I’ve never been a fan of actually using GPS navigation. Sure, I’ve always thought it was insanely cool that it was possible, I just didn’t want to use it myself. For unfamiliar destinations I generally prefer researching a route first, and for familiar ones I generally prefer just relying on my local knowledge. But I’ve found something that I do like using it for: Traffic.
I recently started a new job, exchanging a fairly short commute for a ~40-mile trek across the Los Angeles freeway system. Under ideal conditions, it’s about 45 minutes. When the freeways are bogged down (i.e. when I’m actually going to be driving), it can take an hour and a half or more.
When I landed the job, I replaced my phone with a G2. It’s a heck of a lot faster than my old phone, plus it can handle newer software…like Google’s turn-by-turn navigation app for Android. After trying a couple of different routes the first few days, I tried it out…and discovered that it factors in live traffic data when calculating the remaining time.
The upshot: I can walk out the door, start up the app, and figure out which of three main routes will get me there fastest. (Well, least slowly, anyway.)
Of course, it’s not perfect. It’s based on traffic now, and over the course of a predicted hour-plus, the route could easily get more congested. That’s not even counting potential accidents. It does seem to update frequently, though, and knowing I’ve avoided a 100-minute drive in favor of 70 minutes really outweighs the annoyance of a mechanical voice telling me how to get to the freeway from home.
I do have to remember not to rely on it too heavily at the end of the trip, though. I left it on by mistake after selecting my route to the LA Convention Center for Adobe MAX this morning, and instead of turning it off, I let it direct me straight past the parking garage.
So the barrier to entry for you was he mechanical voice?
Btw, that app sounds kind of awesome – probably better than the way Sprint Navigator supposedly considers traffic conditions.
Nah, the barrier to entry was the constant interruptions any time I wanted to take a *slightly* different route than the one planned out ahead of time by the GPS, whether because I knew a more convenient route or because of a change in plans. Not to mention interrupting with things I already know, like how to get to the freeway from my home & vice versa.
Even this one gets confused sometimes: I can cut my commute in half by driving to the end of a train line and taking the train the rest of the way, but Google Navigation only knows about the back way into the train station, not the main entrance, so it tries to send me on this bizarre freeway U-turn path that adds 5-10 minutes…even if I’m staring at the driveway!
The main thing is that I don’t want to get completely dependent on the GPS. I’d rather get a general feel for the area so that if the battery dies, or it loses its connection, or something, I still have some idea of where I am and can make it back to more familiar territory.