TomTom said Thursday that it will provide a live traffic map of its HD Traffic service via the Web, allowing drivers to get a sense for the roads before they start on their journey.
Meanwhile, RIM also updated its own traffic app, placing version 2.0 on its beta site.
Unfortunately, the new TomTom map
only provides real-time data for Europe and South Africa for now, but it seems likely that TomTom will migrate the map to North America once it gets enough data.
TomTom's HD Traffic service not only uses accident reports, cameras, and other means of generating traffic data, but also live traffic information provided by the TomTom GPS devices themselves. The traffic data is passed back and forth every few minutes, providing much more up-to-date and reliable information than U.S. services, which update just a few times per hour.
"You won't find a more accurate or reliable source of live traffic information anywhere," Ralf-Peter Schäfer, traffic director for TomTom, said in a statement. "The live traffic map is the perfect starting point for anyone planning a journey or who needs the most up-to-date view of the traffic on the road. By giving more drivers access to TomTom HD Traffic, we hope that we can start to make better use of the road network and start to reduce traffic congestion for everyone."
Clusters of traffic incidents are represented by a single icon, so users can see at a glance the number and severity of problems in a particular area, TomTom said. A detailed incident report list shows the length, delay, and cause of a jam, so they can decide whether to plan an alternative route.
The problem is that the connected GPS devices are much more prevalent in Europe than in the United States, where TomTom has launched the GO 2505 M LIVE
, which is scheduled to go on sale in the United States in mid-year. The 2505 M LIVE is, so far, the only connected GPS that TomTom has launched that includes the HD Traffic service.
Meanwhile, smartphones such as Google's Android-based platform and its Google Maps have only recently begun factoring in traffic data when calculating the fastest route to a destination. Google recently said
that it would begin using its real-time traffic data to calculate routes, which it anonymously collects from smartphone users.
On Thursday, Research in Motion also made available a beta version of its own Traffic app for the BlackBerry platform, adding an improved interface and a future traffic view, where users can plan the best time to begin their journey based on the historical traffic patterns for a given route. The app, available on the BlackBerry Beta site
, also provides a second, alternative route with every route it plots.