MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2010 (#44)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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58 MacDirectory REVIEW TOMTOM APP AND CAR KIT FIND A HOME Like a lot of people, when I first heard that the iPhone 3GS would add a compass, I had one thought: GPS for my car. Though it wasn't the first navigation system to make it to the App Store, TomTom's was still the most promising thanks to the news that it could be paired with a hardware Car Kit that would substantially improve its functionality as both a GPS and a hands- free calling device. This came with the sobering revelation that the combination would carry a price tag similar to a standalone auto GPS (or just under two years of service from the AT&T Navigator ). Based on price alone, the TomTom entry is no bargain (though the same can be said of the iPhone itself). So I set out to see if it was a comparably good value. Though my timeframe was somewhat compressed, I had the same initial experience as the early adopters of the application. I installed the TomTom app when it was still in its first release. This had many of the features of the well-designed TomTom standalone devices, like the ability to pre-plan and pre-map routes before you leave, a good database that included a few dozen point-of- interest categories the gamut from airports, to filling stations to zoos). And it looked like a dedicated TomTom GPS: you can select either a 3D point-of-view map or follow your route via a fixed-reference 2D display (north always at the top). Another nice touch is for that night driving; you can switch the colors to a darker, muted scheme that's still clear and easy to follow. If you miss a turn or take an intentional detour, the program will intelligently and tenaciously put you back on course. A pre-planning option lets you set up a preferred route, giving you the ability to create a mid-trip waypoint from a map selection or en route point of interest. It's also a great trick to avoid a stretch of road that you know will be a rush-hour parking lot. (You still need to search out your real-time traffic info from Google Maps but that's okay. The TomTom app remembers where it's going if you switch to other programs or use the phone.) It's Still an iPhone In other words, it has just about everything you'd expect from a top-brand GPS with a mature product line. It also plays very nicely with the iPhone itself. This goes way beyond the ability to simply make calls while the TomTom is active. You can select destinations from anything stored in your Contacts app, you have the ability to make a phone call to a point-of- interest with a couple of taps, and you get all the advantages that the multi-touch interface provides. Unfortunately, manually entering an address still uses the traditional GPS paradigm: select a city and state, then the street name and, as the last step, enter the address number or intersection. It would have been wonderful if the application were smart enough to decipher an address pasted in from another source, particularly the Google Mobile App (already capable of performing a voice- activated search). It didn't take WORDS BY RIC GETTER

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