So by now you should know that one of the main enhancements Apple made to the iPhone in iOS4 is the ability to do limited multi-tasking and maintain certain services such as core location, music playback and VoIP in the background for minimised apps. It’s been great news for apps such as Last.fm and Pandora, but one of the best uses has to be background navigation. The problem with iPhone car navigation apps up until now has been that if someone called, a text came in or you needed to access something else on the phone, the navigation app you were relying on to guide you to your destination had to be quit and you’d therefore lose your navigation aid. It could be a real problem if you were navigating through a complicated series of directions when a call came in, disrupting your navigator, even if you didn’t want to accept the incoming call, leaving you in the lurch.
Now that turn-by-turn navigation apps such as TomTom have got the ability to maintain navigation, position and even shout out directions when not in the foreground, have iPhone navigation apps really come of age? The first major car navigation app to take advantage of background core location was the infamous TomTom. Arguably one of the best navigation apps available for the iPhone, and although pretty pricey, TomTom is certainly a fully featured match for a dedicated PND. We’ve covered the TomTom iPhone app before, so we won’t go into the program’s basics, but with background navigation enabled, TomTom continues to run when minimised as you might expect. It’ll even shout out directions and traffic notifications to you from behind something else, a pretty important feature if you happen to be on a call when a crucial turning comes up. You could argue that having a dedicated PND solves the problem entirely, but these days who wants to carry around more than one device when your smartphone basically does it all, and for the most part just as well as multiple devices. Read On