This time last year, Google added new functionality to Maps on Android phones - Google Navigation. The new feature allowed you to search for directions as per usual, but then take it a step further and switch the results into turn by turn navigation.
I’ve long resisted the SatNav world, although I have no real reason why. Perhaps I couldn’t justify the cost in my head, and didn’t particularly want another gadget, although I don’t recall putting even that much thought into it.
It’s taken me a year to get round to trying out the Navigation feature, despite an attempt by Mr C to test it out that ended in an argument.
However, on my way back from the latest letter in my Alphabet Adventure, I decided that as it was a sunny day and I had a bit of time on my hands, I’d have a go and follow exactly what it said, to see how well it fared.
It really helped me get out of the immediate area, although took me up some rather small single-track roads that I would usually avoid. Once on the bigger A roads, it was a bit overkill because signage on those roads is normally pretty good.
In the end, I couldn’t stick by the challenge to follow it precisely until I got home because the battery ran out. It’s a very power-hungry app, and whilst useful, the problem is that it will get you somewhere but run out of battery to get you back.
Assuming that you really are lost and need it, or you have the capability to charge up the phone on the road, then Google Navigation is genius. Free turn by turn navigation, with no extra device cluttering up the windscreen.
This is a screenshot from the Google page because I cannot be bothered to figure out taking screenshots on my phone. It’s ridiculously complicated.
I don’t have anything to compare the app too, as mentioned I’ve not tried out turn by turn before. My favourite thing about it, though, is that it gives you the instruction and then the distance in the top left counts down until you get to where you’re going.
The audio is a generic female and perfectly understandable, if a little boring at times. You can follow the map from above, or you can zoom into street view.
It even does the recalculating thing if you miss a turning.
At the moment, Google Navigation is still just a bit of a toy to me, and perhaps only useful in emergencies. The battery problem means it isn’t something I could use every day, but to go somewhere new, or get out of a tricky situation, it can really come in handy.