TomTom for iPhone v1.3 with HDTraffic review
We aren't normally in the game of reviewing software revisions for an iPhone app, after all, there is no point wasting your time to tell you about some bug fixes or stability updates ... snooze.
So why are you reading? Because TomTom for iPhone v1.3 is actually a major overhaul that sees a number of new features added, that in turn has a massive difference on how the software works and what is now offered.
There are two key new elements to the software: Google Local Search and HD Traffic.
Both have been ported from the company's line of dedicated personal navigation devices (Rather geekily called PNDs). Local Search as the name suggests allows you to search Google within the app and then have that address automatically set as a navigation point.
Search near me, search in a city, search near home or search near a destination are all available and it certainly saves you a lot of time jumping between the iPhone's browser and the TomTom for iPhone app.
The search interface is simple to use and you see the relevant information like the address, where it is on the map, and a phone number for you to press to ring. Any additional information is also shown on a separate connected page.
Where Local Search comes in handy is when you are looking for a specific hotel, restaurant or car dealership for example, as chances are, Google knows where it is. As we've said, Local Search is just one of the big hitters here for version 1.3, however it's also the one that's free.
HD Traffic, TomTom's fantastic traffic service that, through a number of different methods, monitors road usage and can then help you avoid traffic jams altogether, is now included. We say included, however you will have to pay for the service with an in-app payment.
The service, which will be based on users opting in to a subscription model, will come in daily, weekly, monthly and yearly packages with drivers able to buy the extra feature via the app to use straight away. Handy if stuck in a jam.
Once you've opted to go HD Traffic then the app gets to work making sure you are not going to get stuck in a jam. Like other HD Traffic ready devices in the TomTom range, a ruler on the right-hand side of the screen shows possible trouble spots on your journey and then gives you the option to avoid.
In practice and it's a system that works, and works well making this a necessity for all driving trips, and not just the ones where you don't know where you are going.
But wait, there's more.
Elsewhere music playback, which was added to version 1.2, will now fade in and out when instructions are given enabling you to hear what's going on.
Other features include automatic day/night mode based on sunrise/sunset times rather than actual light available, and of course the promise of the latest map data from TomTom owned Tele Atlas.
Disappointingly the company's successful Mapshare service that allows you to make and submit changes to the mapping data hasn't made it to this version. Let's hope for that next time.
Hoping to emulate Google Maps, TomTom has also introduced a pinch to zoom feature that lets you zoom out of where you are so you can see the surrounding map by pinching your fingers on the screen. It's something that up until now hasn't been possible and something most people believe would be.
Sounds great until you have a go. While the pinch to zoom works, you can't drag the map around the screen as pressing on the map launches the menu system. You might be able to pinch "out", but that's not much use if you can't re-centre your map.
And here's the good news, for current TomTom for iPhone users it's a free update so all you've got to decide is whether to sign up to HD Traffic. If you don't the feature doesn't really show itself to you so it won't be annoying.
If, however, you've yet to get into the world of satnav and GPS on your iPhone then this certainly brings a number of cool features to the mix. Is it better than its nearest rival CoPilot? It's really a personal preference thing rather than a feature set, but this is worth checking out.