I seldom use the navigation system that’s built in to my car (a Land Rover), because the mapping apps on my iPhone are far superior. When I want to be guided somewhere, I use Google Maps on the phone, primarily because by using that app I can view current traffic conditions and thus avoid heavy traffic. If I were to use the in-dash navigation, I’d have to live without that vital information. Sure, it’s less convenient to have to hold the phone, or prop it on the dashboard, than to glance at the screen that’s part of my car – but this is the current state of vehicle navigation that most of us have at our disposal.

“Most in-dash navigation systems aren’t as smart as your phone, perhaps lacking traffic data or point-of-interest information, and stuck with clunky update procedures,” according to this report from the New York Times.

This should change in the near future as auto manufacturers upgrade navigation systems in their vehicles. They better get moving on that, since there’s little reason to plunk down extra money when buying a new car for a navigation system that’s inferior to your smartphone and free mapping apps.

“Improvements are on the horizon,” writes the Times reporter. “In-dash navigation systems will be getting smarter, not just learning your preferences and using data connections for timely updates, but crowdsourcing sensor information from connected vehicles to assess traffic problems and road conditions – even guiding you around a newly formed pothole.”

That’s good news if you’re planning on buying a new car in the next couple years. Of course, you can stick with the smartphone navigation solution and save a bunch of money. You may not need a built-in navigation solution until you’re “driving” an autonomous car in a few more years.


Further reading:

Car Navigation Systems Plot a Course Forward Against Phone Apps
New York Times
February 1, 2018


Top photo credit: Steve Outing