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Bing Voice Navigation Road Test

I was really excited to learn that Bing now has voice-guided navigation. I have a Nuvi GPS unit, but that just means one more tech device I need to carry around when I travel.

I installed the Bing update yesterday and took the voice nav out for a test drive seeing if it could get me to my health club about 8 miles from my home. Here is what I found:

1. Trying to input the destination address by voice failed several times. I had to add it manually.

2. Bing searched and locked on the destination within a few seconds and I was prompted to follow the highlighted route (by a very pleasant-voiced young lady).

3.  Bing directed me promptly and accurately from my home to the highway. Notably, Bing directed me with street names, not just, for example, “next exit on right.”

4. Bing prompted me every half mile as I approached my exit.

5. Problem: Several times during the short drive (and return), Bing recalculated and changed my route, telling me to get off several exits early (of course, I knew the route, so I ignored it). As soon as it sensed that I wasn’t following those new directions, Bring returned me to the original directions.

6. Problem: Bing was often late in giving me directions (e.g., I had already arrived at the juncture) or behind (e.g., I was already at the subsequent juncture). I assume that is because it wasn’t getting consistent cellular signal to keep up with me.

7. Problem: Bing didn’t indicate which direction on a road I should take (e.g., it told me to take San Pedro Rd., but not whether to take it east or west).

8. The directions that guided me on the screen were clear, in large font, and accurate.

9. Bing did get me to my destination and back, but I’m not sure how it would work with the above problems if I didn’t know where I was going.

Conclusion: Bing Voice Navigation is a potentially useful tool that may be accurate enough to get you places without having to lug around another device. I think a considerable drawback of these smartphone navigation apps is that they rely on cellular signals rather than direct GPS signals to get the guidance information. This technical difference presents two problems: 1) it won’t work if there isn’t a cell signal and 2) it will work inconsistently if there is spotty cell service. So, based on this initial test drive, I would use it if I needed directions and didn’t have my GSP unit with me. But I can’t say that I trust it sufficiently to rely on it when I have to get somewhere for which I have no familiarity.

What have you folks found in your test drives?