Free, Smart and User Friendly GPS Navigator on
Google Maps in Smartphones
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Abstract

This web page describes the procedure to use the "free" GPS navigator on Google Map in smartphones and
the great advantages of such smarter GPS navigator over the traditional stand alone GPS navigators.

The free Google Maps in smartphones comes with a free, smart and user friendly GPS navigator. Unlike
traditional stand alone GPS navigators where the map need to be updated periodically, there is no need to
update the map in the free Google Maps GPS navigator because the free Google Map is always up-to-date.

The capability and the intelligence of a traditional stand alone GPS navigator are limited by the computing
power and the memory size of the electronics in that small compact portable box. On the other hand, the GPS
Navigator on Google Maps in a smartphone is much more intelligent with much more capabilities because it is
communicating with the network server through 3G/4G high speed wireless network such that it has practically
instantaneous access to the massive computing power and the huge data base and huge memory size of
mainframe computers in the network server. With such powerful support from the network server, the GPS
navigator in smartphone is smarter and much easier to use as compared to the traditional stand alone GPS
navigators.

For example, in addition to the traditional way for user to find out the address and to key in the detailed street
address of the destination, the GPS Navigator on Google Maps in a smartphone can also take simple voice
commands from the user so that specifying the destination becomes much easier and faster for the user. If I
want to go to Hilton Hotel in Woodbridge, New Jersey, I do not need to find out the detailed street address of
that hotel, I just say “Hilton Hotel, Woodbridge.” The Google Maps GPS navigator in the smartphone
supported by the network can find out the detailed street address quickly and guide me to that hotel. It shifts
the heavy burden from the user to the mainframe computer in the server network of finding out the detailed
street address of the destination.

Furthermore, all the addresses of many friends, relatives, restaurants, handyman contractors, business
companies, parks, theaters, etc. on the address book in my Google e-mail account are directly accessible by
the GPS navigator on Google Map in my smartphone. This makes it much easier for the smartphone to guide
me to all these locations without the need for me to find out and to key in such street address.

We all have some experience of the terrible stress and the mental anxiety when we are stuck for hours in a
serious traffic jam on a highway. The Google Maps on smartphones has Live (real time) highway traffic
conditions, incident reports, and automatic rerouting to find the best route to avoid traffic jams. This is
especially helpful and useful to avoid or to bypass a serious traffic jam on a highway as explained in more
detail in Section 5.


1. One of the Ways to Use Google Maps GPS Navigator

The Google Maps GPS Navigator in a smartphone is very smart and can be used in many different ways. This
section  describes in detail steps of one of several ways to use this free and smart GPS navigator:

A. On the top of Google Maps screen on a smartphone, there is a search field. If you finger touch this search
field, a soft keyboard will show up in the lower half of the screen for you to enter the text of your search item,
such as the hotel or the restaurant, etc. that you want to search on the Google Maps.

B. However, on the right side of the Search Field, there is a small icon of a microphone. Finger touching this
small microphone icon will bring up a new screen with a larger microphone icon and a line of "Speak Now" on
the top indicating that the smartphone is now ready to take your Voice Input of your search item.

C. If you say slowly and clearly:

"Hilton Hotel, Woodbridge, New Jersey"

The smartphone and its GPS navigator can get the detailed and precise street address of this Hilton Hotel in
Woodbridge automatically and quickly, and show such information in the next screen with a small icon of a car.

D. If you touch this small icon of a car, the next screen will show a small routing map with the text "Start
Navigation" under the routing map.

E. If you touch the text "Start Navigation", the smartphone and Google Maps will start GPS navigation with
voice instruction and the associated navigation map to guide the user/driver to that hotel.

2. Much Easier to Use

Sometimes, the smartphone may not understand your voice input accurately or there may be multiple
destinations with the same name within certain distance from your current location. With such uncertainty, the
smartphone does not simply give up; instead it will guess three or four possibilities of what you have said and
provides the list of those four possibilities with four different addresses for you to look at and to choose the
correct one. If all four listed possibilities are all wrong, then you can say one more time. Usually it will get it
right the second time you say it. In rare case of difficulty in voice input, you always have the option to use the
soft keyboard to key in what you want.

This is very different from the traditional stand alone GPS Navigators, which are not so user friendly. The
traditional stand alone GPS navigators often reject the destination input from the user for various reasons such
as: (1) the user miss spell a word in the destination, (2) the typed name of a highway does not conform to the
very strict, strange and inconsistent format requirement (such as CR-537, or County Road 537 or Route 537
or Hwy 537, or 537, etc.). If the format of the highway you typed is different from that stored in the portable
GPS, it will be rejected and you are out of luck, (3) the destination is not in the town typed by the user, etc.
The traditional GPS navigator refuses to accept and simply rejects them in a very unfriendly way. Many users
get stuck in such dead-end situations and do not know what to do. Such unfriendliness and “dumb” manner is
one of the reasons that some people give up and do not want to use such unfriendly traditional stand alone
GPS navigator.

On the other hand, the Google Maps GPS navigator cuts out all these nonsenses, is very user friendly, is very
forgiving for user's typing errors and mistakes, can do many smart things to help users to get what users
want. For example, if user specified a wrong town for the destination, the smarter GPS navigator does not
simply reject it, but will list the destination in another neighboring town, plus several other towns in other states
or countries for the user to look at and to choose the correct one.

In Step C, the screen actually shows three icons; one is a car icon for navigating a car driver to the
destination, the second icon is a bus icon which can guide a user on how to take public transportation (bus, or
train, etc.) to go to the destination, and the third icon is a pedestrian icon to guide a user to walk to the
destination.

For example, if your destination is a store in a huge shopping center with hundreds of stores, after you park
your car in the large parking lot and get out of your car, the smart GPS navigator in Google Maps will switch
to the pedestrian mode to guide you to walk from your parking location to the correct location of the store in
such a large shopping center.

3. Speed to Search for Destination Information

Most stand-alone GPS navigators have a built-in database of about 6 million Point of Interest (POIs) for user
to choose as the destination. The Google Maps GPS navigator in smartphone with 3G/4G high-speed wireless
link to mainframe computers in the server has practically unlimited large number of POIs for users to choose.

After a user entered the name of a destination for the GPS navigator to search for destination information
such as location/address and phone number, due to the very limited computing power and very limited data
base, the traditional GPS navigators often spend a long time (e.g., 20 minutes) searching for it and then come
up with the dreadful result of "Not Found", leaving the user in the dead-end situation. On the other hand, with
support of computing power of mainframe computer and unlimited large data base, the Google Maps GPS
navigator usually can find the detailed destination information very fast (in the order of seconds) for the user.

4. Quality of Information Provided

Furthermore, when looking for a suitable motel near my current location in a sightseeing trip, the GPS
navigator in smartphone provides not only the list of nearby motels with motel names, street addresses,
distance from my current location and phone numbers, but also motel quality (star) rating rated by TripAdvisor
and or Yelp, a map showing the location of the motel and review comments on the motel by other customers.
These are important and useful information for me to make intelligent decision in choosing a suitable nearby
motel.

On a Tuesday morning in Fremont, California, I said "Go to Fremont Public Library" to my smartphone, the
smartphone responded immediately and was ready to guide my driving to Fremont Public Library. But the
smartphone also told me that when I arrived, the library would not be open because on Tuesday, the Fremont
Library is open from 1 PM to 9 PM. With such helpful information, I changed my plan and went to do
something else until afternoon, then I went to Fremont Library in the afternoon. This is just one example of
many useful new service features of "
Google Now" or more advanced "Google Assistant" to make smartphone
and its GPS Navigator smarter and more useful for the users.

Apple also provides equivalent smart service, Siri, on iPhones and Microsoft also provides equivalent smart
service, Cortana, on Microsoft smartphone.

With the support of huge amount of information in the main frame computer in the server, the GPS navigator in
the smartphone has a lot of extra information about the destination that can be very useful and helpful to the
user.

5. Traffic Jam Avoidance

The Google Maps on smartphones has Live (real time) traffic conditions, incident reports, and automatic
rerouting to find the best route to avoid traffic jams.

On February 2, 2016, we were driving on I-95 to go from New Jersey to Virginia using the traditional stand
alone GPS navigator. Soon after we went over the Delaware Memorial Bridge, there was a huge traffic Jam.
The traditional GPS navigator did show the traffic jam in that area but did not tell us what to do. At that point, I
pulled out my smartphone and turned on the Google Map GPS navigator which told me that there was
accident couple miles ahead and told me to get off I-95 at the next exit half mile ahead. So, we shifted to the
right lane and got off I-95 at that exit and followed the navigation of the Google Map GPS navigator for a few
miles on the local roads and then got back on I-95 where there were practically no cars at all probably
because all the cars were stuck in that big traffic jam a few miles behind us. So, I was very happy that the
Google Map GPS navigator had the real time traffic information and the intelligence to guide us to bypass that
big traffic jam. Otherwise, we would have stuck in that big traffic jam for a long time.

These are just some examples for the capabilities of Google Maps GPS navigator in smartphone to make the
use of GPS navigator must easier, faster and more powerful.

My sons told me that Google also provides another free GPS Navigator known as WAZE on smartphones at:

https://
play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.waze&hl=en

WAZE has even more and better real time traffic conditions on the roads and can be very useful to many
users.

6. Use Address Book - Another Way

There is an address book (i.e., Contact List) of many friends, restaurants, other business companies, etc. in
my Android based smartphone. This address book is in sync with the address book in my Google Account.
Another way to use Google Maps GPS navigator is to use the address book in my smartphone.

6A. For example, the AAA Office in Old Bridge, New Jersey is in my address book in my smartphone.  If I
want to go to this AAA Office, I open the address book in my smartphone, tap on AAA - Old Bridge,

6B. Then the name, phone number and address of this AAA Office will show up on the next screen with a
(Destination) location icon next to the street address of this AAA Office.

6C. Tap on this (Destination) location icon will trigger Google Maps GPS navigation with the location of this
AAA Office marked on the Google map as the destination. An icon of a small car also shows up in this screen.

6D. Tap on this small car icon will bring up a new screen with a routing map from my current location to this
AAA Office. There is also a blue arrow icon on this screen.

6E. Tap on this blue icon will start the Google Maps GPS navigation with voice instruction and the associated
routing map to guide me to this AAA Office.

By using the address book in the smartphone, you do not need to key in the street address of the destination
into the GPS navigator, avoiding the possible trouble of typing error and is much easier to use than the
process on the traditional stand alone GPS navigator.

If you want to go to a friend's home in your address book, you can use the similar process to set the
destination and let the Google Maps GPS navigator to guide you to the destination.

7. More Features in Google Maps GPS Navigator

Some sample video tutorials on how to use more features of Google Maps GPS Navigator on smartphones
are available at:

https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUR08cdIhTQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQdusC9-qhc

If you do an Internet Search, you can find more tutorials on how to use various other features of Google Maps
GPS navigator.

8. In Case if You Have No Wireless Internet Connectivity

The advantages of GPS Navigator on Google Maps in smartphone described above require the smartphone to
have high speed wireless (3G/4G) connectivity to Internet. But there are special cases where the user may
not have such high speed wireless connectivity to Internet such as traveling in a foreign country or in a remote
area where there is no 3G/4G wireless service coverage. Thanks to John Amoss and Ray Tai for pointing out
that it is possible to download the Google Maps for the area of interest ahead of time into the smartphone
when you are at home or at places (e.g., in a hotel) where there are Wi-Fi services. Then the smartphone can
use the stored maps offline automatically for basic GPS navigation when you are in such area. In this way, it
will work almost like the traditional stand-alone GPS navigator. You can download and store such maps for
more than one region.

In other words, if you plan to go into an area where there is no wireless/mobile phone service coverage, it is
important that you download the Google Map of that area into your smartphone while you are still at home or
in a hotel where there is WiFi service BEFORE you go into that area so that your GPS navigator in the
smartphone will work in that area.

8.1. How to Download Google Offline Map for Navigation on Google Maps

When you are at home or in a hotel with Wi-Fi service, download a Google map you need to your smartphone
by
1.        Open the Google Map app on your smartphone,
2.        The Google Map shows your current location and surrounding area
3.        If this is not the area you want to download, then do Google Search for a town, city, county or country  
that you want to download so that your desired Map is on the screen.
4.        Tap on the 3-bar icon on upper left corner to pull down the menu
5.        Tap on “offline areas,”
6.        Tap the “+” button at right lower corner.
7.        Adjust the size (area) of the map that you want
8.        Tap “Download” at the lower right corner to download the map into your smartphone.

When you are in the area with no 3G/4G wireless service coverage, Google Maps in your smartphone will
automatically switch into offline mode. When you’re back in a place with Wi-Fi or 3G/4G wireless service
coverage, Google switches back online.

8.2. More Information on GPS Navigation with Offline Map

More information on such download of offline map for GPS navigation is available in several websites such as:

https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KmQeyq0BSE

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/travel/find-your-way-without-losing-your-wallet.html?
module=Promotron&region=Body&action=click&pgtype=article

https://support.google.com/gmm/answer/6291838?hl=en

http://www.androidcentral.com/how-save-map-use-offline-google-maps

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2691196/use-google-maps-and-gps-offline-on-your-android-device.html

https://www.androidpit.com/use-your-google-maps-offline


Furthermore, the mobile map app "HERE Maps - Offline Navigation" at:

https://
play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.here.app.maps&hl=en

lets you download any global map to reside on the mobile/smartphone and thus you don't need Internet
connectivity for the GPS navigator on smartphone to work.


9. Universal Cradle to Hold the Smartphone in my Car for Navigation

I am using Arkon Universal Cradle (SM040-2, Mega Grip Universal Smartphone Holder with Removal Air Vent
Mount) to hold my smartphone in my car. It has an Air Vent Mount (GN047) with two clips and a support leg
for attaching the Universal Cradle to the vent louvers of an air vent in my car.

I also have a car charger to keep my smartphone charged if I need to use the Google Maps GPS navigator on
the smartphone for extended amount of time.

The following web page describes how I use GPS navigator and other related information age technologies to
make my sightseeing driving tours much easier and enjoyable:

http://
www.shltrip.com/Sightseeing_in_Information_Age.html


10. Not a Good Idea to Buy GPS Navigator that is Built-In in a New Car

It is NOT a good idea to buy a GPS navigator that is built-in in a new car for several reasons, such as:

10.1 Very Expensive:

The price of a built-in GPS navigator is very expensive in the order of US$1,500 or more. The price of a typical
traditional stand-alone portable GPS navigator is usually only about US$200 or less. Furthermore, the GPS
navigator on Google Maps in a smartphone is FREE.

10.2 Very Expensive to Update the Map:

The typical cost to update the map in a built-in GPS navigator is about US$200 each time whereas most stand-
alone portable GPS navigators provide FREE map update for the life of the GPS navigator. Usually we need
to update the map in the GPS navigator at least once per year because there are always some construction
work going on that changes the roads or the highway exit ramps, etc. every year. For GPS navigator on
Google Maps in a smartphone, there is no need for the user to update the map because Google Maps are
always up-to-date.

10.3 The Built-In GPS navigator is stuck in a car and cannot be used in a rental car or other cars when you
are traveling out of town.

On the other hand, the stand-alone portable GPS navigator and smartphone obviously can be used on any car
and are much more useful.

Some people may say that rental car companies usually offer a rental GPS navigator as an optional item for
the rental car. But using such optional rental GPS navigator in a rental car has two disadvantages: (1) Incur
additional rental charge on the rental GPS navigator, and (2) It can be a horrible experience to use an
unfamiliar GPS navigator in an unfamiliar rental car while driving in an unfamiliar territory. The driver has to
learn real time how to use the unfamiliar GPS navigator and how to operate the unfamiliar rental car while
driving in an unfamiliar territory. The distractions of driver's attention from the road by piling up such three
layers of unfamiliarities together is almost a recipe for the poor driver to run into an automobile accident.

11. Pedestrian Mode of Navigation for Hiking

The GPS navigator on Google Maps can be used not only for vehicle navigation, but also for pedestrian
navigation for hikers and backpacking on hiking trails. A demonstration for this pedestrian mode of navigation
on Google Maps can be seen at the following YouTube website:

https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=IutnRcBe8hk

12. Traffic Color Codes on Google Maps

Another nice feature of GPS navigation on Google Maps is that the real time traffic conditions on the highways
are color coded. Blue color means traffic is normal and smooth on your planned route, orange color on a
section of your planned route means there is a medium amount of slower traffic on that section of the route,
red color on a section of your planned route means there are substantial traffic delays or serious traffic jam on
that section of the road. The more red, the slower the speed of traffic on that section of the road.

Furthermore, the GPS navigator on Google Maps also indicates the number of minutes of extra delay to go
through a given red colored section of the route ahead. Such color coded traffic conditions
with delay time
label
on the route ahead is quite useful to many people.

For example, if the red section ahead is very short, in the order of a small fraction of a mile and the extra
delay is only a few minutes, the driver may decide to stay on the same route and to tolerate the very heavy
traffic for that short section. But if the red section is very long in the order of many miles and the extra delay is
30 minutes or more, the driver may decide to take the next highway exit and to force the GPS navigator to
produce an alternative route to avoid that long section of heavy traffic jam ahead.


Sometimes, the GPS navigator will produce an alternative route to bypass the heavy traffic jam and offer the
alternative route as an option for the driver to decide to stay on the same route or to accept the suggested
alternative route.


13. Safety Consideration in Using GPS Navigator

There are news articles reporting people in remote areas followed GPS navigator into unpaved road and get
stuck in such remote area for several days.

Please see one of many examples of such dangers on unpaved roads as reported at:

http://
www.insideedition.com/headlines/22400-after-woman-gets-stuck-in-desert-for-5-days-how-to-avoid-
being-led-astray

Similarly, in the winter season, do not drive onto an unplowed road with heavy snow in a remote and unfamiliar
area. Getting stuck in remote area in very cold winter with heavy snow for many days can be life threatening.

So, it is important to take some precaution steps in your planning for your trips in such remote areas:

13.1. Fill Up the Gas Tank in Every Morning

Spectacular national parks are often in remote areas. When I am doing sightseeing driving tour in a remote
area, the first thing I do in the morning is to fill up the gas tank of my car near the hotel before I go anywhere.
This is an important step to make sure that I do not run out of gas and get stranded in a remote area where
there may be no cell phone coverage such that the stranded person cannot call for help.

I remember that when I did the driving tour in Alaska, the local advice is that when you see a gas station, fill up
the gas tank of your car because the distance between gas stations is often very far in Alaska and the next
gas station may be out of gas. You do not want to run out of gas and get stranded in remote area in Alaska
where Grizzly bear may show up to visit you.

13.2. Download the Google Map into the Smartphone Before the Trip

If I plan to tour a remote area where there may be no cell phone coverage, I will download the Google Map
for that remote area into my smartphone while I am still at home or in a hotel where there are WiFi service to
facilitate such map download. The procedure to download Google Map into smartphone is described in
Section 8. Or use the traditional stand alone GPS navigator which does not need Internet connectivity to work.
In this way, the GPS navigator will work properly in such remote area even when there is no cell phone
coverage.

Without such pre-loaded map and when the car is at the fringe area of weak cell phone signal, a smartphone
based GPS navigator may appear to be working, but may be more likely to give wrong navigation instructions
and tell the driver to make the wrong turn into the wrong road.

13.3. Do Not Drive into Unpaved Road in Unfamiliar Territory

In an unfamiliar and remote area, do not drive onto an unpaved road even if the GPS navigator tell you to do
so. The probability is high of getting stuck or getting into life threating danger if one drives onto an unpaved
road in an unfamiliar territories.  For example, see the following video on how an unpaved road in Joshua Tree
National Park can become very difficult and dangerous for a regular sedan to get stuck in a desolate desert
with no mobile phone service coverage:

http://
www.desertusa.com/video_pages/black-eagle-road.html

it can become a life and death situation.

It is much safer to stay on paved road even it is a longer road to get to the destination. When you reject the
unpaved road recommended by the GPS navigator and keep on driving on the paved road, your persistence
will force the GPS navigator to re-route (to avoid the unpaved road) to reach your destination.