Everything's got an app in this day and age but, until TomTom walked into IFA 2011, the same couldn't be said for satnavs. Now, the arrival of the top of the line TomTom GO Live 1535 and its 5-inch touchscreen, will shortly be joined by Messrs Yelp, Expedia, Twitter and TripAdvisor on-board to bring the added value that PND (personal navigational device) makers are always on the look out for.
Why is this relevant when you've got the Internet on your laptop or your mobile? Well, the situation, as described by TomTom's vice-president of product marketing, John Blackett, is one of an ad hoc basis. You're off on your travels and, in-car, or certainly en route, you decide that perhaps you need a nearby hotel or restaurant or simply to tell the people you're supposed to be meeting that you're on your way. In fact, Blackett was kind enough to talk Pocket-lint through such a scenario on the demo screen on the show floor in Berlin.
There's definitely mileage in having these apps on there. They certainly do no harm and, whether it's a chance for your passenger to alleviate some boredom or you really are looking for local services, then they're implemented nicely, clearly and with good usability. To be picky, there is a little bit too much in-and-out if you're looking, say, to find a hotel on Expedia; you first check out the reviews on TripAdvisor and finally make sure that there's no traffic on the way. A fully integrated system with all the info displayed from one app would work better, but that might not have been possible for licensing reasons as well as technical issues.
What has been organised nicely behind the scenes is that none of the apps just chuck open their large and unfiltered databases to sift through. Instead, they respond to your location automatically and only bring back results of hotels or restaurants that are nearby and with rooms available. With the Expedia info, you get prices, what utilities are included, whether there's Wi-Fi, parking etc, but sadly it stops short of a "Book Now" button to do all the work.
Fortunately, what is provided is a one touch connection to a phone call which will be routed through your mobile connected to your satnav over Bluetooth. You will actually have to speak to a human being, or a close approximation of one, to sort out the details at the other end.
The interesting, and possibly completely pointless, part is the Twitter integration. You can set your TomTom to automatically check you in to places by tweeting out that you've arrived at your specific destination to your followers when you get there. At any point on the road, you can also tweet that you're on your way, to wherever it is, with either a standard message or an adapted one if you've got a moment/passenger to do the text entry. What's really nice is that you can also set up the TomTom Twitter app to automatically update your ETA via a tweet if it changes by around 10 per cent of your total journey time.
Of course, the big issue about all of this is that these tweets go out to everyone who follows you, and you may decide that spamming your entire crew is not a good idea. It also happens to leave an internet record of just how far away from your empty home you might be, but that's your paranoia to deal with as you will.
The TomTom Go Live 1535 otherwise is what you'd expect. It's designed to replace the 2010 released 1005, costs a top of the line $250 in the States and is the pinnacle of where the company is at in terms of touchscreen technology which, for the record, has reached the status of "pretty good actually".
The apps will only be appearing on this model for the moment, but the company is working on an upgrade option that will most likely only be open to the TomTom GO Live 1005. The 1535 is pegged for launch in October in the US, Germany and one or two of the Asian markets. Expect it to arrive at its destination in the UK and elsewhere closer to Christmas.