TomTom for Android pictures and hands-on

We told you that TomTom for Android would be launching this year and the date has now been set. "We will launch in October," Gerard Hines, VP mobile at TomTom, tells Pocket-lint, although he won't be drawn on a specific date.

We sat down with TomTom to have a quick look at TomTom for Android at IFA 2012 in Berlin.

TomTom for Android is a feature-rich app, all about navigation. This is true to TomTom's ethos, which is all about getting from A to B in a car via the best possible route.

As such, TomTom is providing the full navigation experience for Android users with its new apps and from what we've seen of this app, it's very impressive. It mirrors most of the features of the iOS app, but the layout is different, using a side cluster for information.

We hate to say it, but at first glance, we think that TomTom for Android looks better than TomTom for iPhone, although we've yet to have the new app out on the road for a proper street test.

Using the app seems straightforward too. It's easy to operate, with TomTom using icons that match those across its range of personal navigation devices, so if you're moving from a TomTom PND, you'll be right at home.

You get features such as lane guidance and IQ Routes, which will select the best route for your journey based on trends on the roads for the time of day you're travelling.

We also like that you can fire-up contacts, to access the data in the device and save inputting info again. The app will run in the background, and calling and music is all supported.

We've also had a look at TomTom's clever new cradle for Android. This has multi-position arms, so you can tailor the cradle to fit your device, connecting via Bluetooth and microUSB.

The cradle offers an external mic and speaker and will charge your device as you drive. There's also an innovative mic extension, so you can move the mic to your lapel or sun visor to avoid feedback from the speaker.

In terms of details, you'll be able to download the TomTom for Android APK from Google Play. This will be separate from the map content, which will then be downloaded from TomTom's servers.

You'll want to make sure you're in a friendly Wi-Fi zone, because the maps do take up a bit of space depending on what you opt for. Hines told us that Western Europe will be approximately 3GB of data, UK and Ireland about 1.5GB.

However, you will be able to customise the level of detail in the maps so they take up less space, if this is a concern.

The advantage of splitting the application like this is that TomTom can make incremental updates without hitting you with a hefty download: that can tweak the APK for a quick refresh simply and easily.

In addition to the standard features, TomTom for Android will offer a range of in-app purchases. These will reflect those you get in TomTom for iPhone, so you can subscribe to HD Traffic or speed cameras through the app.

In terms of compatibility, TomTom will be announcing device compatibility closer to launch. Hines told us that Android 2.2 and above was supported and that no tablets will be supported in the first release of TomTom for Android.

We're guessing that HTC will feature on the compatibility list, having seen TomTom for Android running on a couple of HTC devices in the halls at IFA, but we'll have to wait until October for the specifics.

As for the price, this is one point on which TomTom is keeping mum. We speculated that it would match the price of TomTom for iPhone (£49.99 for UK and Ireland), but for now TomTom is refusing to comment. 

We'll bring you a full TomTom for Android review once the app launches.



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