Best GPS App: Google Maps
Where Was The Best GPS App When I Started Driving?
I remember clearly the early days of my driving career. They consisted mainly of missed turns, second chance exits and wrong way streets. That’s right, no best GPS app, let alone Google Maps, to speak of. Back in 2004, pre-Millennial innovation Mapquest routes printed in Dad’s home office on 8.5 x 11 inch paper, were just a lowly step up from the historic Boomer Maps and Atlases of years past. When I first began exploring Cleveland, Ohio – complex maze of post-industrial roadways – from the driver’s seat of my blue Chrysler LeBaron convertible, Mapquest printouts were all we had to go by, and GPS Navigation with Google Maps was still far from being a thing.
Our doting, hand-holding helicopter parents had not adequately prepared us for this life of mobile independence. We had grown accustomed to their ever-present guidance and repeated reminders. “Turn right in 1 mile,” “pay attention, just 500 feet left until your turn,” and last chance “okay, here it is, turn right now” callouts often followed by “damnit, you didn’t get it the first three times, here’s how to fix this” directions, were things we depended on. Without them, we were lost. Sometimes lost in places we would rather avoid, such as Chicago’s back alleys behind the wheel of a white Infiniti with your 100 pound best friend in tow. Mapquest days were an ugly, dangerous time. Full of bewilderment and calls to dad asking to be found on the oversized map of Cleveland hanging in the garage, so that you could try, yet again, to look for the big red gas station on the corner next to the old church across from the Police station, and find your final destination.
Having battled this problem themselves, earlier Millenials we’re already on their way to solving the navigation needs of my generation. Then, three excruciating years after first sitting alone in the driver’s seat, without anyone telling me what to do, I bore witness to Apple’s historic launch of iPhone 1. Luckily, just prior to its release, Steve Jobs, in a last minute stroke of genius, made a call to include a navigation app. Upon his request, it took two Apple engineers just three weeks to create the original Google-powered maps.app.
True and tried turn by turn directions from the world’s most trusted search engine have since been easily accessible on almost any device and available for all levels of hand holding wherever your network can reach you. I personally will forever remember the day I first experienced my blue pin moving across a Florida beach at sunset. It marked the beginning of what has evolved into a long, fortuitous, and highly dependent relationship between myself and navigator: the woman behind the map. I call her Siri.
Unlike my mother, Siri never yells when I miss a turn following three reminders. She gently re-routes without complaint until I get it right, even if it takes 7 intersections. Siri gets me, and together we’ve experienced more breathtaking roads, incredible vistas, star lit nights, and wild animal crossings than I can count.
Whether you’re traveling by foot, using public transit, or driving your girlfriend’s car, the best GPS App (i.e. Google Maps) will take you where you need to go, with ample reminders along the way and re-routing capabilities when you miss them.
Google Maps does not stop at mere navigation, however. In fact, some say that Maps is limited only by the imagination. Explore the furthest corners of the world, save maps, pre-plan itineraries, access routes across devices, share with friends, embed in webpages, and find your own uses for this most versatile of GPS apps.
If you parked a friend’s car on a one way side street in Brooklyn, New York, for instance. Tell them where it is, by locating yourself using the “you are here” feature, holding your finger down, dropping a pin, and sharing it via text message. In turn, your friend will click the pin link, find the car on the map and pull directions from their location.
On the other hand, maybe you’re wondering what Big Sky Montana looks like before you commit to skiing it. Satisfy your thirst for knowledge using Google Maps’ satellite or terrain views, and even navigate directly to Google Earth for a closer look.
Yes, go ahead, view all the geological features you fancy, and then, when you’re ready, drive to them with Siri, because you too can have a female navigator who is always pleasant and never talks back. She’s just a few finger clicks away, waiting for your next adventure.
Do you have a favorite GPS App?
Does Google Maps top your charts for the best GPS app or is there another piece of genius out there that we need to know about? Were you navigating before GPS apps? How did you do it?