Amsterdam based navigation service company, TomTom, has released updated maps of India for its VIA Series portable navigation devices, claiming to cover over 5,548 cities and towns across the country. Sanu Vasudevan, National Sales Manager for TomTom India, informed that the maps would also offer advanced Lane Guidance for 3,200 intersection. He elaborated that the maps would offer extensive coverage of new highways and intercity road networks added to the current release, and offer a more realistic representation of driving environment to help users choose the right lane instantly on select intersections.

POIs: Besides these additions, the maps will also offer new point of interest categories such as ATMs, petrol stations, restaurants, places of worship, shopping centres and many more. According to the TomTom India website, these maps feature 4 million Points of Interest (POI) in 62 categories.

House Numbers: The maps will also offer Address Points or house/establishment addresses for Delhi NCR and Chandigargh, and 2D City Maps for 10 Indian cities, displaying two-dimensional representations of detailed building footprints; town blocks, including sidewalks and water systems; and railway infrastructures.

In another statement, TomTom informed that it has added 270 cities and towns to its navigation coverage in India, making the navigable coverage available for 99% of urban population. We’re not sure if street level data coverage is listed separately by TomTom, as it had claimed to offer street street level data for 100 cities, at the time of expanding its coverage in India.

TomTom has also expanded its global coverage specifically in France, Ireland, Vietnam and UAE, with special emphasis on their Address Points product.

In total, TomTom now claims to offer 160 million Address Points in 20 countries, with significant map coverage in Turkey, Mexico, Brazil and India. In Western Europe, TomTom claims 500,000 edits which will add database features such as geometry, street-names, speed restrictions and one-way information.

Other options: MapmyIndia currently provides street level data for 4751 cities across India, while SatGuide currently provides street level data for 900 cities . Navteq, the Location and Commerce Unit of Nokia, is now offering street level data for 4,200 cities in India through navigation devices and on Nokia Maps preinstalled on Nokia smartphones. Just a couple of days back, Airtel had also launched its own location app for smartphones, offering voice based turn by turn navigation, and real time traffic information, in addition to route planning and POI (Points of Interests) search. Read our review of the app here.  Google had also launched its voice navigation and live traffic information in six Indian cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. However, Google’s Navigation service doesn’t use offline maps.

What’s the buzz? TomTom also provides mapping data globally for Apple’s new Maps app (starting iOS6). Apple moved from Google Maps to their own maps, which were plagued by inaccuracies and inconsistencies, and lack of detail. Apple even apologized for it and suggested other options to users. Many speculate that this might have caused the departure of Scott Forstall, who was in charge of Apple’s mobile software efforts. So with TomTom coming out with more detailed maps, there’s buzz that even Apple Maps might benefit.

Our Take: The problem with mapping data, is that it is extremely geographically subjective, especially outside highly dense urban areas. For instance, with Apple’s maps, which are powered by TomTom, there has been a huge fallout, where there have been reports in America, showing dismal coverage in locations such as New England and Boston, with great coverage in the Bay Area. So it remains to be seen whether TomTom is able to offer equally good coverage for non-urban areas in India. However, the user interface has proved to be their most compelling feature, so if it works in your area, it’ll be a great experience.

Note that in light of TomTom Geospatial’s with Oracle 12c , expect increased application of TomTom’s database in business applications.

Werner Egipsy Souza also contributed to this post.