Sunday, March 18, 2012

TomTom Crowdsources Map Changes


As far as navigation goes, the only thing that smartphones do better than more traditional GPS units is mapping. Which, of course, is actually pretty important. Most cell phone mapping programs update twice as frequently as dedicated units do and since navigation is really only as good as the map its based on, it was something of a boon to smartphone app makers. Note the past tense

TomTom, one of the three biggest mapping and navigation juggernauts in the world, announced yesterday that they, too, are going to have maps that update faster and flag changing conditions. And, just like a lot of smartphone app developers, they’re going to do it via crowdsourcing.  In a press release, TomTom introduced their new Map Input Tracker API. This feedback tool can be integrated into existing product lines and will allow customers to share map feedback via their smartphone, tablet, laptop or even in-dash navigation.

With this invention you can report map errors to TomTom, as soon as your GPS tells you to turn where you can’t or reports you’ve reached your destination when you clearly haven’t. I haven’t seen it in action (obviously) but if you’ve ever argued with your GPS over directions, then you’ll agree the possibilities are pretty exciting.

“With the launch of our new Map Input Tracker API, we give people the chance to share map feedback, through any connected device, wherever they are,” Charles Cautley, Managing Director of TomTom Maps said in a press release. “This API enables TomTom to shorten the time between detecting changes in the real world and updating a customer’s map.”

Of course, it’s really only going to be useful if TomTom manages to update their maps in a timely manner. And I doubt that it will be as fast as a smartphone, but I’d sacrifice a bit of time to get the clearly superior GPS capabilities in a dedicated unit. How about you?


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