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Google Maps (DO NOT TRUST!)


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Took a 1000 mile trip to see my son and family over Christmas.  On the way there, I decided to hook up my new Garmin XUMO XT, and try it out.   I had some issues with it (will do a review on that later), and ended up finishing the trip just using my phone and Google maps.  On the way back, I decided to skip the nuisance with the XUMO, and just hook up the phone and use Google maps to get home.  I've made this run at least a half dozen times, so I pretty much know the roads and routes.  However, in winter, in the dark, and with ... ahem... advancing age, I chose to just put the map directions up.


It was a long drive (normally 13-14 hours) on snowy and icy roads, dodging skidding and sliding Californians (🤣🤣) with bald street tires along the way.  The roads were actually pretty good, but with weather delays, breaks, and such, we were on the last leg after 6PM.  After gassing up, I headed up a road where I normally turn right and head east about 100 miles, before continuing north.  Instead, Google maps sent me north.  There were two or three roads left and right to the freeway, rather confusing in low light, so I followed the road, knowing instantly "hey, this is different; this has to be wrong".   


Short story long:  Google maps sent me over a tall, icy metal bridge, over a large river, in the middle of the night, headed north into a storm of ice and snow.   As soon as I could pull over, I rechecked the routing.  Yep, it was sending me through a network of small, country roads, northeast to my destination.  It was ALSO adding another full hour to my trip.  Instead of four hours left (18 hours!), it was FIVE MORE HOURS.   Now, little bit more about me:  I used to walk over 200' structures on Navy ships, and thought nothing of it.  However, I picked up a vertigo problem in my late 40's, which has gotten worse over the years.  I can mentally will myself to remain rational, but going over tall bridges, or over high roads adjoining cliffs and drop offs, can be gut wrenching for me.  Ergo, that tall bridge was difficult.  I turned around, went over that f**king bridge again to get back to the road I was supposed to return on, fired up the Garmin, threw my phone in the back of the car, and fought off fatigue to get home within 18 hours of leaving my son's house.  The roads over that remaining section were pretty icy, temps were as low as 4F, but the rest of the trip was largely inconsequential.


Here's the kicker:  When I stopped after the misrouting over that bridge, I could not for the life of me figure out why Google had changed the routing.  I had suspected that perhaps my normal route was closed, that due perhaps either a weather problem or traffic accident, Google maps knew something I did not, and was sending me on a better routing for that evening.    I also know that there are switches for their app to evade toll roads, freeways, and the like.  None of those were inadvertently set.  I finally said "What the heck", and just cleared everything, started over, plugged in my home address, and again, it sent me North.  Then a little "pop up" window came up, and said something like "Congratulations!  You saved 0.02% in energy costs by taking this alternate routing."  I was sent forward into a snow storm, over an icy metal bridge, as part of a Google "green" initiative.  Some corporate manager at Google decided that "saving the planet" trumped all other concerns, FOR EVERYONE, in EVERY POSSIBLE SITUATION, so they gave me no choice, or even notice, in my original 1000 mile routing.  They  gave me no alternative routing when I reinitiated my route, i.e. "fastest routing" versus most fuel efficient.  They alone decided that my 18 hour winter trip should last 19 hours, and take me directly into a freaking winter snow storm!


So, now I know why I own a Garmin Zumo XT, not just for the motorcycle, but to cross check every travel route I ever take.  Sure, I can trust Google maps to get me to an unfamiliar store nearby, i.e. there's no consequence if they cost me 2-3 minutes.  In fact, on the trip there due to the problems I was having with the Zumo, I had three displays on my dash, i.e. my built in Ford GPS, my cell phone with Google maps, and the Zumo, because in the winter conditions in which I was driving, I didn't feel I could trust any one of those sources alone.  Unfortunately, I think that's everyone's future.   Ordinary trust has been sacrificed in behalf of ... alternative agendas.

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Google has become a bloated and fairly useless app for anything other than the local trip to the store you mentioned. It seems Everytime I open the app it does something unexpected. That is if you could see the screen for all the crap overlaid on the map. 

On the bike I use GPS. In the car I'm usually stuck with Google, but I use it with a big dose of skepticism.

I'll probably switch to Waze if I need to travel by car going forward.

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Another no non-sense nav app is called scenic.  It is a subscription fee, but you can do it a few times for free.  Pretty darn good nav app.

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I haven't used the ZUMO enough to give it a fair review, which is why I'm holding back.   However, the two issues up front that bothered me the most:


1) While trying to add an additional waypoint en-route, Zumo pops up a map, where I'm supposed to point and touch the place I want to go.   If I want it to "tell me how far city 'B' is, and when will I pass by there", or "Add Harbor Freight in city Z as a way point, and tell me how long it'll take to get there", you're out of luck with a Zumo.   You can pinch and expand to find "a" point, but no precision is possible.  Plus, after you pick the point, it doesn't show up on your route map.   (Plus, if you should accidentally touch a point along your route while doing all of this, and it's say, Christmas eve, Zumo will dutifully take you into the heart of a city on a busy night like Christmas eve, before you can figure out how big a mistake you just made.🙄


2)  I was hoping that the Zumo's traffic and weather reports along the way, would help me steer clear of problems.  It uses your phones internet connection, via Garmin's "Drive" application, to access that real time information.  Well, on the way to my destination (12/23rd), in traffic moving about 3 to 5 mph (sliding, is more accurate), the Zumo lost contact with my phone.  I was in a fairly remote area, so I thought the issue was my phone losing it's internet signal, but my phone had cell tower/internet connectivity, just fine.  The Garmin had simply lost connection to my phone.  The Garmin said it was connected, but it just "spinned" trying to bring up weather along the route.  The Drive app said that the Garmin was connected, but both lied.   (Like a fool, I was clunking the two devices together, yelling "Connect, you stupid idiots, connect!" 😏)  Rebooting the next day, restored connectivity.


3) After a night in a motel, after the prior incident, when I tried to turn on the Garmin, nothing doing.  It appeared dead, dark, and silent.  Although I had turned it off, I thought may it didn't make it "off", and drained the battery in standby.  Plugging it into power; no result.  I finally pulled up the manual, and held the start button for 30 seconds to reboot, and start the unit.   


All in all, it just felt clugy.  I thought to myself, "So, say I'm on a long trip on my BMW RT, could I depend on this thing for directions?!"  Right now, that answer is "no", not without a cell phone to fill in the gaps that the Zumo apparently cannot fill.


That's just an initial review, and it only covers negatives.  There are many positives, i.e. I really like the screen, appearance, directions it gives, etc..  I expect that there's quite a bit (e.g. basecamp) that I have to learn.  Maybe I'll do a real review later this year.   I still have to mount the ZUMO over where my NAV6 is supposed to go.  However, this first experience tells me that I'm almost certain that I'm going to be adding a ball mount for my cell phone.  I couldn't survive without it, depending on the Zumo alone.  (The NAV6 is probably not much better, for what it's worth.)

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I used the Zumo XT on a 10 day trip, 3500 miles last spring. Orange county, Prescott Arizona, Tucumcari New Mexico, Oklahoma, Fort Smith Arkansas, Kansas City Kansas, Manhattan Kansas, Denver Colorado, Vail Colorado, Montrose Colorado, Flagstaff Arizona, and back to orange county.  Honestly, it was virtually flawless.


Yes adding a stopping point requires you stopping and looking up the location and adding it, or using the touch on the map thing.


I was using a iPhone 7 with the Smart drive app installed, Schuberth C-4 helmet with intercom, and of course the Zumo XT.  I realize different people have different experiences, but I only had A couple of disconnects the entire trip. I found the quickest correction was to simply go to settings on my iPhone, turn off the Bluetooth, wait a few seconds and turn it back on again. Everything would pair right back up and away I’d go.



This training video from Touratech is an hour and 20 minutes long. 😳. It seems really long. But it is really comprehensive.


Good luck…. I think you’ll learn to like it once you settle in with it. I listen to music, received phone calls, received text messages along the route. Overall I’m very happy with it now that I “understand“ it. YMMV. 😁


The smart drive app really helped with weather. As I left Manhattan Kansas, heading west for Denver, the weather was not good. This is a snapshot of what the app showed me, and I literally slow down, and sped up, to time my movement across I 70 so that I would go between those two rain cells.


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10 hours ago, Scott9999 said:

could I depend on this thing for directions

While I do use my Nav devices, I also bring a map so that I know what to expect and to orient myself on the trip. Call me old (my wife makes fun of my map all the time ) but if the nav doesn't prompt me to turn where I planned, (and as you learned, they do that) I pick up on it and make the correction. I mainly use the nav to route around traffic problems and to show me upcoming streets........and for ETA's............YMMV:java:

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For the record I have found anything to do with weather on the map apps is suspect. 


There are adjustments you can make as far as routing to force what you want. 


I run WAZE and Google most of the time when on trips. I also keep paper maps and like to see where the apps are sending me ahead of time. 


Not yet so jaded that I am calling out Google on how it works, because I remember the days of driving miles and miles to the next exit or intersection to try and figure out where the f' I am at!

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Google maps is a tool where convenience is the highest priority, and it will often reroute you mid trip…so you’re right to not trust it to do what you wanted it to do…but it’s also not designed to do what you wanted it to do. 

I have noticed the new energy efficiency option as well and sometimes it seems to make odd choices - no idea if it’s accurate or not - but it’s so far always given me the shortest and fastest routes as alternates to the most efficient. 

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I don't seem to have near as many problems as above.  On a rare occasion my Nav 5 will send me off to the swamp, but so will the GPS built in to both cars.  I would say it happens maybe once in a 100 at most.  On the bike I use the Nav 5 for navigation with waze on the Iphone coming through my headset to help me with traffic and radar. I do agree it is hard to touch and add a point. If I am planning a trip, I do it in BaseCamp and download to the GPS.  If I am on the road and need to add something to the Nav 5, I pull over.  I can't do it while riding with gloves.


Maps....I carry an atlas.  Thats not good for city navigation but It will always get me where I am going if I have Iphone and GPS flameout together.  If on a long trip, I print out the route and place it under the clear plastic map cover on my tankbag.  I can see all the turns coming with a quick glance.

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I didn't know this was added to Google Maps, but apparently it's a route option now you can turn on or off like Tolls, Ferries, etc.  I'll be defaulting this to off.




Edit - Additional info


So I'm not seeing the option on my map either as described in the linked article.  I guess just watch out for for the green leaf indicator on the route.  Since Waze is owned by Google, I wonder how long until they add this "feature" to Waze.

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2 hours ago, BrianT said:


So I'm not seeing the option on my map either as described in the linked article.  I guess just watch out for for the green leaf indicator on the route.  Since Waze is owned by Google, I wonder how long until they add this "feature" to Waze.

It's definitely not obvious.  Deliberately opaque, IMHO.


For reference, these directions are from an Android phone:

Within the map, after entering your destination, and clicking "Directions", you'll see "## hr ## min (### mi)".  Below that, a leaf icon, and "Most fuel-efficient".

So, now you know that you're on the correct screen.


Look at the top of the app, at your origination point (e.g. "Home"), and then to the right of that.  Those are the "three dots" described in their description.  (Why not show a picture and circle those dots in red?!). That's a context menu.  Clicking those dots will give you various options, at the top of which is "Route Options".  Those options include "avoid highways, avoid tools", etc., as has been the case for years.  At the bottom is the check box "Prefer fuel-efficient routes", checked by default.  Clear that box, and you're back to normal.


However, the application will STILL say "Most fuel-efficient", even after shutting the app off ("force stop"), opening/reloading it, and entering in the route again.  I checked the steps, and they are no longer sending me North at that point, so I guess the "Most fuel-efficient" phrase is just hard coded into the app, and never changes.


Again, the M***f**kers at Google never asked me if I wanted that checked by default.  They didn't check any of the other "driving options" by default.  Some "master of the universe" just decided that for everyone to be a good human being, they should have that box checked.  Even if sends someone into a snow storm, adds an hour to an 18 hour trip, even if it kills someone, Google exec's and designers are good with that decision (again, IMHO).


I thought a few people might want to know, but I also wanted to RANT about it!!  (Now, I did wait 24 hours before I did that, just to cool off a bit.  When it happened, I was out for blood! 😡)

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