11 September 2018

GPS Android road navigation - Google Maps (2018)


After four years it is time to check Google Maps again. Last years were turbulent on navigation market. Faster devices, better communications and connectivity, cloud solutions...
Google is one of the major players when services for a broad number of people comes into play.  Their Google Maps (not only on phones) becomes an unofficial standard when people want to see a map, check the location, prepare a route to destination ...
Let's look at some characteristics.

PRO
+ Online maps are often updated and you don't have to wait for new map release. Maps are available for almost all world, so users don't have to deal with some clumsy map packages. If you want to explore a world on a map, you don't have to look any further.
+ Excellent search engine leaves competitors far behind. Fast and with Google's effective adjustments for concrete user really shines. You don't have to know an address, just start typing and results are shown. After the desired result is selected, you (generally) get the address, phone, reviews, (sometimes live!) occupancy, opening hours. If you want to read a review, reviews from users and Google's Local Guides are just one click away.

+ Street View and Satelite View are very useful features to see the real situation. It isn't available everywhere or in full quality, but the most interesting parts are usually covered.
+ The most accurate Live Traffic at the moment. If something happened on your way, you will be notified and rerouted. More information about Live Traffic in this article.
+ Synchronization between devices is really instantly. You can prepare a route on your computer and then send it to your phone with one click. Besides that, all history searches are seen on all devices (if a user is logged in of course).
+ Application is available on many devices (computers, phones, tablets, car radio/Android Auto ...).
+ Navigation is very good with quick rerouting if necessary. 
+ Application opens and works fast, without battery drain. Navigation can use PIP (Picture In Picture) mode or works without navigation - just with real-time traffic info. One-handed gestures are supported.
+ If we leave privacy besides, navigation is totally free. 
+ Fantastic combination with real-time public transport (where available). A simple click on Transit button shows nearby train and bus departures. It instantly calculates the best combination of different transit options and shows if your bus/train is on schedule or delayed.
+ Some places like stores, airports or hotels have indoor maps and photos.
+ Real-time sharing location to friends. Can be useful. For example, you don't have to be asked where you are at the moment and how long you will need to the destination. 
+ Sending feedback to Google. Reporting missing roads, roadworks and other problem are simple. My experience is that feedbacks are taken seriously and usually shows in one or two weeks. Probably response time depends on the importance of location and type of correction. Google's feedback works much better than any other services I tried. And because Google Maps works online, your feedback will be seen by all people.
+ You can define some of your favorite locations (Home, Work ...) and Google Maps will show distance and time necessary to that location all the time. If the traffic location will change, the color of time will change from green to orange (or red). 
+ Tight integration with Google Assistant. Many commands can be executed with your voice. For example, you can search for nearby gas stations or restaurants while driving. 
+ Developers can use almost all features of Google Maps in their applications and websites with a Google Maps Platform
+ Google announces augmented reality Street View mode to help you follow directions in real time, along with personalized recommendations to help you discover places in your surrounding. 
+ We can hear rumors that Google will integrate Waze Incident Report (road closures, accidents, police cars...) to Google Maps.


CONS
- If you drive a camper or truck, you won't get all the important information. 
- Speedcams are not supported. Otherwise, you can use TomTom Speed Cameras which works excellent with Google Maps.
- You won't see all the roadworks on the map. In some countries, only those reported by users are shown, but we are sure, that Google will improve this in the near future.
- Searching for POIs at the destination isn't very convenient.
- While driving it is helpful if navigation shows two actions ahead. The latest versions use this feature more, but there is still a place for improvement.
- A user can download an area and navigation is also available there. But if you don't have an internet connection, Google Maps isn't very useful (you won't get traffic information for example).
- Privacy consideration. Should I have to write something more?


OTHER
- You can help Google (and other users) by reviewing the places you know well. After some time, you will be awarded.  Maybe with early access to new Google products, participation in exclusive workshops, get some free place on Google Drive ...


CONCLUSION
In the last two or three years, Google Maps becomes a number one navigation tool for me. It is really useful, easy to use and available on almost all devices with different operating systems. Google Maps really makes navigation experience better and easier and I can't find a better service right now. I can highly recommend it for almost everyone who needs a navigation, information or just for looking on a map.
It is hard to understand that some car company still integrate their own audio/navigation system without a support for modern connectivity. All new systems should have Mirrorlink support or a support for Android Auto (and CarPlay).


Rating: 9/10 (check whole rating table)



2 comments:

Andrej Dolnicar said...

Great article!
For next topic, one idea: "Google Maps vs Waze: Which Is Better for You?"
In Slovenia environment, of course :)

Iztok Grilc said...

Tnx.
Interesting idea :-)