TomTom talks iPhone, iOS 4 multitasking - TiPb at WWDC 2010

TomTom for iPhone

Tom Murray, SVP of Marketing, TomTom sat down with me to discuss their turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone. Announced at WWDC 2009, over the last year TomTom has managed to get the app to where all its core functionality is in place and they can give iPhone users a really first-class tool to get them from point A to point B. Now, with iOS 4 and its multitasking API for location, they can start getting them in style.

Since TomTom does everything from owning their own maps to selling their own devices, they're uniquely positioned do things like crowd-source changes in roads or analyze patterns in routes and get that fed back into their system so their 40 million users can share local wisdom whether they're improving their daily commute or driving in a new city for the first time.

With the iPhone, Apple is providing the device (and the GPS) but TomTom still offers a car kit to supplement and extend the built-in hardware. (I asked if the existing car kit would be compatible with the just-introduced iPhone 4, but they hadn't had a chance to get their hands on it yet so they're waiting to whether it fits, whether it requires an adapter, or whether some reengineering will be in order).

No word on an iPad version yet, unfortunately, but turn-by-turn navigation on smartphones is still growing. With free-as-in-Google and open source map apps now on the scene, TomTom is investing in the quality of their service and the trust in their data.

Check out our video interview, after the break!

[TomTom on iTunes]

YouTube link

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

TomTom talks iPhone, iOS 4 multitasking - TiPb at WWDC 2010


I want free Google turn by turn on the iPhone, please. Interestingly, here in Georgia a law has just been passed that will soon make it illegal to text while driving, but use of navigation systems is allowed. For those in states or countries that already ban texting while driving, how is use of nav software on smartphones addressed?

I love motionx gps drive, it's 3 bucks a month and I only renew it when I actually need it so I'm not paying alot of money for something I don't use most of the time.

Has google said that it'll make the turn by turn navigation available for the maps app on the iPhone?

@ Carolinamic -
Why would they? It'd be one less thin android would have over iPhone. Google has no incetive to off turn-by-turn for iPhone, or any other device for that matter.

i love tom. i get lost when it not on phone. i turn on wrong road and mean man come to car and tell me to get out. i ask for help and he say words i do not no. i took my car to where i go but forgot to take me. i see him no more. i use google to take me to station and i get help and show phone. all like my phone. they touch it and open apps. i tell them to help then i show phone. they say ok.

I just purchased the TomTom app last week. Whenever I'm in an area with no 3G (just EDGE), it displays a weak signal warning and stops directing me. In my area this is rare, but I could see this being a huge issue on long trips or people who live in spotty cities. Just a little heads up to anyone considering getting the app. Wait until they have the kinks worked out. Also, I have the MotionX GPS Drive app and it works great.

I'm not convinced. Here in NZ we're still waiting for a NZ Tomtom map for the iPhone that's even vaguely up to date. Despite this issue being regularly addressed with Tomtom, It seems that they just don't care.

@ Ryan - in the short term your right, but long term I'm not so sure. If they charge a low monthly fee I think that it could be profitable for them. Even if the only get half the iPhone market to buy into it. To me its like iTunes on the palm pre. Yeah apple would make more money if they bought an apple device, and maybe they have an iPod but they don't like the iPhone. So corner the online music market even more by letting them download some songs are movies to there phone. Just my two cents

why didn't you ask him when we can expect to have custom voices on the iphone tomtom product? we don't get to enjoy all the celebrity and other voice options that dedicated units have.

Oh My! I really really hope that the new phone fits in The tomtom carkit!!!!! CaN't live without the car kit. The tomtom app is just not that convemient without it!

I've had TomTom for while a now but used it for the first time yesterday. It's cool so far but (@Roulette) I thought the maps were stored locally so you didn't need a cellular signal. With iOS 4 will you be able to get voice navigation in the background?

These devices need to have real gps solutions in them that do not require a mobile data signal. I took a wrong turn, recently, and between two Palm Pre's and an iPad, we had no maps to tell us where we were.
I whipped out my old Treo 755p and an external Bluetooth gps receiver, connected them, and used my old Delorme Earthmate Street Atlas software to show me where the hell we were and where we need to go.
The time most of these devices fail us are when we are in the middle of nowhere - precisely the time and place that we need them most.

TomTom on the iPhone is dire unusable rubbish. OK, the app is good, the traffic is super, but the iPhone's GPS is incompetent to the point of me having a decent signal only 20% of the time. I just switch it off. Yes I've tried the tricks like switching off 3G, but it's still dire. I am also sure TT has tweaked the software to make it bad just to force you to buy their car kit.

Calculus II: yes all the maps are stored in the background. I have no idea why the lack of 3G affects the signal. And it's not a hardware issue because in the same area, Google Maps location feature works just fine.

Being civill as required by this site is really difficult with respect to the TomTom app. I spent three days, part of which was dialoguing with iPhone/iStore support, trying to get all 1.35GB of the thing downloaded into my 3GS. Never got past 20%. At one point, iTunes told me I would need 400 more hours to complete the download. I am not sure where the bottleneck is, but I have a cable modem that downloads most things quite quickly. I finally gave up and decided that someone (else) is not ready for prime time.