Google Maps Navigation Review

Google recently released free turn-by-turn navigation for Android 1.6 and higher. I figured the trip up to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving was a good time to give it a good test run.

Visually, the application is among the highest in quality (Not surprising). Upon first look, it’s nearly indistinguishable from standalone GPS devices.

Screenshot by Google

Overall use was easy. Just enter your destination, hit navigate and you’re ready to go. There are also layers you can add for satellite imagery and points of interest among others. GPS tracking was speedy with very little delay between the marker and my actual position.

I chose to test this on a route I know very well. Springfield to KC is a trip I have made far too many times that I know it almost perfectly. At a few points, it wanted me to take roads that I would not normally take, nor understood why it would be advantageous to take them. Looking at desktop Google Maps afterwards makes me think that the mobile version will choose a route that has the least distance, not necessarily the fastest route. However, this was better than the experience I had with Telenav, which had me take gravel roads instead of more accessible and faster state routes/highways.

A couple times, the application freaked out, for lack of better term, once for Google’s map not being quite up to date. The other time was more cryptic as to why it happened. It just started “rerouting” for no apparent reason and continued that for a couple miles.

Power consumption was also a welcome relief from Telenav. Using Telenav, I had to shut off the application because it would drain my battery while plugged into the car charger. I was pleasantly surprised that Google Nav continued to charge my phone and stayed at full charge the rest of the way.

One thing that needs to be added is a nighttime display function. Using the app at night was slightly distracting with my eyes having to adjust to the brightness looking from road to my phone.

Google Navigation is a welcome update to the Maps application. It is obviously not perfect yet, but even with hiccups I had, it is by far the best GPS navigation I have used for Android. The real trick is driving smart and not following the route blindly, no matter what GPS device you have.

Enough with the Bing Commercials Already!

I have a big problem with these new Microsoft Bing TV ads. They are inaccurate for any sane person who happens to be searching the web. In case you haven’t seen them, or just need a refresher, the three I’m talking about are here, here, and here.

Now that you’ve seen them, a few results I found from searching to see if their wild tangents are true (I used Google for all of these searches):

  • Searching “breakfast” resulted in NO mentions of the Breakfast Club through 10 pages.
  • Searching “back pain” resulted in NO pages about “back packing,” “back to school,” or Bach through 10 pages (If you’re getting results about Bach from back pain, you’re doing something seriously wrong.).
  • You CANNOT get results for “bird of paradise” from “two tickets to paradise” through, you guessed it, 10 pages (Are you seeing a trend here? My feeling is that if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the first 10 pages, you’re not searching well enough).
  • NO mention of “cell wall” from searching “cell phone.”
  • Searching “tickets to hawaii” will get NO results for “hawaii five-o” through 10.
  • I could go on, but I don’t think I need to.

    If you’re wanting to compare LCD and Plasma TVs, you don’t just search for “plasma.” Are people really this dumb?! Do people expect to get reasonable results from vague searches?

    I have to be honest when I say I don’t know how fully well Bing works because I’ve only dabbled in a couple searches. I’m sure that it is a very capable search engine. And it never hurts to have an alternative, if for nothing else than the chance at different results.

    Bottom Line: Don’t try to tell the world that Bing is the perfect search engine when others give perfectly relevant results if you actually know what you’re looking for.

    Technology’s Place in our Lives

    Our beloved electronics, where would we be without them? I’ll be the first to tell you that I would go crazy if I didn’t have all of my gadgets around me at all times. That doesn’t mean that I cannot go without them for periods of time. This had been known to happen, but if I had to live the rest of my life without my phone, computer, tv, or various other electronics, I don’t know what I would do.

    I recall the big ice storm a couple years ago here in Springfield, MO. I was one of the lucky ones that did not lose power at all, but I went ten days without television or internet access. I watched about a third of my movies, read, listened to music, and even worked on this really cool Puzz 3D Millenium Falcon puzzle. Even so, I was bored out of my mind for most of that time. Has technology really destroyed our ability to entertain ourselves?

    Now, I can’t badmouth technology too much, considering I am basing my entire college career in the field of computer science. I don’t want to give up my gadgets, but I do think that they can negatively impact our lives at times.


    My first example has to do with cell phones. Most people, including myself, take their cell phones with them everywhere. That doesn’t mean it should or has to be answered in all situations. All too often people don’t know proper etiquette of where and when to answer the phone, disturbing everyone around them (e.g., store check-out lines and and movie theatres).

    On a side note with phones, if any of you have experienced phantom rings, you know how annoying they can be. For those who don’t know what a phantom ring is, it is when you think you hear your phone ring or hear/feel your phone vibrate when it actually doesn’t. It hasn’t happened much to me since I switched to the T-mobile G1, but when I had my Blackberry, it would happen at least once a day. It became very distracting.


    My second example deals with print media. We all know that online news has been taking the front seat to the newspaper and I have to say that this makes me sad. I know that it is inevitable, but I am not looking forward to the day that the only way I can get my news is from the internet. I like newspapers for one main reason: format. I like being able to look at full articles all at once. The stories are easy to find and you know you are getting that day’s news. When looking online, the date of the stories are almost never labelled on the front page and you can’t get a snippet of the story without clicking to read the full story. When I read the newspaper, I first scan the headlines to see if the story is one I want to read and even if I don’t want to read the whole story, I usually like to scan the first couple paragraphs to get the main points. So, for intsant, breaking or non-traditional(i.e., from blogs)  news, the internet is a modern wonder. But I would much rather read a newspaper everyday.

    And what happens when you lose your internet connection when that’s the only source? No news. Period.

    Along the same line, Amazon’s Kindle is an amazing piece of technology, but I don’t want to use it as my primary source for reading. I like the feel of a book in my hands. On top of that, I spend so much time in front a computer screen, I don’t think it would be healthy for my eyes to look at another screen for an extended period of time.


    We can’t deny that technology and electronics have become cornerstones in our lives that are not going away, but we can’t solely rely on them. Think of the episode of South Park from this season where the entire world goes insane because the internet is down. We must have other ways in which we can entertain ourselves so that we do not become dependent. Those are just a couple examples, but nevertheless, if someone tries to take away all of my gadgets, I’ll have to quote Charlton Heston when I say, “from my cold, dead hands.”