Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What is wrong with Google Navigation

My wife and I went to Texas for Thanksgiving.  We used Google Navigation on the trip and we found a lot that was good and bad with the navigation.
First thing is the routing. One of the funniest things that happened on the trip involves Google Navigation, a PT Cruiser with out of state plates, and Whataburger.  My wife is from Texas and loves Whataburger's chicken strips and gravy. The sad truth is that there are no Whataburgers in south Florida and they closed all the Whataburgers in central Florida a few years ago. So as we got near Tallahassee Florida my wife put Whataburger into our Google Nav and we started on our quest for chicken strips and gravy. 
As we left the interstate we got behind a PT Cruiser with out of state plates. Now a car with out of state plates is not unusual in Florida but what happened next was just odd. As we came got closer to a major intersection Google Nav told us to turn right. Well what do you know the PT Cruiser in front of us turns right also. Well we are now in a residential area and following right behind the PT Cruiser. Now the PT Cruiser turns left and Google Nav tells us to also turn left.  It seems that for some reason Google Nav took us on this detour just to avoid the light! As we get to the major road the PT Cruiser turns right and Google Nav tells us to turn right as well. My wife and I had to wonder if the people in the PT Cruiser where also using Google Nav!  I have to wonder if the people in the PT Cruiser where thinking "why is that red Mazda following us?"
This was the least annoying of the side trips that Google Nav would take us on. One of them involved a number of secondary roads in northern Mississippi and then just to add to joy of the trip it navigated us past entrance to the hotel and back on to then interstate on-ramp. 
So besides the routing what would I like to see Google Navigation add or change?

  1. A way to add a stop in the middle of a trip. It would be nice to say find the nearest Walgreens, CVS, McDonalds, or what ever to your trip. 
  2. A fill up reminder. Have a way to set a range say for our car 300 miles and when you get near that the Navigation offers to find you the nearest gas stations.
  3. Directional search. If you are looking for a restaurant the ones behind you are probably of no interest. 
  4. Quick searches. This is less of a problem for us since my wife or I worked the searches while the other one drove, but a nice big button that would find you gas, food, or lodging.
  5. A way to customize your favorites. My wife and I always stay at LaQuinta because we are almost always traveling with our dogs.  We prefer Sonic, Whataburger and Raising Canes for fast food on the road because frankly we like them better than McDonalds and so on. So it would be great to have a button that would find the next of those restaurants on our route or the next LaQuinta.
My dream Google Nav would find me the cheapest gas starting when I have driven 300 miles.  Allow me to say that we want to stop for lunch around x and at that time have it start to look for a restaurant from a list of my favorites or at a price level. And allow me to set a time when I want to stop for the night and have it search for a hotel from a list of my favorites or from a price level and that has a vacancy. What would be even better is if it would allow me to reserve a room with a touch of a buttion on my cell phone, maybe using Google wallet.
Okay Google, Nokia/Microsoft, TomTom, Garmin, and or Apple. This is my dream navigation system for long trips. Add in options for routing like favor interstates and scenic routes and you will have a killer long distance navigation app.

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