Watch out, pothole ahead

GPS systems of old landed me in lots of diverse spots, but seldom did they take me where I wanted to go.

Navigation has come a long way since that rant. Thanks to progress in satellite, Bluetooth, and additional technology–stuff I use, but don’t understand–our devices are pointing us in the right direction.

No longer do we have to plug in the outdated Garmin. We’ve got all kinds of navigation apps available with a quick press of a button on our phones. We buy cars with built-in GPS.

George Jetson is proud of us. I’m sure of it.

Of the choices, Google Maps and Waze appear to be a step ahead of all the competitors. It’s interesting to note that Google bought Waze for $1.3 billion back in 2013.

That being said, I give Waze the edge over Google Maps, which is why I use it—a lot.

I also have built-in navigation in my car, but keeping it updated is an extra cost that was not disclosed when I purchased the vehicle. If you are car shopping and considering spending the extra cash for a model that comes with GPS, ask the questions I didn’t think to ask.

But I digress.

Waze is more like a friend who travels with me rather than a computerized app. I take her with me even when I know how to get where I’m going.

Waze allows the driver to change the voice that gives directions. The one I use is identified by the name “Jane,” but I just call her Waze.

There’s a new option that allows me to record my own voice to hear back for directions. That would be a “no.” I talk to myself enough as it is.

Waze reroutes me whenever possible any time she sees that I’m headed toward a traffic jam. Lately, when I travel back from visiting my children, she doesn’t tell me to pick up I-77 where I normally do—near Columbia, SC.

Instead, she takes me beyond that exit, off another, and leads me down an unfamiliar, local four-lane road. 

The first time she did this, I did not fully trust her. At some point, though, I found myself parallel with my standard route—cars lined up for miles due to construction.

It’s a shame she hasn’t found a way to circumvent Charlotte.

Waze is quiet, but pipes up with lots of helpful advice at just the right time. I’ve become accustomed to hearing her say things like, “Car stopped on shoulder ahead” and “Police spotted ahead.”

In the past month, she’s added a couple of new warnings. When she said, “Watch out. Pothole ahead,” I nearly pulled to the side of the road to recover from laughter.

On my way to Asheville, NC, she one-upped her pothole warning with, “Roadkill spotted ahead.” 

I’m not kidding, nor was she.

The only downside to Waze is that I’ve forgotten how to read a map.

Google Maps plans to give Waze some competition, though I’m not certain one can call it that since they are owned by the same company. 

Maps will launch a new version in late summer that focuses not just on navigation, but also on exploration. It will add a “For You” tab that will let me (and you) follow certain cities and neighborhoods including places I’m planning to visit.

It will keep track of trending restaurants and must-see places. A group planning feature will allow the user to create a list of suggested things to do and/or spots to eat and share it with friends.

I look forward to seeing how the new Google Maps works, but If it doesn’t warn me of “road kill ahead,” it has a “waze” to go.

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