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Google Maps Must Copy This Navigation Feature Launched by a Top Rival

Google Maps might be the go-to navigation software for the majority of mobile drivers on Android and iPhone, but the navigation space is expanding with more intriguing choices.
HERE WeGo on Apple CarPlay 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
HERE WeGo on CarPlayHERE WeGo on CarPlayHERE WeGo on CarPlayHERE WeGo on CarPlayHERE WeGo on CarPlay
The navigation experts at HERE couldn't ignore the mobile navigation battle, and their software comes with new-generation capabilities, some of which should also make their way to the likes of Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps.

Google should, therefore, look at its rivals and steal some of their ideas, especially because its objective is to build the best navigation app on the planet. Google can't always be the first to come up with brilliant ideas, and HERE has just demonstrated it with a recent update.

Version 4.10, which debuted not long ago, comes with a clever option to let users get repeated instructions while driving.

Why it's such a great feature

HERE WeGo on CarPlay
Photo: autoevolution
If you used navigation software at least once, you probably know already that turn-by-turn guidance is an essential feature that helps you reach your destination more conveniently.

The route guidance is offered in two ways. On the one hand, the sat-nav software displays next-turn information on the screen, so you can figure out which way you must go by just glancing at the screen. On the other hand, most navigation apps also speak the instructions, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road to follow the suggested route.

When you drive on an unfamiliar route, you might be focused on the road, therefore missing the instructions provided by the navigation app. If you miss a turn, the software must re-route, adding more time to the journey. For example, if you miss a highway exit, you might have to drive 30 extra minutes to reach the next exit and then return to the original route.

As a result, HERE's new feature allows you to stay up-to-date with next-turn information even if you miss the original instruction.

How it works

HERE WeGo on CarPlay
Photo: autoevolution
The navigation specialists at HERE came up with a straightforward way to use this feature, as you only need to tap the upper side of the guidance screen to get instructions repeated while driving.

Obviously, the process involves taking your eyes off the road for a second, but it's the most convenient way to repeat the instructions if you miss the original guidance.

All navigation apps need it

HERE WeGo on CarPlay
Photo: autoevolution
It's easy to see why other navigation apps need a similar feature. For instance, Waze typically recommends alternate routes to avoid main roads, sending users to small residential roads to help motorists avoid traffic jams.

Following Waze's guidance is often challenging, especially when using these narrow roads with multiple turns. Missing one instruction could cause the driver to go off route, eventually forcing the application to look for a new route but also potentially guiding users into a major traffic jam.

Repeating the instruction could also come in handy when the driver doesn't understand the provided information. The engine noise, the music playing in the car, or the passengers speaking in the cabin could make it harder to understand the turn-by-turn guidance, so a driver must have an easy way to repeat the instructions to follow the suggested route more conveniently.

However, there's room for improvement, mainly because the driver shouldn't take their eyes off the road to request the navigation app to repeat the guidance. One easy way to achieve this is to integrate voice command support, as users can request the application to speak the guidance again by sending a command.

HERE WeGo on CarPlay
Photo: autoevolution
Google and Apple have already explored ways to make the interaction with voice assistants more natural, but using Google Assistant and Siri continues to be a challenge. Google Assistant, in particular, is often broken on Android Auto, hitting the most mysterious bugs that take weeks to fix. For example, one common problem for Android Auto users is the broken support for making phone calls, as Google Assistant occasionally fails to dial a requested number.

Meanwhile, navigation experts like HERE, TomTom and Sygic continue to invest in more advanced capabilities, providing Google Maps and Waze users with solid alternatives to common navigation software. The only shortcoming is that some of their most advanced features are not available free of charge, so customers must get a subscription, eventually making the sat-nav an expensive investment.

HERE offers the aforementioned option free of charge as part of HERE WeGo, a navigation solution available on Android and iPhone (and Android Auto and CarPlay) with the essential feature package. Like Google Maps, it also comes with offline map integration, so you can navigate to a desired address without an Internet connection. Google Maps also offers such capabilities, but on the other hand, Waze lacks support for navigating offline because its crowdsourcing engine requires a permanent Internet connection to download and upload traffic reports. Apple Maps also received offline map support with the release of iOS 17, now available for the iPhone XS and newer.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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