I’ve been using the TomTom U.S.A. turn-by-turn GPS iPhone application for over two years and I love it! I can’t count the number of times it has shown me a faster way to my destination, helped me find my way when I was in an unknown area or routed me around traffic jams.
A number of friends told me they don’t see the need for an app like this because they rarely take long trips or go places they aren’t familiar with. I’d like to share my top 3 reasons for using TomTom U.S.A on my iPhone on a daily basis while driving to places in which I’m very familiar.
•Real-Time Traffic updates As of version 1.3, TomTom U.S.A. for the iPhone supports real-time traffic updates. For an annual fee of $20, TomTom connects to the computer system which monitors the traffic sensors embedded in the roadways. With this information, TomTom will let me know about any traffic delays.
I live equidistant between the 101 and 280 freeways. In most cases, either one will take me to my destination just as quickly. Depending on the time of day, one freeway may take longer than the other. The live traffic option checks the real-time traffic conditions when plotting my route.
With the live traffic update, I know in advance if there are any delays, where they are and the duration of each delay. If they’re severe enough, TomTom will search for an alternate route. TomTom checks the traffic situation every 3 minutes. While en route, it will suggest an alternate route if the delay gets bad enough or let me know that despite the current delay, I’m still on the quickest route. On one occasion while driving the two miles to highway 101 from home, the traffic situation changed substantially enough that I was rerouted to my destination via surface streets, keeping me off 101 entirely.
•TomTom helps me save gas and relax It can be easy to get caught up in the frenzy of other drivers, especially on freeways, as they dart in an out of lanes in an attempt to get to their destination a few nano seconds sooner. Or, because I’m so excited about getting to the ski resort or Yosemite, I’m tempted to put the pedal to the medal.
Because TomTom provides the time of arrival to my destination, it’s easy to see how increasing or decreasing my speed (or maintaining it) effects my arrival time. In most instances, trying to keep up with the Joneses on the freeway has little to no impact on my arrival time. This encourages me to drive at a steady speed which means I’ll get better gas mileage.
And while knowing my arrival time may seem like an insignificant feature, I’ve found it helps me be a calmer driver. I often wait till the last minute to get out the door. TomTom is diligently sitting on my dashboard reminding me to relax, that I’ll be on time.
•IQ Routes If you don’t want to pop for the live traffic feature, or if your destination is over roads that don’t have traffic monitoring, TomTom has a cool feature called IQ Routes.
While driving, dedicated TomTom GPS devices record your actual speeds for each road you take and notes the time of day. It sends this data back to their big servers in the sky and shares it with other TomTom users. With the collective information from thousands of drivers, it will know that the time it takes to get from point A to point B may take longer depending on the time of day. (Other products simply compute the arrival time based on the posted speed limits.) It may even suggest an alternate route because of the time of day. In the case of a trip I take on regular basis, TomTom will suggest a different route if my departure time is after 9 p.m, noting that taking El Camino to 85 to 280 is now faster than taking San Antonio to Foothill to the same point on 280.
•Bonus Reason – It fulfills my need to be Geek I admit it. Color me a geek when it comes to gadgets like this. And I glow even more when the gadget is downright useful! This is one gift I bought myself that I’ve been very happy with! If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend checking out the TomTom U.S.A. application for iPhone.
TomTom U.S.A is available from the iPhone App Store for $49.99. So far, it has included regular free map updates. It’s also available for other parts of the world. I also use their car mount kit ($99.99) which includes an additional GPS chip for enhanced reception plus it offers hands-free calling.
Also, TomTom U.S.A works on an iPod touch and an iPad. If your iPad includes 3G support, you can use the traffic update service.