Geek: Great voice guidance; clear mapping; good junction display
Weak: Fiddly; information hard to read; false camera alerts
Think sat nav and you’re bound to think TomTom – the name is synonymous with in-car navigation and the company knows a think or two about sat nav. Its TomTom HD UK and Ireland iPhone app was recently updated to endow it with a full-screen display on the iPhone 5, which seemed like a good excuse to try it out.
The menus are clear and while there are plenty of customisation options it’s not overwhelming and you’ll have everything set up as you prefer it and ready to go in no time. Inputting a destination is nice and easy and the TomTom HD app calculated a route extremely quickly. However, if you don’t like the route you’re offered, you need to ask the unit to find an alternative and if you don’t like what it finds for you, you need to recalculate the route to get your original one back. It’s fiddly and sadly sets the tone for the rest of the experience.
Firstly though, let me say that I can’t fault the excellent voice guidance – it’s clear, loud and precise, giving you excellent directions and plenty of confidence. The mapping is also lovely and clear with numerous colour schemes available and when approaching junctions the display changes to show your exit in detail. On the actual navigation front, TomTom HD impresses and delivers. However, it doesn’t feel like it’s been designed with phone in mind. For example, there’s no easy way to stop navigation before reaching your destination – if there is, I certainly couldn’t find it and I was prodding the screen and looking at various menus. Secondly, the information shown on the display is far too small to be legible at any distance whilst in motion – everything you want to know is confined to a tiny strip along the bottom of the screen and you really have to strain to see anything. You can turn camera alerts on but unless you pay for them they won’t be accurate, giving you plenty of false alerts so either pay up or turn them off. And while having all those different map color schemes is great, pay close attention to what you pick – the combination I chose for night time had roads virtually the same colour as the blue arrow representing my car, making it almost impossible to see but I didn’t realise until I actually got under way.
In addition to the camera alerts you can also pay for traffic information, with 1 and 12 month subscriptions available for both and you can also pay for celebrity voices, such as Simpsons characters, but at £3.99 per voice I can’t imagine you would. At £26.99 the TomTom app is reasonably priced, certainly at the same level as rival sat nav apps, but it doesn’t offer anything exceptional to make it stand out. While the navigation itself is excellent, as are the maps, the rest of the app feels lacking and fiddly to use.
Verdict: Excellent navigation is let down buy a fiddly user interface and hard to read information.