A couple of times already we reviewed GPS and navigation apps that used maps provided by TomTom. Today, we’ll check out the real deal, navigation app made by TomTom, and see where it stands among the competition. The app is free, giving you 75 kilometers (around 50 miles) to drive before needing to buy a pro version. Free kilometers reset every month, meaning that, in theory, you can use the app for free without time limitations. But, since the free navigation distance can be described as humble, at best, a better part of the users will eventually buy it, or switch to a different navigation solution.
After TomTom GPS and Navigation is installed, users will be prompted to download the map of their region, and this is one of the shortcomings of the app. Maps aren’t divided by countries, they are sorted by regions. For instance, the US are divided into a couple of regions, Europe also, with just a few countries (Russia, France) having the luxury of their own, separate maps. This leads to maps taking a large chunk of storage space, bed news for users always lacking storage.
The UI is excellently designed. The map doesn’t have tons of POI (Points of Interest); instead, you can select only gas stations and parking spots to be shown, easing up the process of selecting a destination. Selecting a destination is also quite easy; just long tap on a selected destination point and in just a few moments a route will be calculated, and you’ll be ready to go.
We like the fact that alternate routes are present in the free version of the app (actually, the free version doesn’t have any limitations, except the fixed number of miles you can drive before having to buy the license), as well as the number of alternate routes TomTom GPS and Navigation app can offer you. Even for extremely short routes (shorter than 5 miles), the app will offer three or more alternate routes, giving you plenty of choices if not liking the default one.
The app sports a settings menu that’s easy to navigate around. You can search destinations, see your current route, and the list of recent destinations, as well as explore “My Places,” like marked locations, work location and the location of your contacts (at least for those who share it), which can be extremely helpful during everyday trips. To add new location just long tap on it, and select “add to my locations” after the context menu appears. The app has a night theme, as well as a couple of user settings that can be customized, like distance units (miles and feet, miles and yards, kilometers), power saving options, voices for turn-by-turn navigation (the app supports around 40 different languages), and various warnings for safety hazards, or speed cameras.
We really liked the side-strip, appearing while navigation is switched on, showing you upcoming speed cameras, and gas stations, a great feature not to be found in other apps. Maps are detailed and highly accurate, include all roads and streets, as well as lots of speed cameras and almost all parking places as well as gas stations. Users can report map changes, such as new street names, road works, or different speed limitations, and we are glad TomTom allowed users to actively contribute in making maps even better.
We didn’t like the complex way of clearing a route. You can’t just tap on the destination and clear it, you’ll have to open the menu, and then go to Current Route; after you enter Current Route, just select Clear Route from the list and that’s it. This can really mess up the experience since almost all other navigation apps managed to make this much, much easier.
Overall, TomTom Navigation and GPS app for smartphones is great. Maps are highly detailed and extremely accurate, the UI is easy to navigate and simple to use while at the same time looking awesome, alternate routes are calculated quick and easy, and the app is free, at least for people who don’t travel much. Also, the app performs quite snappy, and won’t drain your battery in a just couple of minutes.
We didn’t like the poor amount of free miles to drive before a license must be bought, an inexplicably complex way of canceling the current route, as well as huge size of the maps. This can’t be changed since TomTom navigation doesn’t offer separate countries maps, you must download a whole region in order to use the navigation (for instance, map of Eastern Europe takes just short of 900 MB, which is a huge size). Also, you won’t find walking navigation mode, only cars are supported. And there’s no satellite overlay, but that’s not a big deal, since accurate maps, with accurate roads, are the most important parts of every navigation app. If wanting to see a satellite view, use Google Maps.
TomTom GPS Navigation Traffic app is available for Android and iOS. The app is free (with a mileage limit); a 1-year license costs around $18, while a three-year license costs $39.25.