7 Tips For Using Your Navigation App

It was only recently that I learned how to operate my phones GPS device. (Yes. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit this as it seems like everyone is a pro at it.) The need just hasn’t been there as we don’t travel very often or stray away from our usual places of interest. Let’s just say that we like to go where everybody knows our name more often than not.

Given our recent trips to Napa I now almost feel like an expert. To be honest, it took me a while to warm up to it as there were a few items I didn’t readily understand  what it was doing or how to interpret what it was telling me. As I struggled through the learning curve, I had the idea that I may not be alone in my confusion and that maybe one of you might find such a blog post useful.

First, I should disclose that I am currently using an Android device—it doesn’t take the best pictures but it certainly does a great job at navigation. Second, this isn’t a step by step guide to using this app—I’m certain that you can find many great tutorials out there for you to reference that are far better than anything I could conjure up for you. These are just mistakes that I’ve made numerous times that may save you from suffering through a bit of frustration.

Lesson #1: Make sure you’ve selected the right icon up top—the car, the bike, the little man or the bike.

This is the first thing I now do when I start the app. On several occasions I’ve started it up and made use of it without realizing that the little man (symbolic of walking directions) was selected—not the car. Given that driving directions are much different than walking directions, we’d drive around for a bit before realizing that something was wrong as we’d be instructed to turn where there wasn’t a street but rather a walking trail. As you can imagine, this oversight can be incredibly frustrating.

Lesson #2: If you’re not sure of your location—just choose “Your location”.

After making use of it so much this now seems like a silly thing to point out, but I had a slight freak-out once or twice because I couldn’t quite locate our address. Before figuring this out I tried typing in names of “nearby” landmarks. I somehow thought that the “Your location” notation was another way of the system advising to “type here”. Well no. It really is “your location” hence my freak out was unsolicited.

Lesson #3: Press the start button—that would be the little compass arrow on the lower right hand corner. No, it isn’t only there to show you where true north is located.

So for the best part of our first trip to California together—last August— I didn’t pressed this button. Now, you can still make use of the app even without pressing the start button. It tracks your progress, it tells you about all the nearby hotels & gas stations, it works pretty much the same except it doesn’t tell you what to expect, when to prepare to make a turn or when to make turns. After re-reading this it sounds like trivial info but it is rather important especially when you are acting as both the driver and the navigator. Hence, if you don’t’ turn it on your essentially using it as a map and not making use of it to its full capacity.

Lesson #4: If the app gives you the option—because it doesn’t always do so for me—to save power, choose it!

How many of us consider our phones battery guzzlers? I know I do! Honestly, I think that the majority of the time it has to do with the settings I’ve selected rather than my phone—in other words it’s user error in my case rather than the inadequacy of my phone to hold a charge. I can however count on it to ask me to turn on this mode when the battery is running low.  

Alternatively, you can go through the steps to view your maps offline which involves a bit of time and storage space on your phone.

Lesson #5: Zooming in provides you more details—i.e. the nearest restaurant!—and zooming out provides traffic alerts.

When you zoom in you’ll be able to see details such as where the nearest gas station, hotel, or restaurant is located—all quite useful.

Lesson #6: Don’t overlook the “resume” button.

After zooming in or out the GPS will look a bit differently—almost like it’s not on because it’s not showing you your progress. When this happens don’t freak! Like I did! Just press the “resume” button.

Lesson #7: If you think you might have a hard time finding a certain location again—like where you parked—drop a pin!

Pins are like bookmarks and come in especially handy when trying to find your parking spot.

Do you have any lessons of your own to share with regard to this app? Had any episodes of anxiety on account of it—or am I alone here? Regardless—I’d love to hear!