Google Maps with Navigation

This past weekend presented my first opportunity to try Google’s navigation service which is built on top of Google Maps in Android.  As with most things in Android directions (walk, drive and transit) are well contextualized within many places.  This contextual awareness is definitely a key strength of Android as a platform …

Anyway, I was looking for a piece of AV gear and decided to try my nearest Best Buy which I found via Google Maps and then took the opportunity to use navigation to get there.  I’ve got GPS in the car already, but figured a live test would be good … and as my GPS in the car has maps that are 5 years old, I thought I might have better luck.

Navigation started right away and the audible directions were clear if not a bit robotic…. to be expected.  When it seemed like I was there yet with no sign of the store, I thought something might be wrong.  I tried my iPhone’s Google Maps which also reported (to be expected) the same information and eventually had to fall on my manly pride and ask for directions.  The address info on the map was completely wrong and while GPS steered me properly, there was no way to find the destination.

I eventually found the store, waited patiently and discovered they did not have what I wanted.  Time could have easily have been saved using Google Shopper, or perhaps even the actual phone. (the horror!)

On the way home, I again used the phone to navigate even though I knew how to go … this time however the route plotted was a bit different than the way out and I lost connectivity a few times (AT&T) and as a result the navigation became confused.  It wasn’t until my connection was restored that my navigation was again able to be used properly.

Two key lessons …

  1. Phones are fickle as GPS devices (still) required a live data connection even for plotted routed.
  2. Navigation systems are only as good as the data on the map.

I’d still recommend Google Navigation … It looks beautiful and the audible prompts are easy to follow.  It’s an amazing free addition …

6 Replies to “Google Maps with Navigation”

  1. This is one area that Nokia has bested Google, IMO. Of course, Google’s POI database is better, but the actual navigation experience is far superior with Ovi Maps, for two main reasons:

    1. natural voices – I can’t stand the robot stuck inside Google’s Navigation
    2. more informative dashboard – Nokia’s Ovi Maps displays lots more information on the navigation screen

  2. I can live with the voice …

    Ovi Maps failed for me because the POI database is barren in the US and the address field entry only works if you are a German engineer. Mainly the lack of POI …

    If I really need the how much time to get there field, I’ll just use my car for now. The phone navigation is very much a nice to have vs. a need to have. Pedestrian navigation is considerably more useful and they both offer it.

    We have Google to thank for Ovi going free too btw …

  3. I love Google maps as well, you can search and find any place easily, and this is where Google beat Nokia. But what I do not like Google maps is that you can not store the maps in your memory, you need mobile internet, well as we all know, cell phone battery does not last long. Basicly you need backup if you intendo to use it long.

  4. One point to remember, that with pre-loaded maps, your Nokia device can navigate a route without a data connection. I use this when travelling abroad and works home as well, if you don’t want to use the data connection for some reason.

  5. for navigation (not just reference) I keep the phone plugged in while driving … quick walks seem ok. But GPS does typically kill the battery

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