Purchasing a Smartphone saved me the expense of buying a GPS navigation device for my car. If it were not for my daughter looking at me the way only a teenager can and asking, “Why don’t you just use your phone?” I’d still be considering the purchase of a GPS device.
Prior to using the Smartphone I’d go to MapQuest and Google Maps to print out both sets of directions. There were some features on MapQuest that I liked, but most times I found Google Maps to be more accurate (most, but not all times). Armed with my printed directions I’d set out on my journey, making the inevitable U-turn along the way. It became a joke in my household about how many U-turns it took me to reach a destination.
Google Maps for GPS Navigation
Having an Android device, Google Maps comes pre-installed so I might as well use what’s there and free. Setting it up to reach my destination is simple enough, or so I thought. The first time I used it to navigate to the local store, it did well. But, on my way home I decided to take a different turn to see if the GPS would reposition and guide me back home. It didn’t. It remained silent until I found my way back onto the originally plotted course. Then the voice picked up where we left off.
Hmmm, that’s not good. Suppose I was in Timbuktu and needed to get home? I need my navigator it to recalculate on the fly.
After I got home I realized I hadn’t given the device full access to my location. There were a few settings I had to adjust. I had to turn the “Location Reporting” setting on in order for the device to recalculate the directions.
Hiccups using Google Maps
There’s no doubt that Google’s GPS navigation has added value to my life, but it’s quickly trying to detract from it with the constant activation of Google Voice. I made the mistake of asking the device for the address of a restaurant. Armed with the address, I used Google Maps to get me there. I was feeling super hip and techie until I kept hearing a pinging sound every time the GPS gave me directions. Throughout the entire journey every direction was accompanied by several bings
It appears Google Map’s audible directions continually activated Google Voice. Even after turning Google Voice off and removing it from the active programs, it kept popping up. While driving I handed the phone over to my daughter to get Google Voice to shut up, but no luck. I eventually pulled into a parking lot, shut the phone off and turned it back on. I then re-programmed the trip into Google Maps and all was good.
Unfortunately, this has happened more than once. It seems that if I ask Google Voice something prior to using Google Maps, Google Voice remains active until I reboot the phone. I don’t know if it’s a glitch or ignorance on my part, but if someone could give me a better solution, I’m all ears.
GPS Navigation – Experimenting with MapQuest
There was one occasion where Google Maps just would not give me proper directions. I put in the original and final destinations and it continually changed the final destination. It kept changing the final address to a location that was basically around the corner from me. I got the same results whether I used my phone or input the information on my laptop.
Not wanting to spend my time fighting with Google Maps, I downloaded the MapQuest app. It properly plotted the location both on my computer and the phone. The only problem I had with MapQuest is that the application crapped out on me 3 blocks from my starting location.
I pulled over (again) and restarted the app. Fortunately, I had printed the directions for situations just like this. Once the app was restarted, it worked properly.
Google Maps vs. MapQuest
I find the MapQuest app quite a bit chattier than Google Maps. The MapQuest voice is much more robotic and emotionless than that on Google Maps. Missing a turn is impossible with MapQuest because the robotic voice almost threatens you to make the turn.
Where Google Maps gives you a heads up within a quarter mile of an upcoming turn and then one more time as you approach the turn, MapQuest constantly repeats the number of feet before the upcoming turn and then robotically repeats the direction as you approach the turn. There are pros and cons to this approach. Some folks like to be constantly reminded. Other folks enjoy a quiet ride and prefer to be spoken to only when necessary.
When setting out for a long stretch of road MapQuest informs you of the number of miles you’ll travel on the road before having to make a turn. Google Maps, on the other hand, is silent. Google Maps only talks when it has to.
Always Have a Backup
Until I get 100% comfortable with GPS navigation, I’ll print a hard copy of the directions if possible. If printing the directions isn’t possible, I’ll always compare Google Maps to MapQuest before I set out. As I said earlier, the GPS navigation has added value to my life, but sometimes I miss using a good old-fashioned map.