Are portable GPS navigation units dead? Some critics claim that smartphones have overtaken the market for GPS in cars. But stand-alone GPS products still plot the course in a constantly changing world of smartphone technology. Their form and function give them dedicated and dependable routing ability often not found in other applications.
Ease of Use
While smartphones can run a variety of applications, each running program drains the battery power of the phone. After an hour or so, the phone dies and the user has to stop to plug it in to recharge. During this time a driver could lose the directions on the phone. In contrast, a GPS unit runs only the preprogrammed navigation software. This allows for more battery life and faster charging time. GPS units can mount to the dashboard, thereby allowing a clearer and more focused view of the road.
Additionally, individual phone apps may give different directions and remove crucial details of a trip, such as road names and complete scaled maps. A good GPS unit maintains a consistent display of map features and includes full details for the whole route. So while your phone program may get you to the nearest drugstore, it may not fare so well with providing complete information on a long family road trip to another state. Thus, GPS offers a more comprehensive view of the trip.
A central advantage of car navigation GPS units is their dedicated programming. Smartphones still remain in active call mode throughout a trip, so a call can happen at any time. This disrupts the spoken turn-by-turn directions. You have to take your eyes off the wheel in order to see who is calling. Then you have to stop to switch the phone from the navigation app to the phone mode and find a place to put it. During this time, you can not hear the instructions from the app, so you could miss an important turn, and the app might stop rerouting and plot a different course that will lead somewhere other than the destination. Handheld GPS units allow for uninterrupted use and display only the information the user wants. If she needs to find a restaurant, she can search for it without apps running in the background or alerts popping up to signal an incoming call. For people who worry about missing important calls while driving, newer car GPS models can integrate with Bluetooth and allow for prioritized management of calls and navigation, thus saving time and providing security for the driver.
A dedicated device for navigation also makes the process of finding directions easier. A GPS unit runs by itself, so there is no clicking buttons to keep an app active or update the route. The dependable GPS will do it for you and still show the navigation route on screen on the dashboard. Some new GPS models point out common landmarks along the route in order to orient the user to the environment. Users can then hide or show useful businesses and landmarks along the route. GPS units can even indicate which lane to merge into in order to take the appropriate exit.
A large advantage of GPS units over smartphone navigation is the ability to guide the user throughout an entire trip. While many cell phones depend on wireless reception from towers, auto GPS units use a direct satellite connection that allows them to display maps and give directions at almost any time. As anyone who has been lost on the backroads knows, without a cell phone system it is hard to find your way around. Cell phone-based navigation apps cut out when a wireless signal is lost and do not start up again until a signal that is strong enough appears. GPS units receive constant satellite signals that are more reliable than wireless towers. The preprogrammed maps maintain a course regardless of phone reception. This allows for more dependable routes and navigation in any environment.
Finally, GPS pays for itself over time. The purchase of one GPS unit can save money. A good quality GPS can last for several years as opposed to a monthly subscription-based car service or cheap or free smartphone apps that could be discontinued or changed at any time.
Although the automotive navigation GPS unit is surrounded by new smartphone apps, it remains strong and sound. The systems continually adapt to changes in technology. Some units now answer voice commands in normal human patterns of speech that include turn-by-turn directions according to locations and buildings along the route. Almost all new systems update maps every month. Many GPS navigation units with receiver antennas even include continuous monitoring of traffic conditions in large cities.
Staying the Course
The GPS market is not dead after all. GPS navigation units continue to guide users through the dependability and accuracy of their systems that ensure their continued existence.