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.

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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.

    A Trip to the Park

    I took a trip to the park the other day. Ritter Spring Park north of Springfield, MO to be specific. I decided to take my trusty camera along to snap a few photos of what I saw while I was there. I also wanted to see how well Google My Tracks GPS tracking for Android on the T-Mobile G1 worked on a smaller scale. It worked well (see map of the path I walked below).

    I know that I don’t start and end at the same point. It was a little while before I thought of starting the application. On top of that, it’s a jumbled mess when you zoom in because I did a lot of backtracking to take some shots.


    So, without further ado, the pictures. To be honest, I’m not even sure I was supposed to be walking down these paths because I was first greeted with this sign:

    Park Sign: No Tresspassing?

    Park Sign: No Trespassing?

    And then the rest:

    Dead Tree

    Dead Tree

    Running Stream with a Fallen Tree

    Running Stream with a Fallen Tree

    Bird of Prey: Hawk? Falcon?

    Bird of Prey: Hawk? Falcon? Does anybody know?

    A Group of Purple Flower

    A Group of Purple Flowers

    A Group of Turtles Lying on a Fallen Tree

    A Group of Turtles Lying on a Fallen Tree

    A Small Waterfall at the Edge of a Pond

    A Small Waterfall at the Edge of a Pond