Trying out Google Maps Navigation feature on my HTC Desire

by Priya Chandra

So I read yesterday that Google Maps Navigation feature is now available in Australia for Android users and of course I had to try it out as soon as possible.

Sadly, living in a small city (and having a pretty set routine) means that I know how to get most  places and barely even look at a map let alone need a full turn by turn navigation solution.

Then tonight I got to go to a completely different part of the city for dinner with a friend which meant I could use the Maps Navigation feature to get me back home – yay!

It is a really cool piece of kit I have to say – I typed in my home address, turned on the GPS and we were off. I did try the voice command option but sadly that doesn’t seem to be calibrated for my particular accent (much like most automated telephone systems) and the result was pretty funny to say the least.

The computer generated voice does get a bit annoying and if I had a passenger in the car I’d certainly choose to mute the voice and have the passenger do the navigating using the directions. However as the only person in the car it was handy to have someone/something reading out the directions and they really are turn by turn.

Each street that I needed to turn into was named, and reminders given as I approached them to ensure I turned into the right street or exited the roundabout at the correct point. The GPS kept up briliantly, no lag at all and overall the trip was nice and easy.

Some of the additional features of Maps Navigation include:

  • Satellite and Street View. My house was obviously shot before the lawn was laid which is nice as it is now more like a small jungle than lawn – at least it looks nice on Street View!
  • Search. You don’t need to know the exact address of where you want to go – you can instead use Google’s search capabiliies to find for example “Sydney airport” instead of typing an exact address. Or type the name of a contact and Google will use their address as your destination.
  • Favourite destinations. Self-explanatory really
  • Alternate routes. You can see alternative routes to your destination on a map along with distance and time so you can pick the one that suits you better.
  • Traffic information. This apparently provides information on traffic in your area. Sadly it isn’t available for my city but I live in hope!
  • Sync with starred places from This has to be one of my favourite tricks. Locate your destination on on your computer and star it. Then sync your phone and under Maps Navigation, select starred places. Hey presto, there’s your destination. Nice.

Overall I have to say I’m highly impressed with this piece of kit, and it is all free – so cool. I’d gladly pay though if it meant replacing the default comptuer generated voice with a more natural sounding voice.





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