Google Maps navigation on Motorola Droid (and Android) adds night mode

    Night mode on Google Maps Navigation, Moto DroidThe already superb built-in navigation on the Motorola Droid (and Android 2.0/2.1) just got even better with the addition of night mode. Yes, please get me a megaphone so I can run to the nearest mountain top (Mt. Hamilton) and start hollering this spectacular news. But for me, of never ending Bay Area highway driving, it’s a nice bonus.

    A common feature on dedicated GPS units (such as those from Magellan and Garmin—worlds currently being turned upside down by Google), it now automatically “darkens” the display for night time use. This is much welcomed. There’s nothing worse than having a bright, white torch hanging from your windshield while driving home from San Francisco, down 101 at midnight. It can be distracting.

    So now, smart Droid flips to night mode and the display is much easier on the eyes. Funny enough, I don’t recall how this feature made it to my trusty smartphone; perhaps a secretive OTA (over-the-air) update? Or maybe it was part of Google Maps update? Don’t know, but sure enough the incremental improvements continue.

    In addition, I’ve noticed some of the highway icons and labels are now slightly larger at times. Helpful!

    And about a month ago I believe now, they also added a small icon for the turn after next. In other words, the Google Nav might tell you the next turn is left in half a mile. But you can also tell from the top right icon that there will be a right turn after that. This is invariably useful, especially when I’m driving San Francisco and lane jockeying (while Loni sleeps).

    In case you’re wondering, Google Navigation is superb.

    I previously used a Magellan. No longer. The Droid does it all and more. The voice recognition works great. The integration with contacts is helpful. The thing just works. Plus the maps, graphics are smooth, and easy to view (albeit a little tiny on the 3.7″ display). It’s a home run… and it’s, as I mentioned, getting better all the time. The only thing I really miss is the convenient highway POI feature on Magellan. With that, you could tell the GPS to find the nearest gas station, store, restaurant, etc. close to the highway. It would automatically pick a nearby exit, and give you some options. You can something similar on Droid, but it’s not nearly as easy, and doesn’t necessarily pick a convenient highway exit for easy ingress.

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