Ed Zitron has a fantastic idea:
Google 16GB Nexus 7 retails for $200. Cheap Android tablets are rapidly racing toward the $50 range – though one can’t guarantee quality at $64.99 – and I see no reason why Google hasn’t jumped into [the consumer GPS industry] and squashed the competition. Google Maps navigator is twice the GPS that TomTom or Garmin has created (I’ve used around 8 in the last year) and is better than anything I’ve seen inside a car outside of Elon Musk‘s Tesla. Android is cheap to build for, easily customizable (look at the Kindle Fire or any of the different open source ROMs like Cyanogen Mod and Jelly Beans).
Google could create a small tablet – 6 inches, perhaps – put a SIM card in there much like Apple does for their cellular iPads – customize Android to focus on maps, and price the thing at $200. They could run a deal with Verizon like they do for the Chromebook – 100MB a month, for free, for two years.
I know that this idea is fantastic because it’s what I have been thinking for some time now. Indeed, it’s a variation of a goal that I have been working towards. I want an Android GPS system. I’d prefer it inside my dashboard, but I’ll take it outside of it. In fact, I’ve been road testing all sorts of Android map apps (I’ll be posting reviews) in preparation for buying one to have installed in the Forester. The Forester’s stereo interface is dreadful, and when we bought the car we agreed that I would be able to replace it. I hadn’t thought of Android – or even a GPS-capable player – at that point, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I like it.
What are the advantages of an Android GPS system? Namely, that I can use all of the addresses I already have stored in my phone. That’s a pretty big deal to me. The apps tend to be lackluster, either because they’re online-only (like Google Navigator, Waze), they don’t incorporate contact data easily (NavFree, MapFactor), an inability to work offline (Skrobble), or some other issue. But I’m working on it. If I get my Android car stereo system, I’ll have a map program in there.
Right now I am switching between my Garmin standalone device and putting my phone on a mount and using that. Both have their problems. I’d really like a dedicated device. I hope that there’d really be a market for it and I think Zitron has some good ideas.
I think it would be even better, of course, if they were actually talking directly to the car companies. More and more of them are working towards devices with interfaces and apps. But they’re proprietary. I don’t see a whole lot of great reasons that they shouldn’t be using established OSes with an established app-base. But absent that, I’d be more than happy to have a device propped up on the dashboard while being able to keep my phone in its holster.