Monday, November 21, 2011

Navigation Foibles

I love the GPS Navigation system in my car. It's a rather expensive option, the value of which remains somewhat debatable, but on the positive side, it has a large and bright display placed at the proper distance for ease of focusing, is fully integrated into the audio and phone system, and arguably has improved safety, saved me eyestrain (compared to my iPhone's screen), time and gasoline.

Having said all that, there are some system foibles that I find maddening. On the minus side, unlike software for the iPhone, these OEM systems are not designed to be upgradable (apart from map updates).

One feature I find amazingly irritating is that it seems to have no rhyme or reason when it comes to displaying upcoming streets. For example, here it display the names of the upcoming cross streets both minor and major (thick blue line) perfectly.

The photo clearly shows I'm on N Alvernon Way, cross street is E Fairmount St and I'm coming up on E Bellevue St and E Speedway Blvd. It even (helpfully) displays the blue-lined cross street (E Speedway Blvd) twice, once on either side of the intersection!

Yet, somewhat mysteriously, sometimes it stubbornly refuses to reveal the name of a major (blue-lined) cross street, never mind the minor ones.

Here, I'm on E Grant Rd at the same map magnification level (700ft) as before. However, no clue about the identity of the major cross road is given. You'd think that'll be more important information than those parallel distant streets like E Lee St. Go figure.

The worst part of this of quirk is that I know it will have this annoying quirk for the rest of the lifetime of the car. I have emailed the manufacturer about it. However, despite the fact that this particular navigation system is connected, i.e. has a cellular interface (e.g. they can push destinations to you, or you can push e-destinations from the iPhone or computer to the car), they don't push out updates to application software like computer companies.

Update: I did get an email response almost immediately (10 minutes!) from a real person at the manufacturer, see below. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

We appreciate your loyalty to our brand, and thank you for providing us with your comments about the navigation system in your vehicle, and the cross-street display function. We apologize this feature has not met your expectations. We design our vehicles with our customer ownership experience in mind and it is through correspondence such as yours that we are able to continually improve our products. We appreciate the time you have taken to share your thoughts and to provide us with your view. Please be assured that your feedback has been documented at our National Headquarters for future model design consideration.

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