I'd wanted to play with voice navigation every since I got my Android phone, a few months ago, but all the available apps were pay services, so I waited. A few weeks ago, Google announced they'd provide it with Android 2.0, but my HTC Magic (T-Mobile myTouch) was still running 1.6.
Picture me, tapping my toe impatiently.
Yesterday, they back-ported the functionality to 1.6 and put it in the app store, and I grabbed it. This morning, I put in my destination, sat it in my lap, and set out.
Hearing it tell me directions as I drive is startling.
In one-quarter mile, turn right onto on-ramp, Highway 157, North.
Turn right onto on-ramp, Highway 157, North.
My father's Bell model 500 sits on my desk. When I got my first cell phone, I couldn't believe I was carrying a telephone in my pocket.
I shut off my land-line service, and jumped in with both feet. I quickly discovered I also had my watch, my alarm clock, and my pager in my pocket. My old pager was long gone, but I donated my alarm clock to the Salvation Army. My watch, a gift from an old girlfriend, went in a drawer.
The myTouch put my email reader in my pocket, too. To underscore this, Qwest, my DSL provider, had a service outage a week or so after I got it. No computer, but I could still read my email.
Having both persuaded me that I should take my Google Contacts seriously, so it now really does store all my email addresses and my phone numbers. The app that stores my library-card, my grocery-card, and other bar codes was also useful.
But all that was extensions to things I already had. The bubble level app was cute, but not important. Google Sky Maps was very, very cute, but not important.
Other stuff? Nice, if not quite ready for prime-time. Browser? Slooooow. Calendar? Too small to be useful. eBook reader? I'll let you know once there's a Kindle app.
Amazon Marketplace showed me the future of retail, but it's still mostly an "Oooh!"
The turn-by-turn directions though? Important.
I have a notebook full of maps I've printed to get places -- my own, personal atlas. No more. From now on, my phone can just tell me how to get where I want to go.
The phone in my pocket has replaced the GPS that I never owned.