If you've ever driven to a place you've never been with a GPS, you know how useful it can be, but simply having a GPS isn't all that it takes. One of the added features we see on a lot of GPS navigators is lane guidance, and that's for a very good reason. Now, Google has added this feature to its navigation service in a select few countries in Europe.
Lane guidance is a feature that tells you, in advance, which lane to be in when approaching a turn on highways. This not only makes it easier for you to avoid getting lost, but it's also safer because it means you won't spend as much time looking at the road signs with your eyes away from traffic.
As someone who really likes going on road trips, a GPS that lacks lane guidance is one I won't buy. For short distances it's not something I'm all that bothered by, but for long distance drives on roads I've never been on before, it's a much-appreciated luxury. This is why I never use Google Maps for road trips, but that may just have changed.
The lane guidance system for Google Maps will be available in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Ireland. The service already exists in the U.S.
This selection of countries is fairly small, so we don't expect too much to happen yet. But as the list expands, we can imagine that the manufacturers of GPS navigation devices such as Garmin, TomTom or Magellan won't be too pleased. Up until now, Google Maps hasn't been entirely a bothersome competitor because of Maps' limited feature set – you need to have an active Internet connection to travel long distances, you don't have lane guidance, and you don't have a GPS-based speedometer built-in. As Google starts adding features, however, that could all change.
What are your experiences with GPS navigation devices? Have you bought a dedicated device because Google Maps on your smartphone doesn't meet your needs, and would you ditch your dedicated navigator when Google does introduce lane guidance in your region?