TomTom bringing HD Traffic to iPhone, building Android app

Users of TomTom's app for iPhone finally get to benefit from the data they provide, and Android users will be getting an app of their own.

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
2 min read

TomTom Live Traffic map
Users can try out TomTom's HD Traffic data and routing algorithms for free at TomTom.com/livetraffic. Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET

TomTom's app for iPhone has been around for some time now and has been keeping pace with the feature set offered by TomTom's standalone navigation devices. TomTom's newest feature--HD Traffic, which debuted on the latest generation of TomTom devices--is now making its way to the TomTom app for iOS devices. We learned about TomTom's HD Traffic service back at CES 2011, but here's a quick refresher.

TomTom's traffic data service, HD Traffic, is already available in 18 countries for TomTom's portable navigation devices, or PNDs. The service uses data collected from third-party fleets, third-party incident data, TomTom's established IQ routes, historical data, and algorithms, and, uniquely, every TomTom Live connected device on the road (interestingly, this data pool already includes users running the current TomTom iPhone app, even if they aren't taking advantage of the Traffic service).

TomTom's data centers crunch this data and spit it back out to TomTom HD Traffic users every 2 minutes--up from the every 10-15-minutes refresh rate of the RDS-TMC system that provides traffic to many devices. HD Traffic also has the advantage over RDS-TMC of providing traffic data for surface roads, an area frequently neglected by basic traffic services.

TomTom app for iPhone
iPhone users already have access to standard traffic info, but will soon gain HD Traffic. TomTom

During the course of its presentation, TomTom showed us a very interesting demonstration in which a one-way, 25-mile commute was planned from Rodeo, Calif., to San Francisco every day for the week preceding Memorial Day. TomTom's HD Traffic data was able to save an average of 8 minutes per day for five days. Assuming it's as good both ways, that's up to 1 hour and 20 minutes saved from sitting in traffic every week. Theoretically, of course. Your mileage may vary.

As I mentioned earlier, in the current version of the TomTom app for iPhone (version 1.7), users are actively contributing data to TomTom's HD Traffic service, but not benefiting from it. However in the next revision (which should hit the App Store whenever it makes it through Apple's approval process) TomTom app users will be able to get a piece of the action. It'll cost them, though. Unlocking HD Traffic requires an in-app subscription of $19.99 per year. Users who have already paid for the standard TomTom traffic subscription when the update hits should be automatically upgraded to the HD Traffic service.

In other news, TomTom representatives have confirmed that a version of TomTom's app is being developed for Android devices. Details and time frame are sketchy at this point with no word on pricing or the inclusion of the HD Traffic service--although we'd be surprised if the app shipped without what's arguably the biggest advantage that TomTom has over the free Google Maps navigation software.