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September 25, 2010

Navigating on My Droid

This is not good news for Garmin or TomTom. And this definitely makes my Droid X cooler than Mary's iPhone.

My Droid comes from Verizon Wireless (VZW); but there is no reason in the world to pay VZW a monthly fee for navigation. On the Droid you navigate with Google maps and even have the ability to superimpose layers showing street level views (where available), traffic (where available), satellite, terrain and more.

The maps get downloaded when you need them. I probably wouldn't like what would happen if I had no cell coverage in a place I wanted to start navigating; but the maps are cached so they don't disappear in dead spots. The maps are always the most uptodate available (that's different than always being uptodate). With Garmin I used to pay every year to get new maps; No wonder Garmin just sent notice of a price decrease.

At first I had some trouble with the user interface, probably because I was making things too complicated. For example, when you're navigating the familiar plus and minus for changing the scale of the map are missing. Searched all over for them. What you do when you want to scale up or down are the two-finger gestures the iPhone made famous; flick to enlarge, stretch to shrink.

The onscreen interface for navigation really is clumsy and makes it almost impossible to find recent destinations or to navigate to a contact (there's a screen for these but I can't find it when I want it). One big advantage, however, since the navigation is tied into Google, is that you can enter almost anything as the destination: "pizza place" or "Champlain College", for example, Google finds the associated address.

But, again, this is making things too complicated. If you push the "Voice Search" on screen button and say "navigate to Champlain College" and then confirm that this what you meant, you are immediately in navigate mode with the destination entered. Note that this does NOT depend on you having stored Champlain College as a destination; it comes from a Google search on the words. This is cool. And I'm really going to miss it when we travel out of North America and my phone doesn't work at all.

Related posts:

Droid Setup – Day 1 of My Re-Retirement

This post was swyped on my droid

Swyping from my Droid – The Supplement

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