It is only fair to praise things that are genuinely good and whilst it still has time to let us down badly, so far the beta version of navigation via Google Maps on iPhone is proving to be a fantastic tool.
We have a Garmin navigation device that’s perhaps five or six years old and has always been an awkward thing to use as well as needing regular investment in new map packs. Before we came away I had an eye out for its replacement, which was probably destined to be a TomTom of some sort. I then realised that Google Maps does navigation and thought it worth a try after they released new updated apps a short while back.
It worked perfectly in Warsaw and so I decided to rely on it for the whole holiday and have not been disappointed, yet. It got us from Warsaw to a hilltop in Romagna via a hotel in Wolfsberg without missing a beat and has easily dealt with subsequent trips around the area equally well despite being warned to not use GPS in the hills.
Main advantages are:
1/ no additional devices needed, just use your phone. My phone sits nicely on a shelf in the dashboard and is charged using the normal cable and a 12v travel adapter.
2/ very up to date maps including live traffic, roadworks and accident information.
3/ extremely easy search function either for address or place
4/ extremely fast reactions
5/ very clear voice instructions
The Google nav-lady is also impossible to fluster. Garmin-lady was constantly bleating about doing a U-turn or “recalculating” whereas Google-lady never does either of them, she just comes up with a new route very quickly and keeps you moving.
The only downside is pronunciation of street or place names that are not English. Everything is spoken with a Californian accent, which for Italy makes it hard or impossible to work out what she’s saying. This can be improved but has so far been nothing more than added amusement to what is a great service because what is on the screen and the basic directions “in 800m turn left” are fine.
Today we give Google-lady a real test as we head into the hills for a tour of small but interesting villages, a lake with a dam, and more.
If she passes this test we shall ceremonially burn the Garmin this evening. Surely this signals the eventual death of dedicated navigation devices?