TomTom updates iPhone GPS app, but traffic still a no-go

TomTom has updated its iPhone GPS app, but hasn't included traffic information or new maps for Australian users

The TomTom Australia iPhone app update 1.3 allows users to search for POIs using Google Local Search.

The TomTom Australia iPhone app update 1.3 allows users to search for POIs using Google Local Search.

Australian iPhone users miss out on real-time traffic information and updated maps in TomTom's latest iPhone app update, TomTom Australia 1.3. The update was released on Saturday, four months after the company last updated the app.

Version 1.3 brings several new features to the Australian iPhone app, including improved iPod music playback control, an automatic day/night mode, and the ability to add points of interest (POI) through Google Local Search or by copying and pasting from a Web site.

However, the app retains the same map version as the last app update — v835.2419 — and lacks real-time traffic information, which was included in similar upgrades to the Western Europe and North American iPhone apps. Updated maps were also provided for other localised applications, including the US, Western and Eastern Europe, Malaysia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Thailand, Greece, Brazil and Mexico.

Nick Saisanas, TomTom Australia Marketing Communications Manager, told Good Gear Guide that the company had not yet implemented its HD Traffic system in Australia.

"We work with telcos to provide high-level traffic information from mobile phones," Saisanas said. "This is something we haven't brought out in Australia, but we're definitely considering it."

Saisanas said the technology was available but could not commit to a timeline for a local release.

A similar system is currently available through the included Maps application on the iPhone, which combines information from the SUNA Traffic Channel and information crowd-sourced from compatible mobile phones by Google.

Purchasers of the TomTom GPS app have also complained about the map, which is relatively old and inaccurate in some areas. One user, ScottL8, said in an iTunes app review that the old map version meant "my route to work (for example) sends me to an off ramp on the M1 that has not existed since August 2009, and then manually selecting the alternative route sends to me to a right turn that is no longer allowed."

Saisanas told GoodGearGuide that maps for the TomTom Australia iPhone app had not yet been updated as the company does not own the local map provider.

The company employs maps from Telstra-owned Sensis in Australia in both the iPhone app and dedicated GPS devices. TomTom owns TeleAtlas, which provides detailed mapping and navigation data for the US, Europe, Asia and portions of South America.

"We're basically still trying to work with Apple on how to provide maps on an ongoing basis to customers," Saisanas said. "Because we have to work with the map supplier here, it's a little more complex [than overseas]."

"It would be unfair to owners of dedicated GPS devices, who are purchasing map updates, to provide it for free [to iPhone owners]," Saisanas said. "There are no promises, but we're definitely going to work out the structure of how we'd do this for the next release."

Saisanas said that TomTom was looking to implement an in-app purchase system, which allows developers to charge for updates and subscriptions without forcing a customer to repurchase the original app.

The TomTom Australia iPhone app is available from the App Store for $99.99.

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James Hutchinson

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