Smartphones have replaced so many other tools and devices, such as our cameras, our notebook computers, and our tape players, that you might think they have replaced GPS, too. But smartphone technology hasn’t advanced so far that it’s not still a good idea to get GPS for your vehicle.
Here are five reasons why.
GPS bests smartphones for longer trips.
Google Maps on your smartphone is great for finding your way around town. It usually has up-to-the-minute traffic information. It can route you around accidents and construction work. But dedicated GPS devices for your car or truck has one major advantage on longer trips:
That’s because GPS devices don’t have to be in the range of a cell tower to show you your route.
Your dedicated GPS device has the map data stored in its program. When you use your smartphone to find your way in a rural area, or when you are travelling somewhere there’s limited cell service, you lose your data stream. Your smartphone can help you navigate only as long as you have a cell connection.
There are other navigation apps for your smartphone that let you set your destination and download a map, but you have to know exactly where you are going ahead of time. These apps won’t help if you decide to take a detour or to change your destination.
But what about the colour-coded routes on Google Maps that let you know about delays? And what about the Waze app that lets you know about accidents and police activity ahead on your route?
Smartphone apps have up-to-the-minute traffic information that GPS devices don’t. It’s a great idea to use your smartphone apps for getting around town. Smartphone apps are a great way to keep up with local traffic hazards and slowdowns. Waze and Google are superior to GPS for real-time traffic information.
But the better GPS units have superior onscreen information. They are a lot more useful at tricky intersections and traffic circles. Their voice directions are more precise. A Garmin GPS unit may tell you “Turn at the two-story red brick building.” When you can’t see street signs, GPS gives you more of the information you need not miss a turn than Waze or Google Maps.
There is an occasional issue with Waze that you never have with a dedicated GPS unit. Waze has some features like a video game. It allows users to communicate with other drivers, which is a good thing. It gives drivers extra points for the lowest gas prices and current highway conditions. It’s completely unknown for a Waze user to report fake road conditions to rack up points. But it doesn’t happen very often.
Dedicated GPS units do more than help you find your route.
Every device in Garmin’s Drive lineup can connect to a rearview camera. Garmin also offers more expensive “combo” units that integrate their rearview camera with a dash cam.
These cameras do a lot more than just documenting what happens if you have an accident.
Dedicated GPS units have some advanced safety features, such as lane-departure alerts, forward collision warning, and sending a text automatically if you (or your teenagers) are involved in a crash.
You might expect these kinds of features in new cars, but you can add GPS to older or more basic cars. Having just two cameras doesn’t match having an elaborate, expensive, factory-installed system with multiple sensors to record crash and driver safety data, but they are great ways to combat distracted driving. And what parent of teenagers doesn’t want a feature that combats distracted driving?
OK, I sold my GPS. But why not just use my Fitbit?
When we think of GPS navigation devices for vehicles, we usually think of Garmin, Fleetmatics, AT&T, Cisco Systems, IBM, Verizon, GE Capital, and Tomtom. Or maybe Pointer, Davantel, Navika, Gasgoo, or Huizhou Foryou. We don’t usually think of WHOOP, Fitbit, Garmin watches, Letsfit, Oura, and Apple Watch.
The market for GPS-enabled fitness devices is booming. It’s expected to reach USD 3 billion by 2023. Demand for GPS-enabled fitness devices is growing by about 15% every year. Worldwide, consumers buy 120 million of these devices every year.
And there’s a lot that’s good about wearable GPS devices.
They’re great for monitoring health conditions. Your doctor may prescribe one for safe exercise. Or you might just want a GPS-enabled fitness device to keep up with your vital signs while you are hiking, biking, trekking, running, swimming, or climbing.
Fitness devices keep up with real-time fitness statistics. They can monitor heart rate, sleep statistics, and daily calories burned. They are a little like having a smartphone or a tablet connected to your body for constant information about your health.
But your smart glass, smartwatch, or other wearable device isn’t designed for driving. They can tell you where you are. Some models can tell you how you got there. They can’t tell you anything about road conditions or traffic or speed traps, and they won’t help you drive more safely.
There is one killer feature that GPS-enabled devices for your car have that other devices don’t.
We’ll admit that for short trips you can get around just fine with a smartphone and Waze or Google Maps. As long as you are staying on major highways, they are good for getting from Point A to Point B on longer trips, too.
But there is one killer feature on GPS-devices that some drivers (especially commercial drivers) can’t afford to be without:
Consider what one dash cam user said about why she thought dash cams are a great idea:
“My dash cam sure came in handy when I got T-boned on the way home from work about 18 months ago. Their insurance company was al blah blah blah until I said ‘Oh yeah, I have dash cam footage. It’s on YouTube. I got a check a week later.
GPS-enabled dash cams can continuously record video as you drive. If the accelerometer in the GPS unit detects a crash, the most recent 5 minutes of footage is automatically saved to a computer card in the GPS unit. This information could help you come out on top in your negotiations with the other driver’s insurance company.
Dash cams can be useful in situations besides collisions.
You can get a dash cam with a feature that switches from navigation to camera view. A bright red arrow will point at the address you are trying to reach, showing you exactly where you need to go next.
There are dash cams that work with the GPS unit’s software to provide alerts that give you even more information than Waze or Google Maps. When you are stalled in traffic, and cars in front of you finally start to move, your dash cam may signal you to “Go.”
GPS units come packed with features. There are units that respond to voice commands. There are units that sync up your GPS unit via Bluetooth with your smartphone for even more ways to access the information you need.
Need some help sorting out your options?
GPS Technologies is here to help.
Whether you are tracking your teenager’s car or you are managing a fleet of cross-country freight trucks, GPS Technologies has the experience and the expertise to help you find exactly what you need — at some of the lowest monthly rates in the business.
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