Hands on with the new TomTom for Android satellite navigation app

TomTom for Android has been an awfully long time coming. Having been available on iOS now for a number of years, the global satellite navigation giant has been somewhat tardy in bringing it to Android. But, it's officially official now, we're getting it on Android in October. The biggest question still remains the same though -- why buy this on an OS that comes with a perfectly good satellite navigation system built in for free? We went hands on at IFA 2012 in Berlin to see if maybe we could answer that. 

First things first, TomTom is a really nice looking application. The interface is well designed -- and by that we mean it's designed as if this were a stand alone TomTom device. One of the not so great points about Google Maps Navigation is that the in app menus are still designed like a smartphone app. TomTom has some really large, bold icons that make for simple use in the car. 

All the necessary information is present too, speed, distance to destination, arrival time as you would expect from an app such as this. Also available is HD traffic, which during the demonstration showed just how bad an idea driving in Berlin in the afternoon can be. Speed camera locations are also available in TomTom -- not that anyone at AC speeds anywhere, ever -- and the locations are community built. For example, if you drive past a location not registered and you come across a mobile speed camera, by tapping the relevant icon you can report this information back for inclusion in the database. 

The demo unit also shows the universal TomTom docking system in action. This is perfect for use with an Android smartphone, as it has adjustable arms to suit the differing sizes of devices. It also has a microUSB charging facility so there's still only need to have one device plugged into the cigarette lighter socker. 

We're going to have to wait until October though to really get to grips with TomTom for Android. No matter how good it may look on a show floor, real world performance is what matters here. There are definitely features in TomTom which is going to make it justifiable for regular drivers over something like Google Maps Navigation, but price is going to play a big part in that decision. 

And as yet, we still don't know that price. TomTom informed us that the pricing information will be announced at launch, but that it will be available in Google Play in markets around the world sometime in October. It does feel like a full on TomTom navigation system though, and with an application available for a smartphone, it makes you wonder how long the stand alone systems will continue to sell. You can find our hands on video after the break.

  • Well... it might be relevant to know whether the app includes all the map data, stored on the device, or if it requires a working data connection to use it. Having all the map data on the device would be worth paying for. It would be nice if Navigation worked even when you're out of range of a cell tower. Especially if you're on AT&T (or T-Mo or Sprint). LOL!
  • This is true. Onboard maps are a definite plus once you get off the beaten track (out of the city and off of the freeway). Once you drop into Edge land server based maps are pretty useless unless you remember to cache the entire area before you leave, and never change your plans. If you never drive America (or Canada) you will never need this app. Europe is so overdeveloped you really can't find many places without 3G coverage.
  • It doesn't need data. Either way, 3g coverage is poor while on the road here in the UK. offline is a must
  • The iOS application does not require data but is nearly 4Gb for the UK version. I just hope they include an option to move to SD card
  • And hopefully REALLY move to the SD card instead of the internal storage that looks like an SD card to apps. My 64GB SD on my Gal S 3 is going to waste.
  • You can save quadrants of map data and use that offline with Google Maps....
  • Yeah, no. That's next to useless unless you plan well in advance. Not very useful when you want to get in the car, enter the address and go. Really not useful when you get in your car and you have sucky 3g or worse data, which is when you usually find out that you need to save those quadrants. I had Garmin on my Windows Phone device, and it was awesome having the full maps available without ever needing a data connection.
  • It also doesn't ALWAYS work (sometimes I can't get Google Maps to launch on my Xoom when not connected to a network for some reason... just get a black screen).
  • I've already found on a trip from Minnesota to Chicago I can't capture enough areas before Maps tells me I'm at my limit. So pretty much useless.
  • I just want the dock. That looks really awesome. What is the speaker-looking thingy above the phone? Is that a speaker? That would be awesome too, but I don't see it plugged into the phone's headphone port. How does it work? This may all be answered in the video... it says "unavailable" when I try to play it, so I assume YouTube is still processing it or something.
  • Currently on the iTunes store, it is $59.99 and a 1.41GB install. I would think that when it launches on Android that the pricing will be the same. Thankfully it is much lower than the $100 it costs when launched on iOS.
  • I don't think they will have that many people interested at $60 for a map/nav program on devices that already have at least one, but usually TWO "free" ones already installed. Maybe $10?
  • Costing $60 Currently I'm not sure it's worth it... That's $60 more than the free option... no matter what the extras are... it's definitely not worthit
  • Definitely worth it if you live in one of the countries where google nav still sucks. I am in Korea, if this works for Korea it is well worth it!!! Sign me up!!
  • If the map data is local (but updated continuously when a data connection is available) and it is otherwise better than Google Maps I might pay up to $20 for it. The reality is that Google Maps is very very good so I am only willing to pay for the difference in the two products.
  • I'll keep the FREE Google Maps thank you...
  • I've used Navigon for awhile and I really like having a navigation app that's not tied to your data connection. It's very nice. However, I've never been able to use navigation on my phone WHILE BEING PLUGGED INTO THE POWER OUTLET and still draining battery. I would absolutely use this as a replacement navigator if I could land a solution that would keep my phone charged while I was using it.
  • get a proper charger (no it doesn't have to be the OEM one). I had the same problem and realized the phone thought it was a USB jack (and not an AC power source) and only gave about 500mA of juice causing it to slowly drain even when charging if I was using a lot of things (screen, gps, data, etc.). Now I don't have that problem anymore. 100% brightness, GPS, data, bluetooth all running at once on a galaxy s2 and it still charges the phone. Hope this helps.
  • There still seems to be an issue with the video. One nice thing about the hardware TomTom - it is loud and robust enough to be heard in a car. Many smartphones are a bit weak for that.
  • YouTube really hated it, seemed to be 'processing' all afternoon. I've uploaded it again so it should be fixed now guys :)
  • I would not mind to pay $60 USD ... if I can buy one and use it for both my phone and my wife's phone ... and my daughter phone. If the license is tight to a specific phone, then I will stick with Google Maps.
  • It will be sold through Google Play, so like all Android apps obtained this way it will be bound to your Google account. They didn't say anything about a license just that it would be downloadable from the Play Store. So you'd probably need to give your account to your wife an daughter...
  • Or set up a "family" account which all users can add as a second account. ;-)
  • I just hope it's more accurate than google maps. I've been using it as a test for routes I already know and it's taking me too far out of the way. Not even using the simpliest v fastest which I get, but it's giving me directions which make no sense. (although techincally accurate)
  • Wait... why is this being compared to Google Maps when that app needs a data connection? Navigation apps are mostly useful when you're in a foreign country where roaming fees are enormous!!!
  • Because, with effort, you can download about 6 map regions for use with Google Maps, now. But without data, there is no nav function.
  • Because you can download portions of Google Maps for offline use?
  • I have used TomTom for several years, it was always good.These days Google maps does what I need, but If I was travelling more a TomTom solution would be first choice. The only issues would be the stability of the GPS pick up in the phone and the clarity of sound from it. My S2 is OK, but could be stronger on both.
  • Downloading portions of Google Maps isn't the same. Try to do rerouting w/ offline Google Maps (hint: turn off your data connection to test it) if you're in an area w/o data.
    You'll find out why it doesn't work that well ;-) AFAIK, TomTom is full offline. I use NDrive currently but wish I had TomTom (used it on Windows Mobile wayyyy back and thought it was more accurate and better prompting). And I use a prepaid plan w/ zippo data that costs me a whole $40/yr (not month), so $60 for lifetime map updates would be fine though it'd be nice if it were a bit lower since there's CoPilot for only $20...
  • I will be honest. I'm HIGHLY hesitant with anything Tom Tom. The $400 high end device that I got has been a flaming POS since day one. The UI is poor, the software crashes all the time, the maps are not all that great.
  • Hey AC. There are enough opinions on price....might I suggest a poll. How much would you be willing to pay for a feature rich mapping app that also has offline storage? A. $10
    B. $20
    C. $30
    D. $40
    E. $50
    F. $60
    G. Whatever it takes!
    H. Free is good enough for me. Just a thought. =)
  • For all of you relying on your phone and "requiring" offline maps how about ya just keep a map in the car...Ya know like we used to use in the old days lol. Amazes me how dependent on electronics people are.
  • a map is inefficient, has no back light, can be easily torn or spilled on, is not automatically updated.. I could go on. Are you REALLY that naive to think that technology is not an improvement over the "old way" of doing things? Seriously, this is a foolish post where you meant to sound smart but just dug yourself a hole. Now lie in it please.
  • I love that dock too. I may have missed what brand/model it is but it looks good holding the HTC phone. One X is it?? Anyhow, I would like to compare TomTom app with CoPilot and GoogleNav. I have CoPilot and have never really used it to it's full potential because of the irritating voice. Google is not much better but I know they've sure stepped up their game millions fold since my introduction to it in 2008 or 9. I paid heaps for CoPilot only for them to create another app and then want to charge full price to long time old app users. I have both the old paid version and the "free" one out with the bare essentials in it. Maybe I'll give TomTom a try of there's a trial/free version around say September?? Ah who knows.
  • You should avoid any speeding fines by using the latest tomtom android speed cameras sound warnings, I have found the POI's and the instruction how to install them on speedcamerawarning . com so that they'll work with sound unlike some others