First a little background: colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes (@the_pc_doc) and I (@jkendrick) were playing on Twitter and got into a little conversation about our preferred navigation method. This conversation was a result of Dwight Silverman's (@dsilverman) account of his summer vacation where he mentioned using his smartphone for handling his family's road trip navigation duties. Adrian indicated he likes using a dedicated personal navigation device (PND) in his car, and he is sharing why he prefers it on Hardware 2.0. Hopefully if you are on the fence about the PND versus the smartphone, between Adrian's article and this one you'll be able to hit the open road with your chosen device and get where you need to be without incident.
Smartphone as navigation device
Most smartphones have full GPS capability onboard, so navigation is a natural use for that. All that is needed to get going is an app that handles the mapping and navigation. There are many options for all smartphone platforms, and my preferred app for navigation is available on both iOS and Android. I have an Android smartphone, and while it has the free Google Maps navigation app installed, I prefer the Telenav app. There are similarities between the two apps but I like the way Telenav handles the routing and mapping. Many folks like the Google Maps so the key is to try it and see how that works for you.
My smartphone service on Sprint includes the Telenav service free with expanded service available for an extra monthly fee. The full Android Telenav service for non-Sprint customers is $9.99 per month. Owners of iPhones on the AT&T network who use AT&T Navigator may already be using Telenav as this app is produced by Telenav.Arkon universal mount that I attach to the windshield when needed and store under the seat when I don't. This lets me put the phone at the proper height for glancing at the map onscreen, but in a non-distracting spot. I use the navigation software's spoken directions for the most part when following a programmed route, and only glance at the phone to see distance to the next turn.
Pros and cons of the smartphone navigation method
Using a smartphone for the in-car navigation is not without issues, but in my opinion they are outweighed by the benefits over a dedicated navigation device. The main arguments for and against the smartphone method:
I have been using a smartphone as a navigation device for a few years and like it so much I have never missed my old TomTom. I use it regularly in town for the live traffic reporting, complete with rerouting around accidents as needed. This has saved my bacon more times than I can count, and is reason enough to prefer this method.
How about you? Do you regularly use either a dedicated navigation device or a smartphone for trip routing? Check the appropriate box in the poll below and lets see which method readers are using regularly. If you don't use either method just indicate it in the appropriate slot.