Usability and getting from here to there

Features, schmeatures. When it comes down to it, it’s about what happens when you need to use something in the real world.

As much as I absolutely love the navigation system in my Honda Odyssey, I don’t like the way you have to get information into it. It takes a whole lot of keys to program in an address. And if you want to find a business? Ha! I could be 5 miles from the nearest whatever, but it sometimes tells me I have to go hundreds of miles out of my way missing what is in fact the closest location. Part of the reasons for this is the fact that the car’s navigation DVD (where it gets all its maps and info) is only as up-to-date as the last time I upgraded it maybe 6 months ago.

This afternoon, I had to pick up a prescription for Laini. One CVS didn’t have the particular drug, so they called another one about 3 miles away which did have the right drug in stock. The pharmacist quickly rattled off the directions to find the second CVS but by the time I got to my car and started driving, I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly.

Sitting at a red light, I found it faster and easier to take out my Blackberry 8800 with its integrated GPS, fire up the new Google Maps that takes advantage of said GPS, push “0” to tell the software to pinpoint my location, select “Find Business” from the menu, and type in “CVS.” Easily found the CVS I just left and the one I was headed to. By the time the light turned green I was able to tell that my car was heading in the correct direction as the blinking blue dot (me) on my phone’s screen moved correctly along the purple line to the destination.

How silly is that? I’m sitting in a car with a GPS, and I used my phone to be sure I was heading in the right direction. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the car to tell me what I needed to know in the amount of time I had to ask the question (one red light cycle).