ITP Blog

Live Web - Week 1: Turn right on to Spencer street

Google Map/Navigation

"Turn right on to Spencer street."

This is the first voice message my google map navigation/direction give me every time I bike from home.

I think google map navigation/direction feature is a very good example of a live platform. I tried it out, and here are my reasons:

1. It uses live traffic data to compute the routes

The recommended routes of rush hours are slightly different from the normal hours.
Some may critique that it uses machine learning algorithm to predict the route and can work offline. I find some articles online saying google use live traffic data when live data is available. And here is a youtube video explains how google map predicts the traffic:

2. It uses my real-time location to compute the route.

The "arrive by" time table changes when I speed up, slow down or stop to make a call.
The recommended routes change and re-route when I miss a turning point.

3. The user is mentally engaged

I need to put on at least one side of headphone to not miss the alert. Or look at the screen of my phone which was mounted on my bike.

4. It happens only at real time location

If I'm not at the starting point of my biking trip plan, I can only preview the route, and navigation feature can't be activated.

There are some interesting observations that I want to talk about:
1. When using google map/navigation to plan bike route, it takes the flatness and bike lane into consideration while when plan driving route, it shows construction sites. It's not a live element, but I feel it's thoughtful.

2. It has a "walk your bicycle" alert show on the screen, but I never heard it when I was biking.

3. I can search spots like restaurants, bars, gas stations and ATMs along the route, and the app shows if they are open or closed, how much detour time will be added to your route. Usually, it's a quick detour.

4. When we say something is live or synchronous, does it have to be attention involved? Online meeting and chat room for sure need users pay attention to the live conversation. But apps like google map or some app, they ask permission for real-time location even when you are not using the app, are they synchronous all the time?


interactive self-portrait: