Thursday, May 24, 2007

Google gets it right

You have to hand it to Google, they do a lot of things very well. I am in the UK and was just testing my various BlackBerry 8800 mapping applications as I took a short train ride. BlackBerry Maps actually did best this time - I have found that it has a pretty nice real time tracking mode, which shows you your speed and bearing as well as a dynamically scrolling map. Telenav gave me a lat-long but never managed to download any map data, just gave a "loading" message (while great in North America, it hasn't been any use to me in the UK so far). Spot didn't manage to download a map either, MGMaps still isn't recognizing my internal GPS and Google Maps didn't support GPS when I was on the train.

However, I am just waiting for someone to collect me from the station and thought I'd quickly surf the web on my BlackBerry. My home page is Google Mobile. Right there on the front page, with just a handful of other links, is a link saying "download google maps mobile with GPS support". I click on that, and have a page which says "download google maps with GPS for the BlackBerry 8800" (so it obviously recognized my device automatically). It told me that it was a 200k download in advance, so I know it wouldn't break the bank despite the fact that I'm paying by the kB here. It takes about a minute or so to download, and now I have a very nice Google Map (either a street map or a satellite image) centered on my current location, accurate to 3m. And I can blog about it while I'm still waiting to be collected!

I wish that all my software installations and upgrades were that simple! (Though now I think about it, I'm a little surprised my existing Google Maps Mobile didn't tell me that there was an update available - so still room for improvement!) I'm still planning to provide more details on various new BlackBerry location applications shortly, as mentioned in previous posts.

Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless


Anonymous said...

Have you tried mobile live search from microsoft lately? My T-Mobile Dash doesn't have GPS, but when I was lost outside London recently I just seached for the restaurant across the street and safely found my way back. BTW their UK imagery is way better than Google's ...

Unknown said...

Google has always been keen on simplicity and ease for the end-user - while providing an elegant solution.

Unfortunately, I'll have to disagree with Anonymous that Microsoft has better high-resolution imagery in several areas of interest. I'll also highlight that an experiment was run much in the way that Peter did between both apps with a friend - just that I've been nice about it and haven't posted anything on my blog.

Both apps could gain from improvements, but Google is clearly on the right path which only helps to perpetuate my bias.

MS's continuous server and name changes have also always created a major concern for me - not just because of the circumstances that result in brand recognition - but in upgrade accessibilities as well. Until they settle on branding, it gets rather difficult to place a great deal of trust in the services they're providing. Re-branding also significantly identifies a weakness in any organization's ability to compete, or at the least - that they're trying very hard to compete with an entity that appears not to have to try very hard at all.

Anyway, just my opinions.