TomTom opens portal for rapid location-based app development

Cloud-based platform will expose TomTom's extensive mapping database

Navigation technology provider TomTom today announced developer tools and a platform for location-based services (LBS) in the cloud to help in the rapid creation of apps for finding locations that are used by truck fleets and other businesses.

TomTom has been providing digital maps, traffic information and navigation technology for automotive dashboards, mobile devices and Web-based apps since 1991, when the company was founded in Amsterdam.

The new LBS platform will allow developers to access TomTom's existing location and navigation services including map displays, routing, traffic conditions and geocoding information. The portal will also give developers tools to build Web-based as well as mobile-device apps.

The portal can be accessed at developer.tomtom.com, where developers can get a free key to the API.

Dan Adams, vice president of location and live services at TomTom, said in an interview that the LBS platform launch is an "important evolution" for the company. "We found in the market a number of companies that are saying they wanted industrial strength LBS. While we definitely face competition, customers have said competitors are not filling their needs."

Markets for TomTom's portal will be governments, utilities and international companies that already use TomTom's analytics for GIS (Geographic Information Systems). TomTom's large mapping databases will be open to those GIS customers, and to developers interested in building apps that help customers find a business on a map. For example, an application developer for a restaurant chain would be able to use the portal to provide maps and directions to a nearby restaurant using GPS location information.

Adams said several hundred developers are already signed up to use the portal. The portal will support Android, iOS and BlackBerry, with plans to support Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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