Dec 11, 2012
Frankly, navigation applications are not entirely scarce on Android, as there are quite a lot of options for people interested in convergence. What is a little less common, and invariably much coveted are offline solutions.
This is where industry heavyweight TomTom looks to fill in the blanks. TomTom USA for Android is a solution that works online as well as offline with downloadable maps. Thus, the user is not held to ransom by finicky data connections.
As expected, the download was fairly large, and the app warned me of such.
TomTom comes with a packed feature set. Aside from the expected voice directions, it also had multi-point travel functionality, and the ability to work when my device was in portrait or landscape. For basic navigation, I was presented with a few travel options: I could choose a bike option, walking, an “eco” route (one that cut down on stop and go), or I could choose to drive with the shortest or quickest route.
There were several other customization options as well; I found plenty of built-in themes for both daytime and nighttime navigation. I could also change the type of voice. A lot of care seemed to be ascribed to making the user experience as nice as possible. For every generated route, I was able to look at the map and written directions, as well as a demo of the route. I could also get an alternate route, avoid portions of the upcoming route and even create an off-route waypoint. This waypoint could be an address, a recent destination or a point of interest. I also was a fan of the lane guidance and the way the app automatically re-routed me when it determined I went off grid. It worked quite well without signal.
One important piece for me was the fact that TomTom worked well in the background, even with music playing. It worked with my contacts, and the app also offered free lifetime updates, which is a biggie. Updated traffic was an extra in-app purchase. Now, considering the cost of the app, some folks may balk at the extra cost associated with getting traffic warnings. I was not able to to get TomTom to pop up as an option when invoking navigation from a Google search, and I was not able to figure out how to use or generate coordinates, which is something that I actually use often. This is something that is good to have in a pinch, and I would have expected this in this app.
Still, for folks looking for an offline option that is backed by good reputation, TomTom might fill the void.