I use it as a GPS when travelling around on my scooter, which means I don’t have a screen in front of me. Instead I’m reliant on the audio output to tell me where to go and when. I imagine for most people this sounds kind of crazy because they want to see the map and directions, but when it works it really works well. It says before the turning and then again just at the point of the turn. Pretty much once you get use to it, its just great and I find it weird sitting in peoples cars when they are not listening to the voice.
However there is a bug/problem.
I use to think it was just my Nexus 5X but its happened with my Google Pixel2 making it clear its a google maps issue.
Every once in a while, google maps stops talking and leaves you with silence. This seems to be solved with a restart, which is hardly great when driving along. I imagine most users tend to have the display and don’t care too much about the voice. But if you are reliant on it, when it suddenly goes quiet you start to wonder. Worst thing about it is Google maps doesn’t say anything when you don’t need to take a turn. Meaning if you are going down a motorway you have to assume everything is fine.
This is what happened as I drove down the M6 towards London not Bristol on Monday afternoon, wondering when the M5 turn off was coming. Now to be fair I was on the right motorway but when I came across the M6 toll road, I took it and that led me towards London.
Google maps said nothing, so I just kept going expecting something over the headset when the turning came. To make things even more difficult I had my pixel 2 phone locked in the scooter charging, meaning I couldn’t see the phone unless I pulled over and turned off the engine. Once again not ideal.
Ok this example is quite extreme (but it happened) and you could say I should have been aware but I honestly didn’t see a sign for the M5 south. Its likely I wouldn’t as I took the M6 toll road.
I know most of you are saying, so what? But I have never driven so far on my Silverwing scooter before. I use to drive between London and Bristol on the A4 when I moved to London and it use to be a very long trip (4hours). Main reason it took so long is because I was on a 125cc scooter and it was going flat out most of the journey. I couldn’t use the motorway with my L plates and 125cc bike. Such a journey I would need to nap for a hour or so straight away afterwards!
I recorded the journey using my tracks as usual but unfortunately turned it off when stopping at Aberystwyth. I also forgot to turn it on a couple times, hence some small gaps in the journey.
Here is my ride from Manchester to Liverpool to Llandidno to Llarwst to Blaenau Ffestiniog to Barmouth to Dolgellau to Machynlleth to Aberystwyth. Blaenau was impressive, I wished my camera still had enough battery because you swing around a mountain down a beautiful valley into this clearing. The clearing is a mine site with a village in the middle. Barmouth was a mistake because when looking at google maps, I thought the line across the river was a public bridge but it was actually a train bridge. I actually thought I missed it but ended up going back on myself towards Dolgellau. I did stop at Llandidno and try and go around the Great Orme (the wrong way it seems). I also tried to pay at the mersey tunnel but realised it was free for bikes.
Then I stayed at the Queensbridge hotel on the seafront where I got told I was being moving to the Four Seasons in town. Didn’t really matter because it was pretty much the same.
I should have blogged this much earlier but I attended and spoke at the UK Geospatial Mash up event at the Ordnance Survey centre in Southampton. I don't remember much now but there's some really good posts about the whole day here and here. I did however record a few of the sessions and put them on Blip.tv for everyone to enjoy.
I have to say its pretty neat and works even better than Frappr at the moment. Although I'm wondering open this data is? For example will I be able to take the geo data out of Flickr once I've arranged all my pictures so nicely on the map? And if so, how? But for right now, London is looking a little bare at the moment so go add pictures! Look out for the lack of mapping from Yahoo maps outside northern america.