I've been a GPS user since I got my first Garmin PDA back in 2003. I love GPS devices and there about 5 of them in my family. So, when I got my Droid in November and now have an Incredible I was thrilled to see that Google included GPS in with the maps. The fact that it's a free app made that much better. Unfortunately, for those of used to good, and sometimes high end, GPS devices the free app on the Incredible is incomplete. I'm hoping over time that it will improve and be competitive with the standalone Garmin units but it's hard to believe that a lot of money will be spent on a free app when "good enough" will do.
Here are my likes and dislikes with regard to the free Google GPS app. I just returned from a trip to a location 400 miles from home and had the Garmin competing against the Incredible side by side.
- Screen size. You wouldn't think there'd be much difference between a Droid and a Garmin. But it really does make a difference.
- Destination arrival time guesstimate. One of the things that makes GPS's cool is they guess at the arrival time. Garmin is good at this, very good. In my 400 mile trip the Droid expected me to arrive 45 minutes later than the Garmin. We've drive this route many times and the knew the Droid was wrong. And it was. Garmin was accurate within 5 minutes. The Droid immediately lost credibility with my wife as she scoffed at the Droid from the beginning of the trip.
- Voice instructions. My God, the Droid's voice is horrible, just horrible. Sounds like a manic robot. The Garmin wins this one hands down as I can choose about 40 different voices with many languages. My wife likes the Aussie male voice.
- Route selection. At one point in our trip we wanted to find an Outback Steak house. Droid found one quickly and told us it was 5.1 miles away. The route it created took us almost 20 miles. It took a "U" shaped route when a straight line would do. It wanted to take us via freeway all the way instead of a shorter surface street route.
- Arrival time. EVERY GPS worth its salt shows you the arrival time in the corner of the display. For some odd reason the Droid shows the amount of remaining time to get there. This causes me to do the mental math to figure out when I'll arrive. There seems to be no method of telling the Droid I want to see arrival time and not amount of time left. This smacks of a programmer that never used a GPS.
- Settings. I seem to be able to tell the Droid to avoid toll roads and avoid freeways. But I want to tell it other things, like avoid traffic (or not to avoid traffic) or to prefer freeways. There aren't many settings on the Droid.
- Commonly used buttons. I want a HOME button that routes me home. Every GPS has that.
- Button sensitivity. The buttons on the bottom of the Droid, you know the menu, home, back, etc., create problems. You only have to accidentally bump those buttons while adjusting the angle of the device and you're out of GPS and back to a menu or some other app. Trying to get back to the map while driving can be dangerous. They need to fix this.
- Layers. Layers are very cool. The satellite layer is a lot of fun. Well, it's fun when I'm the passenger. For the driver it's pretty annoying and makes it hard to read the map.
- Integration into one device. It's nice to have just one device to carry around.
- The maps are accurate! My Garmin maps get out of date pretty quick. The Droid never has this issue.
- Integration with apps. Go into Yelp or Urbanspoon, find a place to eat, press on the address and poof! your on your way. What's more, press on the restaurant's phone number and you're calling for reservations. Very cool.
- The street view at the end of a route is also very cool. Turn on "Compass Mode" and it's dazzling.