The search process for Expedia and Trip Advisor are largely the same as the Yelp process described above. Trip Advisor has fewer categories than Yelp, but with a stronger emphasis on exploring a new city with its "Things to do" category. Expedia only searches for hotels, but is unique in that its information page includes user and professional ratings, high and low rates, and detailed information about amenities and fees. Searching the built-in POI database will display clickable Yelp, Trip Advisor, or Expedia icons if any of these services has ratings or reviews available. However, there's no way to jump among the services from within any of the connected search engines in the Live Services menu. So, for example, you'll have to re-initiate a search if you decide to research a hotel on Expedia finding it via Trip Advisor or Yelp. Juggling these five search engines can be very confusing, so much so that at the end of my testing even I'm still scratching my head over it.
Back on the destination detail screen, hitting the Select button locked in the Bi-Rite Creamery as my chosen destination and gave me a few more options before I started driving, including a preview of traffic, information about the cheapest fuel, and any speed cameras along the displayed route. I was also able to change the route if I wanted to, for example, add a via point, avoid certain areas, or preview an alternative route. For example, routing a trip from San Francisco to San Jose may yield two route choices: one that is 49 miles but takes 90 minutes and another that is 57.3 miles, but only takes 59 minutes thanks to freer-flowing traffic.
Tweeting while driving
The route detail screen also gives users access to the TomTom GO Live 1535M's Twitter integration. Hitting the Twitter button posts a tweet to a Twitter account specified during setup with your destination and estimated time of arrival before your trip starts. If you get rerouted or run into traffic along the route and your ETA changes (for better or worse), the 1535M will automatically send updates to your Twitter account detailing the change. Upon arriving at a destination, the 1535M can even allow you to check-in to your destination with a customizable tweet. Users are able to adjust what the TomTom tweets in a settings menu, but once you're under way, there is no user intervention required. The default message states, "I will arrive at Ocean beach at 2:42pm (local time) #TomTom."
I didn't ask the PND to tweet every trip that I took, but I set up a separate public Twitter account to keep my followers from being inundated with my comings and goings, and I'd recommend that you do the same for the purposes of privacy. This way, users who are concerned about telling the world that they're not home can set that separate account as private and only give access to trusted people, such as parents, domestic partners, or friends. Used this way, I found the Twitter integration could be quite useful and was a much safer alternative to attempting to text my ETA to my friends.
With the trip under way, the TomTom GO Live 1535M performed nearly identically to the GO Live 2535M that we recently tested. You can check out that review for the full rundown.
TomTom also places voice commands at the forefront of the GO Live 1535M's interface. After tapping the microphone icon on the map screen, the device prompts to "Say a command" while displaying a selection of sample commands on screen. From here I was able to set an address or POI category as my destination by stating commands such as, "Navigate to home." or "Drive to an address." When inputting an address, I was also able to state the whole address in one command, as in "235 2nd Street, San Francisco, California" without pauses between the street name, number, city, and state. Via voice, users are also able to initiate a hands-free call with a Bluetooth-paired phone, have traffic data read aloud, or make adjustments to the current route with a command like "Minimize traffic delays" or "Calculate alternative route."
TomTom's made a serious attempt to gain parity with the new generation of navigation apps for smartphones by adding "app" functionality to its already impressive line of GO Live navigators. However, I put "apps" in quotes because I'm not sure that's the best term for what's happening here. These are not applications that can be uninstalled nor can the user download and add more apps to the 1535M's OS. Rather, I like to think of these as services or search engines. However, provided that they still give the user access to the most accurate and most relevant POI data for navigation, being just a service isn't such a bad thing.
While I was pleased with the sheer volume of data that the TomTom Live Service gave me access to, I wasn't too happy with the hoops that I was made to jump through to gain access to that data. I can understand why TomTom would try to streamline the process to make browsing safer while on the road, but the way that, for example, the Yelp app doesn't give users access to the granular subcategorization takes away a large part of what makes searching these services useful. Instead, TomTom really only takes advantage of the ratings--and then only from within what ends up being five distinct (and sort of clunky) search engines.
When the dust settled at the end of my testing, the TomTom GO Live 1535M is still what I'd consider to be a good navigator and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone in the market for a PND. But make sure that you're buying it for the navigation with the apps as a bonus, and not the other way around.