A few years back, there was a story going around about a taxi driver which used a dedicated GPS navigation device and dropped off his passengers a few meters from their destination. The passenger said, thats our hotel, why don’t you take us up the driveway and drop us at the entrance? The taxi driver said, “GPS says hotel is here, and here is where I drop you.”
These and other stories about GPS gone wrong have haunted drivers since navigation systems went on sale. Nowadays, you don’t need to a dedicated car navigation system to get lost. You can do have it on your phone, without installing anything.
For some time now, smartphones have had the ability for updated maps. This is due to their builtin AGPS capabilities. AGPS stands for Assisted Global Positioning System.
Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites were launched by the United States to help them navigate anywhere in the world. This was very useful for military uses, which was the primary or target market for GPS. Until recently, GPS for military use
was more accurate than those for civilian use. This was deliberate on the part of the US. Car navigation devices like those manufactured by Garmin use GPS systems.
AGPS on the other hand are network based. The location is triangulated based on the location of the AGPS device in relation to network cell sites. These cell sites in turn read the position of the device with the help of data from GPS satellites. One advantage of this method is that there is no need for a dedicated GPS chip on the phone. The phone in turn could have GPS capabilities at a lower cost than navigation devices.
Another advantage is that phones can receive their location data even through bad weather. GPS systems since they receive information about their location from satellites orbiting the Earth are dependent on the weather to receive accurate data. Even
in bad weather, cell sites can determine the approximate location of a phone by determining the phoneÃ¢€â„¢s signal strength in relation to the nearest cell sites.
Of course, in areas where there are no cell site service, or an area your carrier does not service, you would not have any AGPS.
Map Reading Skills
Of course, even if the location is shown on the map, if the person does not know how to read the map, then he is not going to get anywhere. Most navigation apps show the cell phones movement in relation to the top of the phone. North is designated by a
compass on the screen. In this way, the person would know whether to turn left or right at an intersection.
Without this aid, it would be hard for most people to understand where they are on the map and in what direction they are going.
Using Google Maps to navigate is simple but it is not easy. Maps will tell you where you are as indicated by a dot. If the dot is large, it means that your location is still being fixed, and the large dot is your approximate location. When it finally gets a reading from nearby cell towers, you would see a dot, and it would be moving along on the map in real time.
If you know how to read a map, you should be okay with Google Maps. Another advantage of Google Maps is the landmarks placed on the map by users like yourselves. These could be important landmarks, buildings and businesses. Tourist attractions are also popular. You can even take the time to see the pictures posted on maps, and you can compare the buildings you see with the pictures on the map.
You can also do a search on Google Maps. The search result will show you a list of locations which fit your search parameters, as well as the distance from your current location. You can check the map, and zoom in to see the roads or buildings which are along the path to where you were searching.
If you were searching for a bank branch or an ATM machine, these would most probably be on the map. These are posted by the banks themselves, taking advantage of the Maps interactive ability. It also helps the bank with making their website visible on
Google search results.
With multiple locations, you can check out the nearest location for the bank or ATM, and see whether you would want to go to one branch or another in a different direction. If you have errands to run, you can use the map to plot your itinerary, including how to drive from one place to another, where to park, where to walk as well as where to take a snack.
Waze by Google
Waze is a smartphone app which helps a driver navigate from one location to another. It is based on Google Maps and was developed independently of it. The company which developed Waze was bought by Google in 2013, and since then Waze has been in use wherever Google Maps is available.
This app has been described as the best navigation app when it comes to avoiding traffic. This is a big deal if you are driving in the city, specially during rush hour. Besides telling you where to drive and giving you alternative routes, Waze also gives
an approximate time to travel. For those who are driving to a date or an appointment, this is a very helpful feature. You can always call your date in advance that you would be late by so many minutes, and quoting Waze as the source.
There are other navigation apps available for cell phones, and each have their strengths and weaknesses.