Sat-nav Wars: Nokia Ovi Maps records your voice, TomTom offers Darth Vader

The world of sat-navs has been shaken to its very core as Nokia's Ovi Maps let you record your own directions, while TomTom gives you Star Wars voices

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Big news in the world of sat-nav voices! Nokia's Ovi Maps now puts your own voice in charge of directions, while TomTom is using the force to guide you with the voice of Darth Vader and others from the Star Wars series.

Be your own navigator: Own Voice for Ovi Maps

To get your phone directing you in your own voice, first make sure your version of Ovi Maps is up to date. Then download Own Voice for Ovi Maps from the Ovi Store. Fire up Own Voice, and choose to create a new 'voice pack'.

You'll then be asked to record your own take on 54 instructions. That sounds like a lot, but it takes no time at all: most of the time comes from saying different numbers. It's annoying to have to press record at the start of every instruction, but simply pressing the skip button takes you to the next one when you've said your piece. At any point you can go back and listen to your sound clips.

Once you've given your voice pack a name and description, upload it to the voice pack servers. From there you can share by email, Twitter and Facebook. You can't just start using your voice pack in Ovi Maps: you have to upload it to Nokia for public consumption, then find your voice pack in the store, then download it back to your phone. Which is stupid.

With these building blocks, the sat-nav will instruct you. You don't need to stick to the script: why say "turn right" when you can say "turn left -- no, right!" Why say "You have reached your destination" when you can say "Finally! Took you long enough!" Useful users have already created voice packs in different languages, such as pirate. Perhaps we'll finally see those Tom Waits, David Bowie, Mariella Frostrup and Brian Blessed sat-navs we've always wanted.

In six parsecs, turn right: Star Wars on TomTom

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away -- unless you take the ring road -- TomTom has added Star Wars voices to its satnav devices. For £7.95, you can download Darth Vader telling you to turn left, right, or to the dark side. C-3PO follows in June -- oh dear. Yoda available in July will be, hmmm. From August, Han Solo will be helping you complete the Kessel Run in double-quick time by nipping down the slip road. With instructions like "Take the 'Sith' exit", these probably aren't suited to high-stress journeys.

We're keeping our fingers crossed for Chewbacca.