How smart is your navigation app?
It may seem unlikely that someone who drives a Zipcar two or three timesa year is qualified to drive a Bentley Continental GT Convertible — acar worth $234,100 and goes from zero to 60 m.p.h. in 3.2 seconds.
It may seem unlikely that someone who drives a Zipcar two or three times a year is qualified to drive a Bentley Continental GT Convertible — a car worth $234,100 and goes from zero to 60 m.p.h. in 3.2 seconds.
But, for two hours, I had an opportunity to drive one while testing out the Nokia Maps smartphone app — and for that, I’m a perfect candidate. While I know the streets of Toronto well, I don’t drive them, so on the rare occasion when I rent a car I inevitably get nervous and flustered and end up driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
So, could an app really make me a more confident urban driver? While nothing could calm my nerves about driving a car with 550 horses and worth more than my mortgage, I was willing to give the app a try. It comes free with Nokia smartphones and will be widely available on the Windows Phone platform in 2012.
The smartphone can be mounted to the dash (with a suction-cup-like accessory), so the app is hands-free and voice-guided. I liked the maps, which show slopes and curves, speed limits, traffic signals and stop signs, as well as real-time traffic. There are options for the fastest, shortest and greenest routes, and if you ignore The Voice’s directions, it simply reroutes you. Maps cover more than 140 countries in 80 languages; one feature I like, which isn’t available on some navigation apps, is the ability to sideload maps on your smartphone, so if you’re in another city or country, you’re not racking up data roaming charges.
The app also comes with Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor to help choose restaurants, hotels and attractions, which I used to find a café in Liberty Village so I could load up on even more caffeine, which is just what a nervous driver needs.
You can also personalize it with Own Voice, an app that allows you to record your own voice (or a loved one’s), and then hear the recorded voice for driving directions. But I particularly liked the option to use the soothing sounds of Darth Vadar or Mr. T. Or a version created by Montreal electrofunk band Chromeo.
The app is pretty much idiot-proof and got me where I wanted to go without getting confused, frustrated or lost.
And the Bentley got me there in style.