This post summarizes my first experiences with Google maps turn by turn navigation. Please note that turn by turn is not supported in UK, not even as beta!
I took for a ride a hacked version of US Google maps application running on Motorola Milestone. It runs very smooth, you can use all Google maps power when searching, including post code search, which can’t be done using Motonav. That’s a great plus!
I have played with different destinations and every time Google was able to give me very reasonable routes – another advantage over Motonav, which tends to force me into congested streets in town centres. Google navigation reacted very fast to all mistakes on the road with almost immediate route recalculations. So far, so good.
After about 20 minutes of cruising in neighbourhood I understood why Google decided to block Maps Mavigation in UK – it cannot navigate here. Literally. It’s impossible to drive using voice commands given by the navigation – it lost some turns and remaining ones were told when I was in the middle of cross roads when I had no chances of turning. To get the directions right, I had to look on the screen all the time and even though navigation wasn’t easy since there are no icons displayed to show what to do next. The map itself is easly readble though.
You may also forget about roundabout notifications – with Google you don’t take second exit, you just drive straight through cross roads. It’s far from we all got used to.
I wish I could finish my list of complains now, but there are still two thing I must mention – both small but annoying. According to Google Navigation most of the time you drive on unknown road, which is quite strange as road names are correctly displayed on map.
Last quirk I’ve noticed is the most terrible voice I ever heard in any navigation (and I have tested quite a lot of them). Google decided to use Text-to-speech synthesis, which isn’t very good. The voice is absolutely artificial, it reminded me early TTSs I used to play with ten years ago. And I think most of them knew how to read “road” – definitely it should not be read as “hawl”.
I will be waiting for new updates to Google Navigation. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Google will turn its Navigation in really usable product. But I think I will stay with Garmin for next year or two.