Standalone GPS is going, going, gone

Every once in awhile, I am pleasantly surprised by technology that just works.

I was driving down the highway, loosely following the Navigation application (GPS) on my phone. At one point, the blue line – indicating the route – looked strange. I was on a main road, a fairly straight one, and there it was – the map indicated a big loop up ahead. “Surely the phone must be wrong,” I thought to myself. “I know I’m supposed to stay straight on this road. I’ll just ignore the GPS’ directions and then it can re-route me.”

Technology doesn’t always know best, but this time it did. Up ahead were bright orange signs – “Road Closed Ahead – Follow Detour.” The detour took me right around the loop, the same one that the GPS had displayed a few minutes earlier. I knew that Google Maps – and therefore the Navigation application on my phone – is updated often, but I didn’t know that it also “knew” about road closures and detours. Impressive. It’s no wonder that my TomTom has been shoved into the center console ever since I got an Android phone.

The TomTom requires a special charger, the discipline to plug it in to your computer every few months to download updates (not to mention having to find the pesky cord to do so), and an open wallet to download major map updates. The Android Navigation app has seamless integration with Gmail and Google maps. It’s so easy to look up directions while I’m at work, click a button to e-mail them to myself, then open them with the Navigation application on my phone.

The GPS as we know it – the standalone TomTom, Garmin, etc – is dying, being replaced with something that’s constantly being updated and improved for free…the Android smartphone. I think it’s time to clean out my center console.

So, what do you think ?