Satnav Software is Rubbish

There are a number of great mysteries out there which may never be solved. The Riddle of the Sphinx, The Mystery of Life, The Appeal of Chris Evans.  There are also others which are a bit closer to home, one of which is Why SatNav software is so universally appalling? 

I’ve used quite a few different solutions and, with one exception, they have been the programs that have come closest to making me hurl the device across the room. One program had the habit of crashing every time you added a favourite location. Another was so hard to use that I never actually figured out what it was I had done to enter a destination address. A third failed to make reliable Bluetooth contact with the GPS device (made by the same company as the software), meaning that you had to indulge in a bout of “Serial Port Roulette” each time you turned it on. That was also the software that would forget all its useful settings and addresses if the battery in the device ever dared to go flat.

Once they got going these programs usually managed to do the navigation part quite well, but it has always annoyed me that they were so badly written, with such poorly thought out user interfaces. I was reminded of this today when I got my wife a satnav program for her iPhone. I thought it would be a useful thing to have, and allow her to navigate even when out of range of cell towers. I even dared to hope that by now the developers would have fixed all the things I hate about such programs.

Not so. The program had an arcane and tricky installation process and followed that up with a user experience that goes completely against the lovely iPhone interface (even managing to implement a stupid alphabetic keyboard with an annoying click you can’t turn off). It ran slowly and lumpily for no good reason and then crashed without warning. As a final parting shot it managed to put our house in the wrong town. I wonder if I can get my money back.

Please someone, anyone, one of the proper software companies, bring out a satnav program that just works properly and is easy to use.  It is not impossible, I do have one satnav system that is wonderful in just about every respect. Unfortunately it comes attached to a rather large dongle in the form of my car, but it does serve as a reminder that it can be done…