For work, I drive from school to school fixing computers, and as such I need a reliable Turn-by-Turn navigation system to get me from point A to point B safely. I’ve been using Google Maps and Navigation for the most part with mostly successful trips. Occasionally it would tell me I have arrived at my destination when I’m still in the middle of the highway, but that might have something to do with the pin I put. I tried Nokia Maps, and Drive once and did not really enjoy the experience. Blackberry Maps and Navigation worked pretty well. Surprisingly Apple Maps and Navigation works pretty well as well. I’m going to try my best to compare the different systems.
I used Google Maps on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, Nokia Drive on the Nokia Lumia 920, Blackberry maps on the Blackberry Z10, and Apple Maps on the iPhone 5. All are LTE capable phones should connectivity should not be an issue. Though some would lag more than others when trying to find an alternate route.
Maps: The only difficulty I had with using the maps was from the Blackberry Maps. Every other system had no problem locating the correct address based on postal code or address.
Google Maps – Probably the best to manage and maintain your destinations. You have the ability to create new maps on the desktop version of Google Maps and it will sync with the mobile app. This makes setting your destinations a lot easier as well as retrieving. Google Maps also allows you to create multi destination routes to estimate how long it would take total.
Blackberry Maps – Searching for location is not that good. I tried adding purely postal code but it would only detect the first 3 digits. It could not properly get a fix until I type in the full address to the place.
Nokia Maps and Apple Maps – are nothing special in this aspect. Both worked as advertised.
Navigation: This is where it sets most of them apart. Some of them just don’t know where you are and assume you are still on the road. Others work flawlessly. Only Google navigation was able to properly determine an accurate estimate travel time, taking into account the current traffic condition. Whether it’s packed or not. And also allowed the ability to avoid Highways or express toll routes. I don’t get compensated to go on Toll Routes so I avoid them completely. But during rush hour it’s quicker to take local routes rather than be stuck in grid lock on the highway with no way out.
Google Navigation – I have no issues using Google Navigation in this aspect. I set in the destination and it starts talking. It also takes account into traffic whenever the streets support it. Going on the highway it will tell you with a colored orb whether it’s going to be good or bad. Green for traffic flowing well. Yellow for traffic is going slower than usual. Red means prepare yourself to be stuck in traffic. Black means no data provided, this usually only applies to smaller streets. The only thing I wish it did was announce the street names as well. All the other navigation systems seems to be able to, I am sure Google with all its resources poured into their mapping system would add this feature in.
Redirecting route also works great and quickly. Right when I get off the route it told me to go it would quickly reroute me in less than a second. It also knows when you are not on the road and will work just as well. Especially when you are pulling out of a parking lot.
Nokia Drive – Though this is still in beta mode, I will give it the benefit of the doubt. It does have some nice features such as letting you know how fast you are going. And annoying you when you’re exceeding the speed limit. That feature can be turned off. It also announces the street you’re going to turn into which is something Google Navigation failed to implement. But that’s all that’s good with it. Navigating with this was not very pleasant. It always assumes you are on the road, even when you’re in the parking lot and it doesn’t know exactly which direction you are facing until you hit the road. I made a lot of wrong turns based on this leaving parking lots. When it comes to rerouting, it is one of the slowest system I have seen. It took me a whole block for it to finally determine the next possible route and by then I had already missed the turn. I have to literally slow down to wait for the system to recognize its stupidness and reroute. It also takes Nokia Drive a little longer to know that you actually went off route to reroute you. So even that adds time to your trip which is not a good thing. For the occasional use and if you are not in a hurry Nokia Drive would be decent I suppose. But again it is still in Beta so I will give it the benefit of the doubt and try it again once they finish the product
Blackberry Navigation – This was a lot better than Nokia Drive Beta. But I would say still not as well as Google. But it’s getting there. It was able to determine that I am still on the parking lot so it would show me relative where I am point at. Rerouting is also quick. The only downside is I cannot find the setting to avoid highway or toll roads. Something which only Google seems to have. Other than that I have nothing really to complain about it. It doesn’t show traffic information and doesn’t take into account of traffic conditions to your trip. Again only Google seems to have this implemented.
Apple Navigation – With the horror stories I have read when it first came out I was skeptical about it, but decided to give it a shot anyway. Surprisingly it worked quite well. Did everything all the other navigation systems did, minus traffic conditions and avoiding highways and/or tolls. It is able to announce the street names, albeit not properly but still did a decent job. I purposely went off the assigned route to see how well it would redirect me an alternative path. It was able to determine my path and redirect me as soon as I went off course.
If I would to rank them from best to worse, it would go as follows: Google Maps, Apple Maps, Blackberry Maps and Nokia Drive Beta.
Even though Google Maps does not announce the street names, it more than makes up for it by more accurately predicting the length of the trip during rush hour than any other system. It is also much easier for me to manager my call locations via Google maps on the desktop. I don’t need it to remind how fast I am going like the Nokia Drive does or beep when I am exceeding the speed limit. Apple Maps and Blackberry maps would come in second. They both do all the same things and work quite well. If it took into account for traffic conditions, then it would make it on par with Google Maps. Nokia Drive Beta still has a lot of work to do for me to even consider using it mainstream. I get frustrated waiting for the navigation to update. I do wish Google would add the street name announcement to Google Navigation that would make Google Maps even better. Sometimes it would say “Turn right” and I see 2 streets in close proximity that I have to look back at the maps just to make sure I am going into the right street. With the street announcement, I can look for the street sign and know that this is my turn. Makes things a lot easier, plus I wouldn’t have to always look at the screen to make sure my turn is coming up.