Google Maps Satellite Navigation Review

The Best and Worst Sat-Nav Tool on Earth (IMHO)

Google Maps NavigationGoogle Maps with its Satellite Navigation function can be both excellent and terrible (from my own experience of using it) as an alternative to using a regular Sat-Nav device. Here is a summary of the pros and cons of the app in comparison to a standalone budget Sat-Nav. Read on below the table for more details on the pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Easier address entry method

Bad 3G coverage affects the app’s functionality

Search for businesses by name

You are not always led to the actual entrance of the premises

Works well in industrial estates

Location markers are sometimes in completely wrong locations

It’s on your phone, so you have access to it all the time

Addresses are not properly structured at times. It’s very random

It’s free

App is often not aware of “no right turn” signs etc

Best route is not always suggested

Glitches, errors and malfunctions

Uses a lot of battery power

Uses data, so could cost you money to use

Mispronounced street names

Easier address entry method

Entering addresses is faster & more user friendly than on budget Sat-Navs I have used. You can start by entering the street address, and you will be presented with a list of options. With Sat-Navs you generally have to start by entering the country, then the city, and then the street address, which is tedious.

Search for businesses by name

You can search for businesses by name rather than address. Many business are listed and when this is the case and the locations are accurate, it is really handy.

Works well in industrial estates

Even if the business is not listed you can search by the unit number. Budget Sat-Navs I’ve used are not good for industrial estates because of the way you search for addresses.

It’s on your phone, so you have access to it all the time

It’s on your phone, so you don’t need a separate device. This also means you can use it any time, e.g. if you get lost on foot. You’ll always have your phone with you. You’re unlikely to have your Sat-Nav with you when you’re out for the night, for example

It’s free

It is free, to be fair, so you can’t really complain that much. If you don’t find it is good enough, you always have the option of buying a top-end Sat-Nav that may perform better

Bad 3G coverage affects the app’s functionality

Google Maps uses 3G Data to find the location, but switches to GPS Satellites to Navigate. If you are in an area with bad coverage for data the app it will at least take several minutes to find the location before you can even start navigating. It may even be the case that there is no data coverage, which means you can end up stranded in the back of beyond, and have to drive aimlessly until you find an area with data coverage.

You are not always led to the actual entrance of the premises

Sometimes you can be left at location near the building, but the entrance might be on another street. I’ve experienced situations where I can see the building but its behind a wall, and I have to drive around the block to find the actual entrance into the premises.

Location markers are sometimes in completely wrong locations

Sometimes the markers are wrong so you can end up at a completely incorrect address, miles away in some cases. Several times I have been directed to a random address in a housing estate instead of the correct address of the business.

Addresses are not properly structured at times. It’s very random

Google Maps is not that well adapted to Dublin addresses. When you enter a street address it sometimes gives you a good idea of the area of Dublin, and sometimes just says “Dublin”, e.g. if you search for New Nangor Read, the dropdown will suggest New Nangor Road, Dublin. If it said New Nangor Road, Clondalkin you could be sure it was the correct New Nangor Road before clicking on it. In other cases it will be more specific, but it seems to be random rather than having a system in place. I think that Ireland needs to get out address system overhauled and better organised, at least in all the cities, like most other European cities already have, with proper post codes, which helps Sat-Navs to function far more precisely. Apparently, this is in the pipeline, but who knows when it will actually be implemented.

App is often not aware of “no right turn” signs etc

Google Maps is not always aware of streets that you cannot turn onto. Most Sat-Navs do know where there are “no right turn” signs and the like. It has also on occasion suggested I drive up a one-way street.

Best route is not always suggested

Sometimes Google Maps can send you all around the world to get from one point to another, e.g. if you are pointing in the wrong direction, instead of just suggesting you make a U-Turn. It’s always a good idea to look at the entire route that’s being suggested before hitting “navigate”, to make sure the route being suggested looks like it’s the most logical route.

Glitches, errors and malfunctions

The app has a mind of its own at times. Once, the app switched from traffic view to aerial view mid journey all by itself. I didn’t even touch the screen. And to top that, it would not switch back to traffic view. Then one day it randomly switched back to traffic view, again, all by itself… and then a few weeks later it again switched to aerial view and will not change back to this day. It also regularly malfunctions and forces you to close it, which is obviously quite inconvenient if you are on a motorway and can’t stop to reset your route.

Uses a lot of battery power

Depending on your phone, using the navigation function can deplete most of your battery in a short space of time, like 15 minutes. This is counter-productive if you are trying to find a place when, for example, you are meeting friends somewhere, and then you end up being out of battery so you can’t call them if you still need further instructions as to where they are. Of course, this is not an the fault of the app, but of the battery life of most phones. However, it is a reason not to use the app and to consider an alternative method of navigation.

Uses data, so could cost you money to use

If you have unlimited data, this is not an issue*. But if you don’t, be careful or it could cost you a lot of money, especially if you are abroad. *Note that unlimited data would tend not to cover roaming data charges.

Mispronounced street names

The mispronunciation of place-names is more comical than inconvenient. I’m not talking about Irish language place names. I’m not even talking about place-names that you need to be told how to pronounce, like “Tallaght” and “Dun Laoghaire”. I’m talking about simple place-names with simple English words. It’s actually quite funny how it gets the simplest of words wrong. Here are some examples of place-names and how Google Maps Navigation pronounces them phonetically:

Placename

How Google Nav Pronounces It

Fonthill Road

Phonetill Road

Kylemore Road

Killamore Road

Robinhood Road

Roe Binehood Road

Citywest

Sitewist

Pearse Street

Purse Street

Ballyfermot

Bal Eefer Mot

Castleknock

Cast Lee Nock

Beta Version

It should be noted that Google Maps Navigation is still in Beta, which means it is unfinished, and is being tested through practical use by you and me. It is expected that programs in Beta are not yet perfect. Hopefully they can iron out the issues and make a great app.

Get onto Google Maps

I really think that every business in the country should make sure they have a verified listing on Google Maps, and make sure the location marker is correct. It would make it so much easier for people to find their business, which is obviously important for new customers, as well as for courier, postal staff and anyone else who is trying to find their business for the first time.

It can also help to provide you with an alternative way to appear on page one of the search results, displaying a link to your website, your Google Plus page and your Google Maps location, all in one tidy listing.

If you’re unsure how of how to get their business listed on Google Maps, please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to help.

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