Sunday, November 1, 2009

Google Navigator for Android Review: Good For Free But Far From Perfect

At Google ville kaste sig over navigations markedet var mere end forudsigeligt - ligeledes var det givet på forhånd at man ikke overhaler alle de garvede på markedet i en version 1.0, men som det er med alle Googles foretagender er det kun et spørgsmål om tid ...

The move into the navigation market was expected and the (lack of) quality too ... but with all the Google stuff you'll just have to see what happens next ...


[...] The driving directions are, for the most part, just fine. Re-routing is fast when you make an unscheduled turn, and the Droid phone appears to track the road as well or better than an iPhone. I have heard others talk of reliability issues, but frankly, that kind of evaluation takes weeks or months, and results can differ from location to location. Nobody outside of Google knows exactly what the reliability weak points are, especially since Google is using (from what I can tell) its own map data.

When you've navigated, you can pull up layers—traffic view, which shows you where the trouble's going to be; satellite view, which looks neat but I don't know how practical it is; and POI layers, like where the nearest gas or parking is. There's some customization you can do to this, but only in the 2D bird's-eye view.

The power comes when you select the Route Info screen (shown above), by popping up a menu while in your navigation screen. There you can see an icon with a solid arrow and a broken arrow, indicating alternate routes. Tap that icon, and you'll see your route plus two ghostly alternatives. By selecting one of the alternatives up top, you can re-route. The Route Info screen also contains the all-important turn-by-turn list, buried a bit more than I'd like, but clear and readable nonetheless.

Tooling around northeast Seattle has been fine. My gripes about the driving interface are mostly cosmetic: You can see the time till arrival, in hours and minutes, but you don't see a time of arrival, which I prefer. On other navigators and apps I've gotten used to seeing my speed in MPH and even posted speed limits, and Google doesn't show those either.

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