Wednesday 17 January 2018

Digital Life: This app has real driving ambition

Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Satnav is dead -- or on the endangered list at least. Much like MP3 players, cameras and personal organisers, the mighty mobile phone is slowly eating the standalone satnav's lunch.

GPS giant TomTom knows maps on mobile will win out and has shrewdly concluded that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. While TomTom started selling an iPhone version several months ago, it's only in the last few weeks since the latest update that it's become truly useful.

Now navigation can continue in the background while, for instance, you make a call or check your email. The app works exactly like any standalone TomTom, mixing accurate maps with intelligent routing options to minimise journey time.

But here's the dilemma. TomTom for iPhone comes in two parts: the €70 app (Western Europe edition), and the €100 car kit, which includes a windscreen mount, separate GPS chip (for better reception) and battery charger.

In total, though, this adds up to more than you'd pay online for a standalone satnav itself, including ones from TomTom.

You don't need to buy the car kit, of course - and this doesn't work with iPhone 4, note. But for 3GS owners, it does provide a noticeably better experience because you definitely require some sort of dashboard mount and iPhone charger (navigation races through the battery).

Other satnav apps for iPhone cost a little less but lack the range of features and polish of the TomTom. Don't forget the free Google Maps will also get you to your destination -- but without the voice instructions and needing a constant internet connection.

LG is probably better known for fridges and TVs in this country but it's actually the world's third-biggest mobile maker and quietly sells a range of handsets here.

Last month, however, it reported a record loss in its mobile division after failing to keep up with the likes of Samsung and Apple. After a few days with its new phone, the LG Optimus GT540, it's not hard to see why.

Based on Google's wildly popular Android software (albeit an outdated version), the Optimus has the right DNA and even its brushed-metal appearance makes a good impression.

But someone in LG should be throttled over the decision to use a cheapo resistive screen rather than the capacitive type used in the iPhone.

The experience is near-fatal, lacking the precise sensitivity required for a touchscreen system such as Android.

The Optimus GT540 is available on contract from O2 and Meteor.

Irish Independent

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