Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn-By-Turn GPS [Android]

Ads by Google

nav2   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]Upon returning from a trip to Washington DC yesterday, I realized how much I’ve come to depend on GPS navigation for my Android phone. Not only did it prevent me from succumbing to the twists and turns of the DC city streets, but it helped us navigate to all of the museums and monuments while we were walking through the Capital area.

For years I wanted to buy one of those expensive car GPS units, but never got around to buying one. In the end, my procrastination turned out to be a very good thing, because eventually the Android phone that I received for Christmas covered that base. This is because Google Maps for the Android now includes Google Maps Navigation, an awesome turn-by-turn navigation system that performs as good or better than some of the best GPS units out there.


This works a little bit like the previous version of Google Maps with GPS, which I wrote about previously using my Windows Mobile phone. Ellie also previously mentioned similar mobile navigation systems when she wrote about 6 subway map tools you can use with your mobile phone.

However, Google Maps GPS navigation for Android overlays your GPS location information onto GPS maps in a real time turn-by-turn display. When you enter “navigation mode” the map zooms into the sort of real time mapping mode that you expect to see on a GPS device. As you approach turns or intersections, the unit lists what route you need to take next and the distance to the next turn. The system is even voice-enabled (with either a male or female voice) turn on that option.

Ads by Google

From Google Maps To Google Navigation

On your GPS-enabled Android phone, you’ve always had the ability to go to “My Location” for a blinking blue dot that identifies where you are. This ability integrates the mobile Internet data stream with the GPS location coordinates. Google Maps uses your mobile Internet connection to draw out the underlying map, complete with streets and locations. It then turns to your phone’s GPS coordinates to integrate your position on top of that map.

gnavigate1   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]

Within Google Maps, you can always see that little blue location dot, based on either your GPS location or the cell tower triangulated “best guess” (if GPS isn’t enabled) by pressing on the “My Location” button within Google Maps. However, what if you have a dashboard mount for your mobile Android PDA and you want to use it for turn-by-turn directions? Well, now that Google has integrated Navigation into Google Maps, all you have to do is press the “Directions” button.

gnavigate2   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]

Typically, you’ll want to know how to get from where you are to some other location. For this reason, the first field usually defaults to “My Location.” You can type in the exact address where you want to go, or you can conduct an Internet-based search for the location by pressing the little “search” button to the right of the field. Select whether you want the best driving, metro or walking route, and then press “Go.”

gnavigate3   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]

Using the information you’ve provided, Google Maps puts together the fastest driving, metro or walking route given your current location. Each of the items under the “Directions” header is a single step within your entire set of turn-by-turn directions for the entire trip. At the top, you’ll find the total distance of the trip and the estimated travel time for both standard driving as well as estimated time it should take with average traffic delays. By the way – I’ve found that the driving time estimates are eerily accurate, almost down to the exact minute in some cases when there are no significant delays along the way.

gnavigate4   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]

Your navigational window appears as shown above while you’re driving. Currently, I have my phone undocked, so the display is vertical, but when you mount your phone in a dashboard docking station, it will appear exactly as above but in the horizontal view. A blue dot identifies your current position, and changes to an arrow when you are in motion, showing your current direction of travel. The navigational screen highlights your route in blue. At the top of the window you’ll find the next intersection or turn in your route plan, as well as the distance to that turning point. At the bottom of the window you’ll find the estimated travel time remaining until you reach your destination.

See the little black dot next to the “9 hr” estimate? That updates based on any traffic information that’s available. In other words, good traffic flow means you get a green light. When you’re in a slow or stopped traffic area, this indicator changes color to reflect that you’ve entered a traffic zone that may alter your estimated arrival time. If you touch the indicator, the display switches to the “traffic” view.

traffic2   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]

This view is actually extremely useful. For the higher population centers like small and large cities, traffic information is usually available. For those areas, you’ll see current traffic status reflected on the traffic map with green, amber or red strips of road. If available, there’s also little indicators reflecting construction zones. If a strip of road on this display is red, you could save a lot of time on your trip by trying to locate an alternative route around that stopped/slow traffic zone.

Want even more information layered on top of your map? Just click the menu button and select “Layers.”  This is where you can add lots of important information to your map, or switch to a different view mode such as Satellite or Traffic view.

gnavigate5   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]

If you really hate worrying about where the next place to get gas or food is located, simply enable the “Gas Stations” and “Restaurants” layers, and those locations will show up on your navigational screen with their corresponding symbols.

gnavigate6   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]

Once I enabled the restaurants layer, you can see above that the map displays local places to with a fork/spoon symbol. In the map above, I have the choice of a place to eat right along the highway, or I can opt to travel a little bit off the beaten path to go to a restaurant on the water. Most travelers would have no idea that there’s an alternative place to eat, and like everyone else you’d have to fight the crowds. But with Google Maps Navigation, you get extra insight into those sort of hidden spots everywhere you travel.

If you’re the sort of person that is more textual, and you just like to know what route number to look for and which direction to turn, you can select “More” from the menu and click on “Directions List.”

gnavigate7   Use Google Maps Navigation For Turn By Turn GPS [Android]

This display mode shows you distance and time to destination, as well as all of the turn by turn directions with your upcoming turn highlighted in green. In this mode, there are no graphics or indicators to confuse you – just glance at the upcoming turn and route information and make the turns as needed. The window will update with your new status as you drive, so you’ll always know where to turn next.

I now use Google Maps navigation as my trusty guide no matter where we travel. It was running during the entire 10 hour drive during our recent trip, and it safely directed me through some of the most extreme and difficult traffic situations in places like Washington DC and New York City. It performs as well or better than many of the most expensive GPS navigational systems out there – and best of all, it’s free!

Have you ever used Google Maps Navigation? What do you think about it? Would you suggest any improvements? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Ads by Google

28 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Flavio

The only disadvantage of Google Navigation when compared for instance with Nokia’s OVI Maps, is that the maps are not stored on the phone’s memory (or microSD) but it’s necessary to have an active data connection. As consequence it is more expensive (many data plans have limits), it consumes the battery a lot more, and it is subject to signal coverage (image being in a rural area with no available 3G/GPRS signal and having the map completely blank as it can’t load).

Aibek

thanks for heads up

DoomSwitch

Not True, ignore this guy.. There are many cases where I have pulled the directions and then put my phone in airplane mode to conserve battery. Data plans “unlimited” limits are in the GB range the average 100 KB worth of data for the initial directions is nothing. Also, considering you are in your car you might have something called a car charger, even though I have used this for an hour and a half long bicycling trip while only using 15% of my battery with the screen constantly on. Some people need to get their facts straight. Google Maps/Navigation does load the directions/map into memory and it doesn’t care if you lose your connection, you’ll just lose street names that aren’t on the beaten path in that case. Some People…

Flavio

If I said something wrong you can just correct me, nobody’s perfect and we can all make mistakes. But calling names and saying to ignore others is rude and unpolite.
And that may be true if you use data in your own country. But when you travel and have to pay data by the KB in roaming price, that is a fortune also to simply calculate directions. It would be better to store maps on the mass memory or microSD than requiring an online connection.

TheDane

Have to agree with Flavio… The advantage of Google maps is that you know you will have a map covering the area you are in almost worldwide – and it will update itself at the same rate google updates the underlying maps.

However, to use it for searching for an address you NEED an internet connection either via WiFi or over the air from your provider (with or without a dataplan). If you use the maps with Satellite view enabled it will cost an amount of data – but once you start navigating the view switches to a map view designed to conserve data transfer. Google maps does not download maps to your device but does use a (small) cache to store some of the route.

Basically there a two ways to pay for navigation:

A: You either pay for datatransfer as you use the system (like Google Maps)
B: You purchase maps/navigation in advance and do not need data transfer (Phones or dedicated GPS units) – but do need to regularly purchase updated maps.

If A or B is the better option for you depends on cost of data/dataplan where you need navigation, cost of purchasing Navigation/maps and amount of use…

Light/occasional users should most likely go for option A while heavy users or users travelling and using Navigation should most likely go for option B
The avang

Ryan Dube

Hey Flavio – you are correct as to the need for a data plan, but that also means your maps are always automatically updated. So long as you have an unlimited plan you’re fine. I also find that I never really have the need to use Navigation unless I’m sitting in the car where there’s a convenient cigarette plug, so the battery drain isn’t really an issue.

Flavio

I currently use OVI Maps on a Nokia phone, and can update my maps everytime there’s a new version, both over-the-air or via the PC; so the update is not an issue.

The dataplan can be ok within the country you live in, but what do you do when you travel? I have a data plan, next week I am traveling and it may be usseful to use the navigation software; data in roaming within the EU cost me 0.9 cents/KB… according to the guy below who said 100KB are enough to calculate directions, it would cost me 9 Euro! Thanks, I’d better call a taxi!

GPS tracking

That’s why I do not like Google Maps, each time you launch it, it needs to use mobile internet and soon my battery goes dead, I wanna store the maps on my memory!!!

Reply

Aviler, ElementalDragon

It has a few quirks. I used it for a trip out of town about a month or so back, and it tried to send me in an unnecessary loop. Fortunately, it was in my home area, so I knew what directions I could ignore. However, I plan on reviewing any routes it picks before I use them in order to weed out such unneeded travel.

Reply

Jim Hubbard

Google best be careful with that logo. I’d be shocked if Paramount didn’t sue them for using the Star Trek insignia without permission.

Reply

Peter Pottinger

Star Trek Insignia? Its a blue arrow …

Reply

Flavio

If I said something wrong you can just correct me, nobody’s perfect and we can all make mistakes. But calling names and saying to ignore others is rude and unpolite.
And that may be true if you use data in your own country. But when you travel and have to pay data by the KB in roaming price, that is a fortune also to simply calculate directions. It would be better to store maps on the mass memory or microSD than requiring an online connection.

Reply

Flavio

I currently use OVI Maps on a Nokia phone, and can update my maps everytime there’s a new version, both over-the-air or via the PC; so the update is not an issue.

The dataplan can be ok within the country you live in, but what do you do when you travel? I have a data plan, next week I am traveling and it may be usseful to use the navigation software; data in roaming within the EU cost me 0.9 cents/KB… according to the guy below who said 100KB are enough to calculate directions, it would cost me 9 Euro! Thanks, I’d better call a taxi!

Reply

Munkypint

I have made the test, you can’t load the maps ahead of time per-say, but you can if you wish plan your way via WiFi and once loaded you do not need anymore data unless you need to change routes. I ve turned off all data connection and it worked fine. IOn fact it even saves a distance around the rout, so was able to figure out a re-rout by just looking on the map.

Reply

Jj

Yes but then what if you decide you had to go somewhere else or had to change route due to heavy traffic/road block etc – then the data charges kick in. Not all of us can afford the excessive data charges in the USA or the roaming charges when traveling in other countries.

I would be happy if the US had data plans like the UK – no contract – $7.5 a month for a GB. No minimum spend. In the US you can get say 100mb for $20! on a pay as you go plan.

You might as well get a dediccated GPS unit or use nokia ovi maps or similar rather than this.

Reply

Jj

Yes but then what if you decide you had to go somewhere else or had to change route due to heavy traffic/road block etc – then the data charges kick in. Not all of us can afford the excessive data charges in the USA or the roaming charges when traveling in other countries.

I would be happy if the US had data plans like the UK – no contract – $7.5 a month for a GB. No minimum spend. In the US you can get say 100mb for $20! on a pay as you go plan.

You might as well get a dediccated GPS unit or use nokia ovi maps or similar rather than this.

Reply

TheDane

Have to agree with Flavio… The advantage of Google maps is that you know you will have a map covering the area you are in almost worldwide – and it will update itself at the same rate google updates the underlying maps.

However, to use it for searching for an address you NEED an internet connection either via WiFi or over the air from your provider (with or without a dataplan). If you use the maps with Satellite view enabled it will cost an amount of data – but once you start navigating the view switches to a map view designed to conserve data transfer. Google maps does not download maps to your device but does use a (small) cache to store some of the route.

Basically there a two ways to pay for navigation:

A: You either pay for datatransfer as you use the system (like Google Maps)
B: You purchase maps/navigation in advance and do not need data transfer (Phones or dedicated GPS units) – but do need to regularly purchase updated maps.

If A or B is the better option for you depends on cost of data/dataplan where you need navigation, cost of purchasing Navigation/maps and amount of use…

Light/occasional users should most likely go for option A while heavy users or users travelling and using Navigation should most likely go for option B
The avang

Reply

Don3883

I see no way to EDIT the route suggested by Google Navigation on my Android EVO phone. It suggested that I drive thru Iowa on a recent trip…when I usually take the Wisconsin route….I haven’t found a way to say “make sure you go thru this city”. I see only a starting point and a destination….not multiple destination points along the way. Makes GN pretty worthless.

Ryan Dube

Don – true, it’s difficult to change the route. I found that if I know a better route, I simply go off course for a bit. GMaps Navigation automatically re-routes given your new path, but as far as I know that’s the only way to “force” it to change the route to the one that you want!

Munkypint

My heads up, if you know the route you don’t need a GPS device to help you find it. But true you can t plan a via place x option which could be quite nice

Reply

Srk2040

Well I have 4 different GPS application on my Jailbroken Iphone 3G with maps already loaded on each apps. Just tell you, Android sucks big time.

Ryan Dube

Srk2040…wow, you have to jailbreak the phone to run GPS apps? That’s too bad. I just download from the Android Market, click “install” and I’m done. Then, while I’m using Gmaps Navigation, I then fire off a new process to check email, and then happily switch back and forth between those two tasks at will. I love my Droid. :)

Reply

Y2kflhr

I am trying to get maps from google “my maps” into the android navigation and see no way to do that, it would be a great improvement

Reply

Capt Asokan

Would appreciate if 1) head up display is vailable in place of north up 2)In routing, the blue path along the allready travelled road should be hidden

Reply

Car DVD GPS

I’d like to see Google give users the option to download a static, simple map of the entire country for failover when there’s no data coverage. Users can manually update this static map to keep data costs down. But even though this map will be outdated and light on features, it can still guide drivers when there’s no data coverage.

Reply

Car DVD GPS

I’d like to see Google give users the option to download a static, simple map of the entire country for failover when there’s no data coverage. Users can manually update this static map to keep data costs down. But even though this map will be outdated and light on features, it can still guide drivers when there’s no data coverage.

Reply

Nmalik_2000

Does anyone know how to get the same turn by turn navigation on walking directions as you do on driving navigation? When I’m walking, its difficult to know whether you are walking in the correct direction.

Reply

mjp

anyone worked out how to navigate a route loaded in google maps through my maps? I can only seem to get a map directed from scratch, wheras what I want to be able to do is get turn by turn instructions on a route that I loaded in MyMaps. any ideas anyone?

Your comment