On my first few attempts to navigate to a contact stored in my address book, the app asked me to double-check every chunk of the address entry, from the state to the street name to the street number, making me wonder why I didn't just key the destination in myself. My next attempt at navigating to a contact happened shortly after hopping off a flight from San Francisco to Atlanta, where a similar issue occurred.
To be fair, I later learned that this issue only popped up when requesting contacts that are out of state or before the app has had a chance to really nail down and lock into your current location. Navigating to contacts in the same state or city (particularly after giving the app a few moments to breathe after the initial installation or after dramatically changing parts of the country) was a seamless process and should be for most users. Tap, confirm, and go.
Finally, I noticed that the app doesn't work on my tablet's lack of a wireless data connection and phone function -- which would be ironic because the TomTom app's strongest selling point is that it can work without these things -- but the omission also possibly has something to do with the Nexus 7's high-resolution screen. Whatever the reason, incompatibility with one of Google's flagship devices is not a good sign., possibly because of the
Is it worth the money?
At $49.99 for the version of the TomTom app that includes maps of the U.S. and Canada, this is no impulse purchase. No doubt, most of you are already turning your nose up in disgust at being asked to pay that much for an app! However, consider that quarterly map updates are free for life after purchase, and there is some value to this purchase. HD Traffic is an in-app purchase for $2.99 for one month or $19.99 for one year (a $15.89 savings), which will only really be useful to commuters and navigators in areas with heavier-than-average traffic.
There are other versions of the app, including one for $37.99 with maps of the U.S. only, and one for $59.99 that covers all of North America, including Mexico. Other country-specific apps such as TomTom Brazil, TomTom New Zealand, and TomTom Turkey (which I just enjoy saying aloud) and apps for continents and regions such as Southeast Asia and Australia top out at $74.99 for the most expensive localization: TomTom Europe.
CoPilot Live Premium has been around for longer, is about as fully featured as the TomTom app, and is cheaper. However, it doesn't offer as many local versions and some users have reported finding it to be a bit unstable. CoPilot GPS also offers a pared-down free version with offline maps that is usable for off-the-grid navigation without a big up-front investment. (You can upgrade to the premium level of functionality for a mere $19.99.) Navfree USA is also free and offline, if a bit simplistic.
However, the 800-pound gorilla here is obviously Google Maps, which has a pretty good headlock on the Android navigation market being both free and of an extremely high quality, as well as coming pre-installed on most Android handsets these days.
Judged by itself or against a standalone PND, the TomTom app for Android is definitely worth the $37.99 that TomTom is asking. It's a well-designed navigation app that is great for travelers who can't guarantee that they'll have a data connection for map data, but still want premium turn-by-turn navigation. However, if you're looking to save a few bucks, there are cheaper, freer options available that will also get you there just fine.