More Details on TomTom for iPhone: Mount Has its Own GPS Chip
Wednesday June 10, 2009
Update: TomTom for iPhone is now available in the App Store, in four versions including U.S. & Canada ($99.99); Western Europe ($139.99); Australia ($79.99) and New Zealand ($94.99). No word yet on availability date or price of the windshield mount, which is an important part of the package (details below). Two features of interest: "Tap and go" lets you zoom in or out on a map and use the iPhone's touch screen to select route start and end points. TomTom for iPhone also lets you navigate from entries in your contacts list. Watch for additional information and a full review here.
After TomTom's announcement of TomTom for iPhone at the Apple's developer's conference, I had quite a few questions that weren't answered in the demo. Fortunately, I was able to catch up with Tom Murray, TomTom's vice president for market development, to see what I could pry loose. Everyone has assumed that a company like TomTom or Garmin could create a terrific app for the iPhone, but TomTom's multi-featured, docking windshield mount took everyone by surprise. For example, in the demo, TomTom stated that the mount "enhances" the iPhone's GPS. Really? How so? Turns out, the windshield mount actually has its own GPS chip and antenna inside, and when the iPhone is docked to the mount, it relies on the mount's GPS, says Murray. Wow. So much for depending on the iPhone's anemic GPS. The mount will "enhance reception in challenging areas, such as among tall buildings," says Murray. I was also curious about how maps for TomTom for iPhone will be sold. Mapsets will be bundled with the app software, says Murray. For example, if you want North America, you will purchase the app version that includes the North America mapset. They will be downloaded and installed together on purchase. If you want a mapset for Europe, you will need to purchase the European version of the app separately, and you will have separate apps on your phone for each region. Here are some more details on the TomTom for iPhone windshield mount/dock:
The windshield mount/dock is optional. TomTom for iPhone app will run without it.
Mount has a built-in, standard one-eighth inch audio-out jack. Can run a cable to car aux audio.
It includes a microphone and speaker.
It enables hands-free calling via its mic and speaker.
It charges the iPhone.
Murray would not announce a release date (still officially "later this summer") for TomTom for iPhone, or provide pricing for the apps/mapsets, or windshield mount. Also, he could not comment on whether there would be a monthly fee associated with using the app (this seems unlikely, since Apple's App Store isn't set up for monthly-fee type billing).