TomTom's Live connected navigation service gets more useful with the addition of travel-specific apps by Yelp, TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Twitter. The TomTom Go Live 1535M will be the first device to take advantage of the new functionality, with owners of the Go Live 2353M gaining parity through a software update this fall.
The new apps will live in the Services menu and, to be fair, "Services" is a more apt description of the new functions than "Applications," but we shan't split hairs. What most of the apps do is provide access to a wider selection of points of interest (POIs) than could be preinstalled on the unit, along with secondary information about those POIs.
The Yelp app, for example, allows you to search Yelp's online database of locations by name or by browsing categories such as Hotels & Travel, Restaurants, Nightlife, or Art & Entertainment. For each returned search result, the Yelp app will provide a user-generated average rating along with the standard address and phone number information. You can even drill down and view individual user reviews on the device to help you decide if the restaurant or hotel is question is the one for you. TripAdvisor offers nearly identical functionality, but with an emphasis on out-of-town travel.
Searching for a hotel using Expedia returns not only user reviews and hotel ratings, but current rates and availability. Ideally, you could search for a hotel from the road using the TomTom's Expedia app, find an available room within your price range, and--using the unit's Bluetooth hands-free calling functionality and the phone number supplied by that POI listing--call and book a room.
Interestingly, Yelp, Expedia, and TripAvisor are integrated also into the core POI search engine, so if you're just doing a standard search for hotels in the preloaded database, entries that have reviews or information available from the connected services will feature an icon that leads to the enhanced content.
The fourth and last bit of TomTom Live's new app integration is Twitter. Of course, we can't have people hurtling down the freeway tweeting away using their PND's touch screen, so TomTom has automated the tweeting process. Before setting off on a trip, you decides whether you'd like to tweet your route. You can then select and customize a canned message--for example, "I will arrive at the park at..."--and have your estimated time of arrival appended to the end. Once your trip is under way, the unit will send out your tweet. In the event of a change in your ETA, there will be subsequent updates. So, if you get stuck in traffic on the way to the park, your friends will know. Once you arrive at your location, the unit also gives you the option to send a check-in tweet.
As we stated earlier, the TomTom Go Live 1535M will be the first unit to gain this new functionality, with the Go Live 2535M following closely behind. App connectivity will require a subscription to TomTom's Live data service, a year of which is included in the 1535M's $249 MSRP. Live Services also include TomTom's HD Traffic, Google Local POI search, fuel price search, and weather updates.