TomTom unveils APIs as Google 'tests' iOS Maps app

Echoing Nokia's move a couple of days previously, TomTom has invited developers of Android apps to plug into its mapping and navigation data. Meanwhile, Google is reportedly polishing up its new iOS Maps app.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

TomTom, the Dutch navigation firm that powers most iOS 6 Maps, is to make it easier for other developers of enterprise and consumer apps to base their services on TomTom data.

The company revealed its Location Based Services (LBS) platform and developer portal on Thursday, inviting other iOS, Android and Java developers to tap into its map tile, traffic, routing and geocoding information. TomTom already provides its own Navigator apps for both iOS and Android.

Meanwhile, also on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Google was testing a new mapping app for iOS devices. Apple axed Google Maps as the basis for its native mapping services in September, leaving iPhone-equipped Google Maps fans with no way to access their chosen service except through the browser.

Apple went with a variety of map providers instead, on a region-by-region basis. Most of the data for its Maps app comes from TomTom, though, and the Dutch company clearly wants others to use its resources in a similar manner.

"In response to the increasing demand for top quality data and services, TomTom is offering a comprehensive, easy to use solution for adding location intelligence to applications," TomTom location services chief Dan Adams said in a statement.

"The launch of the TomTom LBS Platform is an important evolution. Now we can provide application developers with web-based access to high-quality location content worldwide."

Mapping wars

TomTom's platform move came just a couple days after Nokia unveiled a similar effort, which it calls Here. Here will come as an iOS app first, taking advantage of the terrible reception that greeted Apple's own Maps app.

However, Nokia will also be providing Android developers with tools to build Nokia's mapping data into their own location-based services and navigation apps.

As it happens, Nokia was largely responsible for causing a major shake-up in TomTom's business. When the Finnish firm unveiled its free satnav services in early 2010, the stock of TomTom — which at that point was almost all about selling satnav units and expensive mapping apps — took a direct and immediate hit.

Matters were not helped when Google also launched free turn-by-turn satnav a few months later.

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