb first reviewed the original TomTom for iPhone app when it was originally released? Plenty, as it happens.
For me the most important change has definitely been the addition of the HD Traffic service. Available as an in-app purchase, either on a monthly or yearly subscription basis (£3.49 per month or £22.99 per year), HD Traffic is essential for anyone using their satnav for business purposes to be honest. I'd be absolutely lost without it, if you'll excuse the obvious pun, and I'd be a lot later arriving at my destinations as well. What this does is bring accurate, real-time, traffic data updates right into the mapping. If there are delays on your route then TomTom will not only advise you but offer to re-route you via a quicker option should one be available. It's unobtrusive from the interface perspective and does exactly what such functionality should do in an app like this: just work.
Then there's the navigation options. If you don't know where you are actually going, as in you know where you want to go but don't have an address or postcode, then you can now use the excellent Google Local Search option. Just enter a search term and Google will find it for you, one click then allows you to set a route to that destination. Believe me, not only does this work but it has saved my bacon on a number of occasions. Or, and this is a bit of a gimmick really, although a very impressive one, how about navigating to a photo of your destination? Yep, because the iPhone will record location information when you take a photo you can easily navigate to that location simply by selecting the photo from your camera roll. IQ Routes remain, allowing TomTom to use the actual speed data collected from millions of users to accurately calculate the travel time of a user's route allowing for rush hour, traffic lights and even shopping crowds. You can also opt for fastest or shortest routes, eco friendly routes (using least fuel) or walking routes and the like. In most cases, the default IQ Route option will be all you ever need.
iOS 4 multitasking now means that you can still get your TomTom directions while the iPhone is doing something else, which is cool although I tend to want my iPhone just being a satnav while I am driving to be honest with you. iOS 4 does come into its own on an iPhone 4 with TomTom though, in the guise of superb high resolution graphics to take advantage of the Retina display which makes for sharper maps. The increased processing power of the iPhone 4 also results in much more responsive menus and better all round routing performance in terms of both calculating speed and GPS performance.
I bemoaned the lack of the official car kit in that original review, but that has long since been rectified albeit at quite a price. The car kit has been available for some time now, all the bugs have been worked out as far as we can tell from actually using the thing, and if you need somewhere to stick your iPhone that will also boost the GPS signal and charge your handset, then it's the obvious option. In my personal experience with the TomTom for iPhone app though, I haven't found it to be a necessary expense. In both the cars that I've used the iPhone as a satnav unit I have had no problems in both establishing and retaining a solid GPS signal during rural or city driving. I have an in-car cigarette lighter adapter to provide power to the iPhone which cost less than £20 (and you need something, as satnav usage sucks the life out the battery faster than a vampire at a Twilight fan convention) and a beanbag to keep it steady atop the dashboard. Here comes another unavoidable pun, sorry: your mileage may vary.
The latest updates to the TomTom for iPhone app have done enough to move it from being an excellent satnav to being a truly remarkable one. I don't give many products a 10 out of 10 rating as they have nowhere to go after that, but TomTom for iPhone has now reached that ultimate destination.
Please Note: the specific app reviewed here was "TomTom Western Europe" although the features and functionality should be the same whichever map set you purchase. You do need to be running iOS 4+ in order to make full use of all the TomTom for iPhone functionality whichever option you choose though.