8 Features That Could Leverage Most Navigation Apps

Intro

No doubt, navigation apps have changed our lives. We can hardly remember the days when we used to print maps or ask a passerby for directions. Heck, tell that to our kids, and they will think we lived in the stone age.

Moving from distance to time

Put people in an open field, and ask them, “point me to a location which is 650 meters away”. Most people would fail to estimate something even close to that. So when navigation apps display navigation messages such as “turn left in 850 meters”, it may be precise, but for most users, it’s pointless.

Base navigation orders on noticeable visual objects

When the user reaches a junction, his next step is to take the right turn to the right road. When you think of it, it’s a complicated task — he needs to match the map on his display to the streets outside, including measuring distance and all that while he is driving (!).

Integrate Car Pool to your trip

Carpool is an excellent idea since it can help reduce traffic and save costs for so many people. The way most companies implement carpool is by trying to coordinate drivers and passengers’ planned trips.

“Notify me when the traffic is lighter.”

One of the most common use cases for users is to use navigation apps to get a real-time ETA, and this is how they know when they leave their office/home.

“Direct me to the closest parking lot.”

We were all in this situation — you reach your destination, and then you start looking for a parking lot. In many cases, parking lots status data can be accessed online, so one of the requests users want is “get me to the closest available parking lot.” This can save users tons of time searching where to park their car when they reach their destination.

Compute walking distance

Of course, the user wants to get to his destination as quickly as possible, but directing him precisely to the final destination is not always the quickest way of doing that. Sometimes the ultimate goal for that car can be 300 meters from the address, and at this point, the user should continue on foot. It depends on the traffic and road situation. Computing walking distance can be handy for users, especially in crowded areas.

Car Energy Consumption

Fuel consumption when driving at low speed in traffic jams can be different than driving on a long way on 110 km per hour. And since the app can estimate how the trip will be in terms of speed and traffic, it can also calculate the energy consumption for the car.

Help the app detect your car direction

The following is a small but essential feature — the way navigation apps know your direction is by the movement of your car. When you start your trip, it takes time for the app to understand your direction and sometimes even precise location (when there are multiple roads close to each other). The time wasted here can cause the app to show a wrong path and extend his trip more than expected. To overcome this frustration, the user can rotate the map and move his location before he starts the journey to help the app with the correct paths.

Summary

Some of the features exist in some of the apps, some exists in patents, and some are still in my head, but my feeling is that most of the navigation apps I know don’t make use of their significant data (both online and DB) and the great device’s technology while sticking to the traditional navigation product instead of giving us the next generation of navigation apps.

Head of Mobile Any.do, Author of “Pro iOS Testing”

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