TomTom revamps portable navigation units with "map centric" interface

TomTom has introduced a completely revamped user interface to its top of the range portable GPS units

TomTom has introduced a completely revamped user interface to its top of the range portable GPS units in Australia, claiming the software is significantly easier to use than any device currently on the market.

The new TomTom GO 500 and GO 600 GPS units include pinch to zoom functionality.
The new TomTom GO 500 and GO 600 GPS units include pinch to zoom functionality.

The company today announced the Australian launch of the GO 500 and GO 600 portable navigation units. Both are the first GPS devices to feature a completely new user interface and an interactive map that users can pinch to zoom.

TomTom Asia Pacific's vice president and managing director, Chris Kearney, said the user interface changes bring the new GO units into line with the latest smartphones and tablet devices.

"People are used to interacting with maps and having a map do something when they touch it, so we have put the map at the heart of the user experience."

"To us the map is key to the device, and what we've done is really make it interactive. I can touch and point on the map and do something straight away. It's what people expect from a digital device now."

TomTom has stripped away the traditional address entry search on the software by introducing a quick search function. The capacitive touch screen on the GO 500 and GO 600 also offers pinch to zoom functionality typically seen on smartphones and tablets.

"We've really shortcutted the whole touch, get menu, navigate to, give me a suburb, give me an address, give me a number, we've thrown all those steps away. It's just touch and drive, so this is a really key change."

"It's all map centric, we're working to the way people use digital maps now.

In addition to the new user interface, both the GO 500 and the GO 600 include quarterly lifetime free map updates, lifetime traffic updates, and 3D city maps.

The traffic updates are enabled by tethering the GPS to a data-connected smartphone via Bluetooth. TomTom says the service will use around 5MB of data per month based on around an hour of use per day.

TomTom Asia Pacific's vice president and managing director, Chris Kearney.
TomTom Asia Pacific's vice president and managing director, Chris Kearney.

The company also confirmed that the pre-existing ability to correct maps, called Map Share, is "coming soon" to the new models, but the feature won't be available out of the box.

The new units are identical aside from screen size. The GO 500 has a 5in capacitive touch screen while the GO 600 has a larger 6in display.

TomTom hopes the new GO devices will reverse a decline in the portable navigation market, though the company expects around 700,000 navigation units across all brands to be sold in Australia this year.

"We've seen a decline in the market this calendar year, but it's actually less than what we predicted. We're seeing single digit decline in our units, the value to the customer is far better so our value decline is slightly greater."

"The second and third time buyers are coming back to the market, and what we are ensuring for this launch is making sure there is a reason to come back. We'll see close to 700,000 GPS units sold in Australia this year."

The TomTom GO 500 ($249) and the TomTom GO 600 ($299) are available now through "leading retailers" across Australia.

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Ross Catanzariti

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