Tomtom vs Google Maps: Which Navigation App Is Better?

Both Google Maps and TomTom are considered to be two of the best options if you’re looking for navigational help while driving. They’ve produced mobile apps that work almost seamlessly with both Android and iOS devices (they also both integrate with Apple CarPlay support too).

However, which of the two should you opt for? We’re going to run through some of the benefits of both apps.

Tomtom vs Google Maps

If you’re trying to decide between the two, think of it like this – TomTom is the better option for navigation and use if you’re frequently on the road, as it has access to real time data. Google Maps has more features and is overall a more comprehensive option nowadays, though.

If we’re looking at the exact uses of the apps they are in fact very similar. But the thing is that they get their results very differently.

Google maps streams data to your phone letting you know exactly where you are, what’s around you, where the traffic is to make your journey as easy as possible. Getting the perfect route is the most important thing.

As opposed to this, Tomtom actually downloads the entire map to your phone and after having a connection once it knows where you are, the phone does the rest.

The benefit of this is that you don’t need an internet signal to use it. This can be incredibly helpful if you’re in areas that may struggle with signal or even if would just like to save the battery life on your phone.

Google Maps is similar to Apple Maps in the sense that it relies on map updates to work well. But this is just a brief breakdown – let’s look at both apps in a little more detail.

Quick Background

We’re going to look at the two giants of the navigation industry, or maybe a better comparison would be between the old and the new.

First, we have Tomtom – a pioneer when it comes to navigation, it was certainly one of the first to bring out a device which drivers can use to find routes for their journeys.

The second, Google Maps. It’s been around for a long time – even longer than Tomtom in fact – but it’s only relatively recently that people have been able to use it as a means to navigate whilst driving (though many still think Waze is better than Google Maps).

Granted, this was a limitation of phone apps. But even back in the day, you’d search a rough route on google then get in your car and use your notes to find the way.

Then devices like Tomtom came in which removed the need for the map and the planned out route.

And finally, we’ve reached the point in time that is the present, where your average user is using apps on their phones to find routes and then the app itself will show them and tell them exactly where to go.

This brings us full circle with regards to Tomtom and Google Maps as now both have an app for doing just that.

Features

Features is a pretty easy one as far as comparing the two apps. Google has an abundance of features. From the ability to add multiple destinations in Google Maps ,to info about your destination and others like it on the map.

You can check opening times, restaurants in your area and even check their menu while you’re at it. Tomtom however is very much a driving app – it’s there to get you to your destination and that’s the extent of it.

With this being the case, there is a solid argument to have both. You can utilise the driving navigation of Tomtom with the ability to work without a connection and battery saving possibilities, but still use Google Maps if you happen to be looking for a local restaurant or need directions by bike.

In this case pretty much the entire feature list of Tomtom is its ability to help you navigate by car. There’s also the fact that is doesn’t need an internet connection, which isn’t so much a feature in of itself but is a nice benefit to the app which may sway your decision.

Essentially the app downloads traffic data so that if you ever lose connection, rather than buffering it just shows the data from the last time it was connected. It’s a nice feature that I think a lot of other apps should try and emulate.

It should be noted though that this will take up more storage space on your phone compared to normal apps. If this is something that does concern you then just make sure you’re aware before downloading everything.

That being said, it’s not an enormous amount of data, just more than others. But the data that these apps use when running map updates is often important if you only have a limited amount to use each month.

Data

This is the big difference between the apps and will sway you one way or the other and that is how they not only get their data but how they use their data. Let me explain.

Google Maps has a server which it constantly receives data from, once a traffic incident occurs or any form of delay occurs it needs to be registered to the server and then passed onto your device.

This isn’t a particularly complicated process but there can be small delays between when an incident occurs and when it updates the app. This is usually very minor, so unless you’re there within a minute the app should be able to warn you ahead of time.

The process of downloading this data for Google Maps is pretty quick all things considered for a traffic update. So, how does Tomtom work differently?

Well, Tomtom has the same thing but on a smaller scale. There are traffic updates, but they occur less often and they are downloaded to the phone rather than streamed.

This means that running the app is less battery consuming and the app then has the ability to run without an internet connection as it already has the data on it rather than needing to connect to a server.

If you have a constant internet connection and have no battery concerns then this is probably a win for Google Maps as it will generally have more up to date information than Tomtom, but if either of these points do concern you then Tomtom is the way to go.

User interface and usability

I wanted to have a section here about the general use of the app and show how easy the app is to use and also how clear the apps interface is. No use having all this information if the user can’t recognise what’s going on after all.

We’ll have a look at Tomtom first. As far as the initial look of the app once you open it, it is very clean. There isn’t a lot of visual noise and it’s very obvious what to do next and how the app works.

A simple map with your current location and a search bar at the top. If you select this search bar you can of course search for any location and how to get there but also use it to quickly select pre-defined destinations such as a home destination.

This is going to be simpler than Google Maps as it is due to it having less features and is much more one dimensional as far as only doing driving navigation. No complaints here, it does what it’s supposed to and does it well.

As far as which is better, if you are looking specifically for a driving navigation app then Tomtom has it better. The simple fact that there’s less clutter on the screen and its incredibly simplistic design wins it for me.

This being said, Google Maps isn’t exactly complicated, it only has a few extra bits and those are additional features so it may be better for some. In the end it’s going to be personal preference here.

Conclusion

In conclusion the apps are actually very similar as far as driving navigation, the differences really show with the additional features that Google Maps has to offer with the ability to navigate on foot and bike as well.

This is going to be different for everyone, if you only use the app for driving navigation then all these extra features aren’t doing anything and are just visual noise that you’ll be ignoring.

For the driving navigation itself, the choice is essentially between Google Maps being more up to date and potentially having more relevant traffic information or Tomtom which has the ability to work without an internet signal and potentially saves you some battery life as it isn’t continuously syncing with a server.

It’s also worth noting that as Tomtom downloads the maps prior to being used you do need to first let it download the app when you first install but it will also therefore take up more storage space on your phone. If that is a concern of yours then best to take that into account when choosing which you would rather use.

In conclusion, if your only goal is driving navigation and learning about road closures or hazards, then TomTom is the better choice. However, if you want the most accurate data worldwide, a street view and a few extra new features, then you can stick to using Google Maps instead.

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Alex

By day he's an engineer and by night (well, evening or very early morning but night sounds way cooler) Alex runs the Apps UK ship. He has a keen interest in language, fitness & especially social media - he is always on the lookout for the next hot platform.

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