Tomtom vs Google Maps: Which Navigation App Is Better?

We’re going to look at the two giants of the navigation industry, or maybe a better comparison would be 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. Now, Google Maps has 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 while driving.

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. So we were wondering, which is better?

Tomtom vs Google Maps

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 and all that good stuff to make your journey as easy as possible and have the perfect route. You might be asking, doesn’t Tomtom do the same? Well, no… Tomtom actually downloads the entire map to your phone and after having a connection once it knows where you are, and 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.

Besides the obvious then, what else do these apps provide?

Features

Features is a pretty easy one as far as comparing the two apps. Google has an abundance of features, from multiple destination programming to info about your destination and other 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 through and through, 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, in fact if you prefer 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 which isn’t so much a feature in of itself but it 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 to emulate.

It should be noted though that this will take up more storage space on your phone compared to normal apps. I personally don’t have an issue with storage so it’s no problem for me but 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.

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.

Next, we’ll look at Google Maps. Hard to imagine it will be a huge amount different, but we’ll go through it anyway so we’re all clear on any differences. So, same as with Waze you’ll have your usual phone pop up asking if the app can use your location and then you’re onto the home screen. Again, very similar, you have your own location and a search bar. Here’s the differences though, while not necessarily distracting there is a lot more visual noise on Google Apps. They have a swipe up on the bottom that you can see the top of which has a list of interesting places in the area and commonly searched terms such as pubs or recreation centres. The search itself is what you’d expect from any search with recent searches and an auto fill when the app thinks it knows where you want to go.

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 but I do lean slightly towards Tomtom myself.

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.

To properly conclude I would choose Tomtom if your only goal is driving navigation, but I would choose Google Maps if you want to use any of those extra features.

We hope this article has helped with your decision on which navigation app to choose and you’re safely on your way to your next destination on the fastest route possible!

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