TomTom on iPhone: Not so much now?

Hoo doggy. First we thought that we were definitely getting TomTom for the iPhone, giving us 3D, realtime navigation. Then we heard that the iPhone SDK explicitly prohibits just that sort of application. We weren't worried, though, because TomTom told us we'd get it and we, you know, trusted them.

Whoops.

Turns out TomTom was, like many a GPS manufacturer, "Scared [expletive]-less" by the thought that the new iPhone would have 3G, so when a Reuters reporter asked them about it, they said "sure, we'll make some software for it. It'll be grand." So writes Joel Johnson of BoingBoing Gadgets, adding that an anonymous source within TomTom let them know that there's no internal development yet and no prototypes either.

Bummer? Bummer. Here's our worst fear: that line in the SDK agreement is there specifically so that only one company can create turn-by-turn 3D GPS navigation: TeleNav. TeleNav is nice and all, but it costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 a month and they have agreements with AT&T that lock down the GPS on many handsets (we're looking at you, Verizon BlackBerry!) so they can only access the GPS via TeleNav. We at least know that the GPS works in Google Maps, but will Apple really prohibit other companies from using it to make full GPS apps? Are they jonesing for some kickbacks revenue sharing now that they're not getting that from AT&T anymore?

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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There are 22 comments. Add yours.

carlhancock says:

Just because AT&T has a deal with Telenav doesn't mean international providers do and the iPhone App Store is international.

Tom says:

You don't need TeleNav to access the GPS on a BlackBerry. I do it with Google Maps all the time, and there is also a free program called Nav4All that gives voice directions and mapping. It is a bit rough around the edges, but it is free...
Verizon is the only US carrier that locks down the GPS in BlackBerrys.

Dieter Bohn says:

thanks, tom, updated the post.

iamse7en says:

Who cares if the SDK prohibits "real time route guidance" - Someone (TomTom?) will make a free, great app for us jailbroken fellows. Assuming OS 2.0 is released June 27th, I predict fully jailbroken goodness within the week.
Aren't jailbroken apps legal? It's my iPhone and I can do to it as I please.

burnsaa says:

Ya "you'd like to think that wouldn't you!" but apple wants to be all big brothery and not let you do things that you should be able to do. Honestly when WM 8 comes I will definetly be checking that out. It may not be better than whatever version of the iPhone is out but dang it they won't have so many retarded rules set in place just to make money.

carsly says:

Three ways this plays out:
- Apple caves and lets Garmin / TomTom et al access the a-GPS functionality
- Apple sticks to their guns - no nav for you! In which case google or some hotshot developer either creates a web app (not using SDK :P apple) or finds a way around the legalese
- 2.0 firmware jailbreaks and free nav apps galore! Apple won't be able to stop people - I would pay $20-30 for a good nav app instead of upgrading my 3 year old Garmin
AT&T telenav? You might want to check outside, I think that's your business model running away.

supernashkind says:

My friend has the iphone and uses the gps, but finds it slow sometimes. Is this a glitch or is it just because of a slower network?

Tom says:

Its because he has the first gen iPhone that doesn't have a real GPS...
On the subject at hand, I think we are jumping the gun. TomTom may not be developing an app for the iPhone, but that doesn't mean there will be none. Nobody knows for sure what that part of the SDK agreement means just yet.
Like has already been pointed out, it is word for word the same as the GMaps API. I still think that it just means you can't use the Google Maps app as your platform for voice navigation.

lostnfound says:

@supernashkind:
So your friend already has iphone 2.0? Because iphone 1.0 doesn't have a GPS chip in it.

yo says:

TomTom ALREADY has their Navigator 6 software running on Palm Smartphones!! It works great. I use it. It is now selling on sale from Palm.com for $99 including Bluetooth GPS unit. So TomTom could do ths anytime they want at a reasonable price point. Statements like: "companies such as TomTom are said to be worried that if such software becomes popular, they will lose sales of dedicated GPS units." are clearly wrong. It is in the best interest of TomTom and other GPS companies to have their software running on as many platforms as possible.

lostnfound says:

Tom Tom's Navigator 6 software absolutely sucks. It hasn't been updated in quite a long time and it's very user-UNFRIENDLY. I'm holding out for a Garmin or Google solution.

byronchurch says:

I still have TomTom Navigator 5 From my Treo Days I liked it! Had high hopes of running it on my iPhone

Brian Deschamps says:

T2 software is the most advanved, there is no better software then T2.

Brian Deschamps says:

T2 is superior to Garmin's, every body knows that, especially there HD-traffic is abslutely the max

Bob says:

If Apple locks out competitors to GPS on its iphone they will be in violation of E.U. regulations.

David says:

@carsly:
Please tell me how to access gps data from the phone without using the SDK. I'm extremely interested to know.

Kenny says:

I use TomTom Navigator 6 on my Treo as well, it hasn't been updated for a while, but it gets the job done and I really don't see what's user unfriendly about it. Route-finding, map browsing and advanced planning couldn't be much easier, the only tricky issues I've had have been related to using an external GPS unit.
After 18 months of hard use, my Treo is getting a little shakey and I would've liked to upgrade to an iPhone. Unfortunately, Satellite Navigation is too important for my job to be without and I don't want to pay for a new app or maps and software when I have a perfectly good set already. I should be able to install TomTom 6 straight on to the iPhone, but in their infinite wisdom Apple obviously don't want me to do that.
All they've succeeded in doing is turning me away from the iPhone just in time for the launch of the Treo 800. Sunnyvale 1, Cupertino 0.

DG says:

I would Jailbreak my iPhone for this.

Axonrus says:

I currently use tomtom 6 software on my at&t tilt. It works great. I switch off using the bluetooth gps module and the internal gps on the tilt. The iphone definately has many features that I would be interested in if I can foot the extra cost of the internet connection costs. If I could get tomtom and voice command on the iphone, I think it would be hard for me to resist the iphone. However, until all the legal battles subside, I must continue with my WM device instead. I certainly hope the war ends soon. My wallet is burning a hole in my pocket, and I would love to give Steve Jobs some more of my money. Maybe he doesn't want my money...

Cindy says:

I've been using Telenav for over a year now for voice navigation on my Blackjack 2. It works great and I gladly pay AT&T the $9.95 per month on my regular bill for unlimited use. The app is much more pleasing to the eye than the Tom Tom demo I just saw. Why isn't Telenav doing an app for the iPhone, does Tom Tom have an exclusive? And why won't Tom Tom reveal the pricing?

Davidmoreen says:

We know it is coming now, and I can't wait for the Tomtom iPhone app!