N95 GPS Revisited

April 14, 2008
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I previously have written about the N95 GPS in August 2007: My love/hate relationship with the N95 GPS .

Since that time, Nokia has released new software that improves the utility of the GPS significantly. Opinions vary about the N95 GPS, as can be seen from the comments on the above post. However, the fundamental flaw back then was that it took so long to get a fix (to figure out where you/it are), that it was effectively useless.

With N95 firmware version 20.0.015 that problem has been corrected. The N95 now gets a fix within the same time as dedicated GPS devices from Garmin, Magellan etc. That means it’s usually nearly instant, or within one minute (It can be longer in rare cases).

So with that problem behind us, I recently had an opportunity to spend time with the N95 GPS again, in real-world driving situations (i.e. when I actually wanted to know how to get from point A to point B). Here are few highlights:

  • Never use the GPS yourself while driving – let a passenger use it to help guide you. if you’re alone, pull over, check out the maps, and then drive again.
  • The N95 will now create a “route” (driving directions) from Point A to Point B, without requiring any additional purchases.
  • Turn-by-turn “navigation” (spoken real-time navigation) is optional and must be purchased on a subscription or pay-per-use basis – I did not test/try this and, therefore, I can’t comment on it further.
  • While the driving directions (routes) seem accurate enough, they are difficult to use. I could not figure out how to display both the route and my real-time position on a map at the same time, which kind of defeats the purpose of having GPS.
  • The point of interest database is very incomplete and, as a result, its practical utility is limited.

I think I still have a love/hate relationship with the GPS. The love is better, but the hate is still there, albeit to a much lesser degree than with previous versions of the N95 mapping software. Perhaps something that best captures the state of the N95 GPS is that, in real-life situations, I found times when it was “easier” to load Google Maps on the laptop, manually figure out where we were, use Google Maps to create a “static” route to where we wanted to go, and then follow that, rather than use the live, real-time GPS and routing of the N95.

Next time I’m going to try the S60 version of Google Maps, which now comes as a native S60 version that runs directly on the N95 and uses the built-in N95 GPS hardware, to see if it works better than the standard N95 mapping application.

UPDATE: Check out my mini-review of the native S60 Google Maps application: S60 Google Maps on N95 Rocks

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