Pricing: Free to existing users. UK maps £54.99; W. Europe £59.99; Europe £79.99. Live Services 59p per day/£37.99 per year.
We wouldn’t normally reconsider a smartphone sat-nav app for a mere software dot release. After all, the first version of TomTom’s iPhone sat-nav system was good, but it didn’t quite blow us away. Nevertheless, the 1.3 update brings something very significant to the iPhone: TomTom’s Live Services. These may not be the only mobile data-powered sat-nav facilities on the market anymore, but they still pack some powerful capabilities.
The 1.3 update is free to existing TomTom for iPhone owners, but the Live Services it supports aren’t. The menu now contains an entry specifically for HD Traffic, which simply presents the various subscription options available. These range in price from a single day’s service for 59p to a whole year for £37.99, with one and three month options in between. This is around half as much as the subscription price for TomTom’s standalone devices.
The iPhone version of HD Traffic uses the same data as TomTom’s standalone Live devices receive, which anyone can preview on the company’s http://www.tomtom.com/hdtraffic/website and have a read about in our TomTom HD Traffic review. So it’s not just based on TMC traffic updates, but also uses the mobile phone triangulation system TomTom has developed in partnership with Vodafone. In our experience, this provides the most accurate and dependable jam detection currently available in the UK, although it now has some serious competition in other European countries from Navteq’s competing service, which hasn’t arrived in the UK yet.
Although the general map interface of TomTom’s iPhone app resembles that of its standalone devices, the traffic updates are implemented a bit differently. By default, your only indication that these are enabled is a little glowing car icon in the top right hand corner of the screen. However, you can touch this to call up a more familiar sidebar illustrating traffic in the next portion of the journey. The formatting is slightly different to the standalone devices, but the information provided is similar, showing the duration of the current jam.
When new incidents that will affect your journey are reported, the app will automatically work out if there’s a quicker route available, then ask if you want to take it via a pop-up at the top of the screen. Annoyingly, you must provide finger input to accept the suggestion, which you shouldn’t really do whilst driving. The TomTom iPhone app doesn’t provide voice operation, unlike the GO x40 and x50 series Live devices. So you can’t use a verbal command to accept or reject the suggestion of a new route.