With over 65,000 applications in the Apple App Store, there’s a tremendous amount of overlap. There aren’t many apps available that are unique anymore. In some ways, this is good. There are lite versions of paid apps that do basically the same things, but for free. And competition in an open market is a good thing because it promotes innovation and improvement. (Ahem, Google Voice, anyone?) But there may come a point where you ask, is yet another app for this really necessary? Especially when that new app costs $99.99 the way TomTom for the iPhone does. TomTom for the iPhone is not the first GPS navigation app, just the latest. The company announced its impending arrival at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June. At the time, it was exciting news because there weren’t many apps like it available yet. A lot can happen in just a couple of months. Since TomTom’s June announcment, three other formidable competitor apps have emerged for the iPhone. First, it was Gokivo from Networks in Motion in late June. The app costs $.99 to download, and then users are charged a monthly fee of $9.99 to use it. Just a few days after that, AT&T released Navigator, which is free to download, but also comes with a $9.99 per month price tag. Finally, Mobile Navigator from Navigon was released in July. It doesn’t charge a monthly fee, but the app costs $69.99, and only until August 31, when the price will jump to $99.99. At the time, I speculated that when TomTom was released, it would be better and less expensive than AT&T Navigator. Well, I was right—sort of. If you plan on keeping navigation software for a year or more, then the one-time cost of $99.99 for TomTom for the iPhone will be more cost effective than the $9.99 per month for Navigator. There are a couple of issues with this, though. First, unless you travel extensively in your car, do you really need GPS navigation to get around your own city? If you’ve lived there for any substantial amount of time, shouldn’t you already know your way around by now? And if you planned to take a road trip, couldn’t you just sign up for Navigator, use it for your trip, pay that $9.99 once, and then cancel it until the next trip? If you go with TomTom, you’re out 100 bucks right off the bat. And here’s the other thing. The iPhone comes preloaded with Google maps, which is GPS-enabled, and which provides turn-by-turn text directions along with a highlighted route map. Ok, so it’s not spoken navigation like TomTom, and it doesn’t come with the handy dandy car kit to be attached to the dash or windshield. But did I mention it came preloaded on the phone? If you have an iPhone, you already have navigation software installed, and you don’t need to shell out another $100, or an extra monthly fee in addition to the high price you’re already paying for service. I’d think long and hard before buying any navigation app for the iPhone. Unless Apple decides to send Google maps down the same chute as Google Voice.
Lost? There’s yet another app for that.
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