When I watched the below videos about a new Android App called Route 66, I immediately wondered what mapping software was used to create them. The second video looks almost identical to the new version of Google Maps and I figured it simply leveraged the Maps API, but as it turns out they’re powered by TomTom. Have a look:
I suppose it’s possible the first video featuring the navigation shows TomTom powered maps while the simpler location maps are Google Maps based – we’ll have to get clarification on that. But let’s talk a little bit about the software in general.
TomTom has a pretty loyal following and this partnership between Route 66 and TomTom should make a lot of TomTom lovers happy. The app looks incredibly polished overall, and along with Mapquest should instantly become a pretty solid Google Maps & Nav competitor. They’ve both got an uphill battle with Google, but this looks like a valiant effort.
I’m not too excited about this “Follow Me” feature though, which I thought was a good idea but is in reality almost pointless. What was the missing link?
I thought that “Follow Me” meant you would “share” live location data between the two phones so that while navigating to your address you could track where the other person is, or even get constantly updated navigation directions to the other person’s current whereabouts, essentially allowing you to follow them even if you can’t see them. That’s not what it is at all.
“Follow Me” just puts a fake animation of a car on the screen in navigate mode so it gives you the impression you’re following another car instead of looking at an open road. It also uses your phone’s camera to show a live view of the street instead of a fake map view. To me this falls flat for two main reasons:
- I don’t want to see the “real” street, I want a graphical version of the street that is more clear and defined and not dependent on elements like outdoor lighting and weather.
- Get the car out of my way! It’s a waste of space and kind of annoying… rather than giving the feeling of following someone it makes me feel like I’m stuck in traffic.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t see myself switching from Google Maps/Nav but Route 66 and Mapquest have some intriguing options that are making me think I’d at least like to test them out. I’m pulling for a Google Maps competitor to gain popularity because, as I always argue, competition is good for business and consumers alike.