Chris Kranky

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Google Android GPS

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

Google announced a free upgrade to their Google Maps application for Android phone to provide a turn-by-turn GPS application.  I’ve long been a fan of my Tom Tom GPS, works great, is to use and hasn’t failed me yet. I’ve personalized and even had one of my children re-record all the voice prompts (all Dad’s can understand this).  So I prepared to wage war against Google on this front.

Unfortunately, the Google GPS actually works and no doubt Tom Tom is doing all sorts of damage control, but as I’ve pointed out repeatedly it’s impossible to compete against FREE and Tom Tom may well be collateral damage.

Let me hit the negative points, there is no windshield mount for the phone, so you’re left trying to figure out how to navigate and hold the phone. This is a serious safety issue. Second, programming your destination is not easy task with the sub-optimium Android keyboard and finally the on-screen display leaves a lot to be desired. Pretty it is not.

But the true question is “did the Google GPS navigate me to my destination”. Well yes it did. It provided me turn-by-turn voice instruction and got me to where I was going. The reality is while many of us now have a GPS, we really only use it when we’re going someplace new and not likely a daily event.

Google GPS did it’s job and I can easily imagine that future versions will only get better. It’s only software right?

A follow-on question is “if I had Google GPS would I buy a separate GPS receiver?”. Argh – that’s a harder question, the realilty is probably not (and probably not the answer Tom Tom wants me to write – another great consulting gig lost). While Google GPS isn’t that great, the free factor seems to be the magic word.

Google GPS needs wireless access (as there are no stored maps) so you’re not going to depend on it in a rural situation but for a large % of us travelers, it’s a fine primary choice.