Navigation 2.0: The Missing Features
I recently found myself driving a car in an unfamiliar city relying heavily on Google Navigation on my phone to get me from point A to point B (and back to point A again). From this two week experience I found some things in the Navigation experience I'd really love to have. Maybe other Navigation apps have this and I've just been googleblind.
Not Looking At The PhoneMost of the time I'm driving, I'm relying on Navigation to tell me what's going on. You're probably the same. Some simple options would make me a lot more comfortable. These also apply to when I'm on a motorbike and my phone is locked away in a pocket.
- Don't tell me compass directions: If I'm in a new city, in a new area telling me "Head East" is useless. Especially at night where I can't use the Sun to figure out which way East is.
- Give me a hint which lane I should eventually be in, "Travel three kilometers, eventually turning left."
- If I'm driving for thirty minutes on a highway, periodically remind me that you haven't crashed or suddenly run out of battery power. Even a little beep every 10 minutes (or % of a leg) would be nice. Maybe even tell me what % of battery is left.
- Along those lines, since Navigation knows how fast I'm going and how far I have to go, telling me "Continue for about 15 minutes." is more handy than "continue for 23 kilometers".
- On navigation start, tell me something useful; even "Route calculated" or "Estimated twenty minutes of travel time."
- If I'll have less than 10% battery life by the calculated arrival time, tell me this up front and give me the option to just read the list without actual navigation.
- It may annoy you, but I like to know when Navigation has changed its mind about where we're going. Telling me that a route has been recalculated is re-assuring.
Tell Me LessThere are some things where being quieter makes more sense:
- Cut me some slack in a parking lot. Unless you're going to tell me exactly how to get out of the parking lot, keep quiet until I'm close to an exit. Calculate some routes of the closest few exits and get ready to tell me "Turn left here." or "Turn right here.". Telling me to "Head North to 11th Ave South West going to 23rd Street East going East." is just distracting while I'm trying to navigate the maze of grocery carts and SUVs.
- Some cities have Main St. North, West, East, South or North East / North West / etc. If I'm on "Main St North West" turning onto "1st Street North West", don't say "Northwest" both times. In fact, unless I'm close to a boundary where it's important to know which cardinal direction of the street I'm on, simply saying "Turn left onto First Street." is fine.
Nicer TouchesAnd there are a few nice things I bet wouldn't be too hard.
- Traffic Lights. I'm sure most cities have a database of which intersections have traffic lights. Telling me "At the lights, turn left onto Third street." trumps "In six hundred and fifty meters turn left onto Third street.".
- Let me mark certain areas as "well known" areas and silence turn by turn directions if my destination is in that area unless I ask for them to be re-enabled.
- All major highways in Canada have numbered exits. They're numbered based on kilometer distance. If I'm at exit 35, and I'm going to exit 25, I know there's ten kilometers to go. When I get on a highway, let me know the exit number I'm going to be exiting on.
- If I'm going to a destination that has a Google Place (or whatever they're called now), and it seems that they'll be closed or closing within an hour of the calculated arrival, give me an option to call the place.
- Let me tell Navigation how comfortable I am with a given city or area. If I don't know it very well, give me notifications earlier and take me on possibly longer but easier to navigate routes.