My cellphone provider, Verizon Wireless, has finally done something cool: they released a GPS navigator application on their Get It Now platform.
This application, VZ Navigator, can perform pretty much the same functions as a GPS unit:

  • Tell you where you are
  • Tell you how to get from where you are to your destination
  • Show you Places of Interest in your vicinity, and how to get there

And when I say Tell, it actually talks you through the directions: there is a female and a male voice available to guide you to your destination.
It also shows the next upcoming direction change as big as your screen can handle, plus the distance to the direction change. The screen changes layout depending on where you are: on the Interstate and highways it shows you the next intersection or exit, on local roads it shows you how to turn and what the name of the street is.
It works pretty simple: choose your destination, either by selecting one of your Favorites, choosing a result from the local search list, or by typing in an address. When you select Navigation, the navigator immediately starts giving you directions.
I’ve used it from the Verizon store to home, between home and work, and from home to the store, and there are few surprises. The most annoying factor is that the map (and to be honest about every on-line route planner) thinks our street is one continous street, while in fact it consists of two distinct parts. This results in a lot of directions trying to guide you over a field of grass… However, when you don’t follow the directions, the system quickly recovers, telling you it’s recalculating the route and picks up from your new location.
The service is free for 30 days, after that it is about $10 a month. Which beats most GPS units (at least the ones I was looking at). Undoubtedly the full-blown GPS units have more options and certainly a larger screen, but this is a nice way to get used to having a navagiation system with you.
It’s not available for all phones, but the Verizon website has a list of units VZ Navigator supports, plus a nice demo.