TomTom was relatively early to jump on the smartphone bandwagon with its TomTom for iPhone app. But it has studiously ignored the increasingly capable Android platform, until now. At last, you can install TomTom-powered navigation on your Android-run smartphone. With the free Google Maps Navigation providing stiff competition for nothing, the question is whether a premium sat-nav app has enough extra to be worth shelling out for.
Things don't get off to the best of starts at the installation stage. Annoyingly, at launch the TomTom app will only work with screen resolutions of 800 or 854 x 480, which currently counts out the Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X, as well as most tablets. This is a major drawback, and is sure to subdue sales amongst premium device users, who are most likely to want to shell out for high-end navigation software. TomTom has pledged support for higher-resolution screens soon, but we opted to test the TomTom app on a Motorola Motoluxe to be sure of compatibility. You also need Android 2.2 or higher, but every recent handset should have this anyway, or the option to upgrade.
Prices start at £30.99 for UK and Ireland maps, with Western Europe costing £39.99 and the whole of Europe £49.99, although these figures are an introductory offer for an unspecified time only. There are also versions for most of the rest of the world, including North America, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, but only Brazil in South America, and just Southern Africa. It's worth noting that this is a big app. The initial download is less than 25MB, but when you first load the software it will then bring down the maps associated with your chosen purchase. The European software we tested takes up a cool 3.31GB, and there's no option at this stage of choosing just to install some of the countries covered - it's the whole of Europe, or nothing. So you will need to have at least that much space available on your device's internal memory or removable storage. On the plus side, unlike Google Maps, you will be able to use this software when you have no mobile data connection, as all the maps are stored locally.
Once the app is installed and running, the interface has most of the same features as the iPhone 5 compatible version, although the design aesthetics and menu configuration are quite different. Simply tap the map to call up the menu, where you can set your destination, or create a multi-waypoint trip, as well as access settings and the shop. Destination options include navigating to a full UK postcode, an address entered in the usual city-street-number order, or one of your contacts. There is no keyword address search, but the full category-based Points of Interest (POI) system does have this feature.
You can save favourites and a home location, as well as browse a list of recently found destinations. However, conspicuous by its absence is Google Local Search, a particularly strange omission on a Google-powered phone. There's also no option to enter raw coordinates, although not many people use this frequently. Once you have found your destination, IQ Routes is used for calculation. Real average traffic speeds are taken into account, based on time of day and day of week, so your route could be different depending on when you want to travel. In previous testing, we have found this provides much more realistic journey-time estimations than sat-navs that don't have this feature.