Last week Dr. Jim Taylor had an underwhelming experience with Bing’s turn-by-turn garbage for WinMo (double garbage), talking trash about all navigation systems that use wireless service.
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.
Bad diagnosis, Doctor. While that and the rest of your list of complaints you built from a short field test of Microsoft’s slipshod copycat of Google Maps Navigation may be true of Bing, I drove over six hundred miles this weekend relying on Android’s navigation system from New York through Vermont and New Hampshire, encountering extended edge connections and sporadic zone deaths and have nothing but praise to report.
With regards to the main controversy of such navigation systems, that if you lose your signal you’re screwed, in addition to sailing through said dead zones without incident I did an airplane mode test of a forty mile leg, starting the software on my hotel’s wifi and shutting off wifi and cellular before driving. Google’s system does in fact download the entire trip in advance.
The text to speech is lovely, accurate, complete and on-time. Voice recognition is impressively accurate. If you opt to type in an address, the Google Search-like autocompletion makes it easy, knowing where you are and where you might want to go based on the first few letters you type in, and it also autocompletes addresses of anyone in your contacts and anything you searched for on a computer with Google Maps while signed in. Not bad.
The traffic data is fascinatingly superb and updated swiftly. It’s nice to know if you’re going to hit a jam, offering an opportunity to go for an alternate route which you may fire up in a couple quick taps; but if you decide to suck it up and make your way through the jam, no more mystery on where the jam will end and when you’ll be Oscar Mike.
Very fast and solid satellite lock, zero lag. Zero lag. You may overlay a satellite layer along with the usual points of interest flagging (gas stations, restaurants, ATMs, parking etc). Run Trapster in the background and you’ll get speed trap warnings (I spent most of the highway rides north of 80mph, no tickets thanks in part to the Trapster warnings and good luck). The Google car dock in the picture has a decent built-in speaker and the call quality on speaker is real nice. Voice dialing included of course. The interface is elegant and simple, no quirks that I could find and nothing anyone who managed to load up this website couldn’t figure out immediately.