The method to input addresses is a little odd– to use a postcode, you need to put it in under the Postcode menu option rather than the Address option. Points of Interest work well (especially good is the ability to find ones in your local area) and as with other phone-based navigation apps, you can also choose to give them a call if you want to know whether they're open.
We didn't really see much complete GPS drop-out during our testing in Bath (though there was a little, see below), though a colleague in London says this was an issue he's experienced a bit with the app. However, we notice that the app wasn't as accurate as we expected it to be – thinking we were on adjacent roads rather than the main one we were driving down.
One thing which surprised us about the TomTom app is that it was a little sluggish when choosing addresses initially and caused our iPhone 3G to lock up a couple of times. Also a problem (and it's the same with the other iPhone navigation apps) is the sometimes slow map update time once you've made a turn. We guess this is due to the obviously less-than-perfect GPS chip rather the TomTom app. However, this is exactly why we're going to wait for the cradle to give it a full review.
Where TomTom tries to improve on other navigation apps is with IQ Routes. And this really is clever stuff. This technology looks at the time other drivers took on the same bit of road at the same time of the day. This results in more accurate ETA times. As you can see, the last time an IQ Route was driven is displayed on the route planning page.
TomTom does includes speed camera information and you can toggle this on and off in the settings - you can do this for IQ routes, too.
Sound levels have been a problem with some of the other iPhone navigation apps, but not with TomTom. You can adjust the volume as well as mute the voice instructions should you wish.
As with the other iPhone navigation apps, taking a call in the midst of navigation means quitting the TomTom app – though it does restart and resume after you've finished. This is never ideal, but is part and parcel of the restrictive single-tasking rules for iPhone apps.
As with almost all iPhone apps, iPod music can continue to play in the background, but when the app speaks a voice command it pauses the music rather than fades it out. This is a clearer solution than the Co-Pilot 'just speak over the music' approach, but it's hardly ideal – we'd prefer it faded. Once in the app, there's no way to control the music apart from via the iPhone headset's pause/resume control or a button on a third-party car dock.
As with its competitor apps, traffic information will reportedly be coming to TomTom for iPhone soon, though we would definitely like to see more TomTom Live internet-connected services such as the fuel price comparison we've seen in other offerings from the company. After all, the iPhone is the perfect device for this.
We also don't know why it's so difficult to provide traffic information now – even the Maps app takes a direct feed from the UK Highways Agency.
So what do we make of it? TomTom for iPhone is a fantastic navigation app, but we can't ignore the fact that the Co-Pilot Live 8 is less than half the price - and that was a very impressive app indeed. TomTom will appeal because of the name, but unless you're determined to spend £60, you might want to plump for the cheaper option. That is unless, of course, you want to wait for the mystical cradle. We'll give that a full review when we get it.
IN CRADLE: Here's TomTom for iPhone working in a cradle, in this case in Belkin's TuneBase FM