Sunday, March 18, 2012

Auto GPS Features You Can’t Live Without


Based on the feedback and comments I’ve seen on this site, automotive GPS is still the most common type of GPS that you guys use. I can’t say I blame you; smartphones are a hassle in the car, and while paper maps are awesome, trying to fold those suckers while behind a wheel is a feat worthy of song.

However, it seems like there are even more GPS features and options to pick from than ever before. I know in the past we’ve done articles on GPS features you shouldn’t bother with and ones you should, but those are all a little old now, and features are constantly being added.

While I recognize that a majority of the features that Garmin and other manufacturers include on their devices are there for a reason—and there’s likely SOMEONE who likes and uses them—here are a few that I, personally, wouldn’t want to live without:

Lifetime Maps

Most GPS units nowadays come with lifetime map updates, which is pretty much essential. You can, of course purchase older units which don’t have this, but I can’t think of a reason why you would. After all, your GPS is only going to be as accurate as your maps.

Real Directions / Voice Guidance

This is mostly a Garmin feature, but Real Directions is pretty much amazing in my opinion. Unlike with normal GPS voice guidance, instead of saying “Turn left in 100 feet” it uses landmarks and local features like “Turn left after the gas station.”  The downside is that the gas station might no longer be a gas station and therefore lead to some confusion. However, overall I prefer the Real Directions as I am pretty terrible at judging distances.

Barring that, though, voice guidance is an absolute must for simplicity’s sake.

POI Search

Quite a few units available now include preloaded POIs which generally consist of major chain restaurants as well as gas stations. I don’t really use this feature much when I’m driving around town, but when I’m travelling it is an absolute life saver.

Lane Assist

Having the GPS show you clearly which lane suddenly become ‘exit only’ before you get locked in is absolutely priceless. I don’t know why you’d buy a GPS unit without this feature, as it makes driving through complex interchanges and multi-lane highways a breeze.

Your turn!

What features would you never give up in your automotive GPS unit? Do you have any features that you absolutely hate? (Like 3D mapping… does anyone actually use that?) Let me know in the comments!!

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