One of the areas where I find Android head and shoulders above the iPhone is navigation, and Google's Maps app is why. I use it plenty--finding out where I am when I emerge from the subway, looking for a nearby restaurant, even showing strangers where to go when they flag me down asking for directions. All that is great new stuff I couldn't do with a phone a few years ago, but it's the navigation component that spared me a couple hundred bucks I otherwise would have spent on a sat-nav system. The navigation shows a virtual view of the road as I drive, warning me of upcoming intersections and telling me which exit I need to take off the roundabout. I use it for walking, too.
Clicking the locate-yourself button in the upper right helpfully toggles from a bird's-eye view to one showing your own orientation and perspective. The app downloads route information in advance, which is essential for trips where wireless data doesn't reach and helps cover for the major weakness of sat-nav systems with their own maps. And a new labs feature lets you download map data in advance that reaches 10 miles away from a point of interest. That's good for those of us who don't have unlimited data plans or who are traveling in foreign countries where roaming fees are exorbitant.
And props to Google for splitting this (and Maps) out of the Android OS build so that it can be updated frequently without slow-moving carriers getting in the way.
July 13, 2011 3:55 AM PDT
Photo by: Android Market
| Caption by: Stephen Shankland
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