Tuesday, June 20, 2017

To Boldly Go Where No Mustache Has Gone Before

Mrs. McG's car has in-dash navigation, but mine does not. This means I am dependent on a third-party device -- or a passenger reading a map -- if I want to navigate.

For a number of years now this family has used Garmin GPS devices, but in the last couple of years I've found them increasingly troublesome and unreliable; in particular, the newest Garmin will not keep an update -- it may work for one trip but revert to outdated maps on the next.

In this day and age of Google Maps it seems obvious to rely on it, via a smartphone, for navigation, but fiddling with smartphone apps while driving is bad (m'kay?) and the only USB-A - to - USB-C cable I have doesn't handle charging well.

Google has addressed one of these issues by making its Android Auto app, which originally was limited to certain vehicles (or others with compatible aftermarket sound systems) usable in any vehicle, thanks to the Google Assistant and Bluetooth. All I'll need to try this thing out is a good charging cable and something other than my belt holster to hold the phone.

I've had such lousy luck with suction-cup holders for (coincidentally) the Garmin that I won't even consider them. Vent mounts might work in a climate where I'm less dependent on the air conditioner but I can't have any of the vents blocking air flow. So I've ordered a cockamamie gooseneck clamp thingie that may do the trick.

The Auto app should also make using my phone's music app more user-friendly so I can quit enduring the lousy sound quality from my thumb drive.

What remains to be seen -- aside from whether the new cable can keep my phone charged and the gooseneck clamp mount can keep my phone from falling under my feet at the first speed bump -- is how much cellular data it uses. I've gotten used to rarely paying more than a dollar each month for data usage, and from what I've read Google's map app doesn't seem to be a big problem data-wise, but there may be some troubleshooting and settings-adjusting in my immediate future.

If this test works out, future vehicle purchase decisions are likely to include the question of built-in Android Auto compatibility.

Update, after a test drive: I ran music through the Amazon Music app and had tracks play that were not on my phone. Supposedly I had the app set to only access tracks that were on my phone, but that doesn't seem to have carried over. As a result I wound up with a rather large data usage for such a brief time -- as of now, most of my month's data usage occurred during that one outing. Oddly enough the battery usage (I don't have the cable yet) wasn't all that bad.

Next test I'll use Google's music app -- it and Amazon were the only options -- with (again) only downloaded tracks supposed to play. We'll have to see how my data usage looks then.

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