Navigating the Philippines With Google Maps + GPS

Over the weekend, I brought the family on a road trip out of town to check out a piece of land we were planning to develop. I was able to find the place on Google Maps, and I’ve been checking out possible routes. I planned to use the mobile Google Maps application with my Smartphone’s GPS, since I’ve already tried it within the city and it worked like a charm.

I learned that traveling outside of Manila, Google Maps worked like a charm, too. When I first got to know Google Maps about four or five years back, it only had some satellite imagery of the Metro areas. Now it has street data, establishments, and even user-inputted information.

If your phone is GPS-enabled, Google Maps will track your direction and movement, as long as you have GPS satellites within line of sight.

What’s great is that some network providers (like Smart) have unlimited 3G plans even on prepaid. So traveling all day shouldn’t be a problem. You would just need to be sure you have a decent signal (both GPS and 3G), and enough battery charge (or that you can plug in your mobile phone with a car charger).

We only missed one turn, because I was having connection problems at that time. We also encountered a one-way street. If only Google Maps had traffic information, life would’ve been easier. But still, we were able to navigate through the place without having to ask for directions. One of my kids had fun watching the blue blip travel through the lines representing the roads, and approach the star (since I previously starred the exact point we were supposed to visit). The application even knows the direction you’re traveling toward, since the blip is actually an arrow!

So the PROs of this are:

– It’s cheap
– It’s fast if you’re traveling in 3G-enabled locations
– It’s handheld (you can use it while walking)
– It’s pretty accurate!

As for CONs, I could think of a few:

– Small screen (would depend on your Smartphone)
– You need to set up your phone before your trip, to make sure it works
– No traffic data
– No directions

Perhaps if Google were to add more layers of information, particularly traffic and directions, Google Maps would be a viable alternative to those expensive navigation systems offered by auto dealerships.

10 thoughts on “Navigating the Philippines With Google Maps + GPS”

  1. May I ask what Smartphone you were using? I’ve been trying to get the directions function to work on my GPS-enabled Blackberry Bold (Smart). No matter what destination address I tried it just kept saying “no route found”. It seems like the rest of Google map’s functions work fine (“My Location, Search, etc), but missing out on directions is a bit of a disappointment.

    1. Hi Kenneth. Driving directions don’t work locally, I’m afraid. You can try with the commercial service that comes with the built-in GPS/map equipment that you can buy from auto dealers. But with Google Maps, you will have to manually plan your route.

      I use a SonyEricsson Xperia, btw. I also have maps on My S60v3 Nokia, but it doesn’t have GPS.

  2. really smart work by google map, i am waiting to get this in my google phone, i know that will makes all my journey easy as it feel in on moving on my place.

  3. Why not use GARMIN XT on your Symbian Phone? No data charges, Free turn by turn navigation with voice prompt. You just search the location where you want to go then Garmin will take you there with ease for free. Google earth is classic for GPS navigation.

  4. There is already Google Map Navigator, it is free. But whatever development Google brings, it will not be of use to us here in the Philippines, until our traffic details are registered somewhere in the virtual world. It is only through this that such technology can be used locally.

  5. Nice post! Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your web-site is so cool. Iā€™m impressed by the details that you have on this site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched all over the place and simply could not come across. What an ideal website.

  6. that’s why i will stick with Nokia and Garmin Mobile XT with Roadguide.PH Contributor’s Map… šŸ™‚ Roadguide Contributors map is the most complete map of the philippines… šŸ™‚

  7. google maps works like magic for me except for the turn by turn feature that is not allowed here in the philippines. if that service would be available here, that is a huge + for google here in the philippines. otherwise, it is an excellent app!

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