First Impressions – Google Navigation Arrives Down Under

If you have been watching either the Twitter feed or Facebook page for Boydo’s Tech Talk you would have seen that Google Navigation was officially released yesterday. This is good news for those of you who have had to hack their Android devices with Brut Google Maps to get turn-by-turn navigation as there is now an elegant and less invasive solution.

I have given it a test drive (pardon the pun) to and from work and I have to say that it is probably the best GPS software I have used compared to TomTom, Garmin and the built-in GPS in our Toyota Prius. Being able to see the colour-coded traffic conditions is also a welcome addition as well as an option to choose from up to another two alternate routes to your destination (with a clear warning if it will take you on a toll road).

Google Navigation (Traffic Conditions)

Google Navigation (Traffic Conditions)

The use of Google Maps photography is another positive as I found it helpful to line up landmarks on the map with those that were approached on the road. You also have the ability to pinch to zoom in and out which is more convenient than attempting to poke at button on screen (especially when you have larger fingers).

The spoken instructions do sound a little robotic but they are understandable. Instead of receiving plain vanilla directions you also get the name of the road you are entering and also if the name of the road changes at a particular point (such as Ryde Road becoming Lane Cove Road). It’s things like this that will help people to remain aware of their surroundings and keep their eyes on the road.

By no means is this an exhaustive review but my first impressions have been good (although I suspect my phone is marring it with occasional loss of GPS signal). However, you will want to invest in a car charger if you haven’t already got one as it will drain you battery very quickly with ongoing 3G and GPS usage. Check it out if you have an Android device – it’s free and will have the GPS companies worried for sure.

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