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Google messes up Android navigation

Posted by Brandt Dainow on July 27th, 2013 at 3:01 am

Where's my blue navigation button gone?

If you have an Android phone you may have just lost your navigation app. Millions have. Google took it away from you. They didn't warn anyone. They didn't ask. They just destroyed it via an update to the Maps app. It's causing a lot of pain to literally millions of people. It's living proof of why Google is too big, can't control its own engineers any more, and has lost its way.

The Navigation software is actually part of Maps, and the Blue Arrow is just an icon to bypass the menu steps inside Maps to get at Navigation. Google have introduced a new beta nav system with the latest Map update. And, for no good reason anyone can think of, removed the icon.

The new nav system sucks. It lacks features of previous systems and crashes - often. While Google did warn it was beta, that's no excuse. Effectively what they said was:

"We have not finished this software and so it's not fit for purpose. We can't be bothered testing it ourselves, we'd rather dump it on you, our customers, and watch you have problems so you can do our job for us. We know you'd never agree to this so we're going to trick you into it and remove the alternative so you have no choice. If you don't like it, you can buy another nav system via the Play Store, from which we will make a profit. Either way we win and you lose."

This is such a staggeringly incompetant move many people can't accept it's accidental, but think it's an intentional plot by Google to force us into buying a nav app.  If you think this is too cynical, here's the only other possibility:

"Even though this is the most popular Android app, we've handed over development to a bunch of uncontrolled junior developers who have no experience in consumer software and no idea how to communicate with customers or run beta programs. We have no control over what they do or how much harm they inflict on our users. This is either because we don't care or because we're incompetant at technical management."

It's either intentional - cynical and uncaring, or it's unintentional - incompetant and uncaring.

THE SOLUTION

If you have lost your Nav app and want it back - uninstall all updates to Maps. Maps will work better, nav will be better and reliable, and you'll have your Blue Arrow back and it's memory of previous locations. There are NO downsides to removing all Map updates. Personally, Google have lost me as far as updating goes - never again. Map info comes down dynamically, so not updating won't make your maps out of date. Be aware that many people have found that Google has changed their settings in the Play Store to update all apps automatically, overriding phone settings. You therefore also need to change your update settings inside the Play Store as well.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

The defence which will be offered is that it's a free app, so you have no reason to expect any level of service.  However, it's not a free app.  Navigation is one of the most popular uses of smartphones.  People often determine which phone to buy based on the navigation app - as you can see from the comments below.  Afterall, phone and text functionality is the same for all phones, so the only real differentiators are cameras and ancillary apps.  We pay for these phones.  Sometimes we pay the full cost, sometimes the service provider pays most of it upfront, then recovers that cost from the profit on our service charges.  Either way we pay, and we pay for the features as they were at the time we purchased the phone.  In removing functionality Google have made a material and substantial change in the service and product we paid for.  We have a commercial and moral right to a free, working nav app in our Android phones and Google has no basis on which to remove it.

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

I don't normally cover stuff like this, but the noise on the web is deafening, so the more people who spread the word, the easier it will be for Google-victims to find the solution.

Here's what people are saying inside the Google Maps product forum:

"this update has made me decide to get rid of my android phone. I will be getting the new iPhone and never going back to Android. This was the best app and the best thing about having an Android phone."

"it would appear that **** service provider  has made a deal with handset manufacturers to remove navigation on purpose to get more folks to buy the ** navigator.  why buy the cow when you get the milk for free.  wtf.  free ride  is over."

"This was the only reason to not jump to Apple, now that they ruined their navigation it will be the same on another phone.  I have been a google supporter from the beginning and now they ruined it trying to get "cute".   The main feature they removed is live traffic on your route. Before you would hit the little button on the time and your route would show up with the traffic color overlays. Nice and clean and one press. Now I have to press a button, bring up route preview, check where traffic is, then hit go back to navigation.   What a pain it is while driving.   Everything that used to take 1 or 2 buttons now takes 4 or 5."
"A truly dark day, Google deletes an App on my personal phone, without any previous warning, or notification afterward. I think my phone's been hacked or little hands deleted my FAVORITE AND NEEDED FOR WORK APP. WTH GOOGLE! Did an evil overlord take over Google? Thanks for the learning time, the time to back up all my offline app....NOT!   I'm in horror and shock!  Did MS take over Google?"

"Google needs to address this, they have gone the wrong direction with it! I have tried using it for several days now, giving it a chance to win me over, but it is absolutely a failure. Google Navigation have always been one of the best features of the Android platform, something the iPhone could never match even after all these years. This has gone the totally wrong direction, it makes my day to day activities more complicated and less intuitive. It's harder use, harder to read, harder to understand, and requires unnecessary extra steps to do simple tasks."

"Why Google changed it is beyond logic. Hey Google.... You screwed up a lot of people's navigation systems with that update. I used it everyday and all my locations were readily available with 1 click. Now it's all gone. THIS HURTS ME GOOGLE. Please don't mess with things we rely on so heavily. I HAD TO SPEND AN HOUR TYPING IN ALL MY LOCATIONS AGAIN. THANKS A LOT."

"Thank you!!!  Driving through Appalachian/ Blue Ridge.  "Updated" App. Crashed repeatedly. Every 5 mins. Completely lost without blue arrow's stable platform.  Updated version absolutely worthless! Glad I can go backwards!"

"What were they thinking? Navigation is a DRIVING app and should therefore be of minimal distraction. With the old system you simply tap the blue icon, press the large easy to see mic icon and speak your destination. The app would then take you directly to turn by turn navigation. To get there with the upgraded app you need to press maps, then the tiny hard to spot navigation icon, then "choose destination" from the hard to read menu, after that try and find the small mic icon at which point you can speak your destination. But wait, there's one more step. The route pops up and you need to find the start button and press that.  On top of all this, the light gray font on a white background is difficult to read and there are no options to change it. What happened to the easy read white on black."

"These programmers don't think things through though. In losing the Nav. program, I also lost all of my saved destinations. Now I have to reinvent the wheel."

"Google should be ashamed of releasing such garbage."

"Why did Google remove the navigation app. I loved the ability to have the app running with out going anywhere in particular. It would operate like a stand alone navigation unit , even tell me what road I was currently driving on.Now that feature is gone, why? now the only way to get navigation is to pick a destination to go to! That's dumb! I thought when you update, it is for something better. This is much worse"

"This update SUCKS!  I just happen to have been lost in the city when I discovered the was no more Navigation Grrrr!"

"I REALLY WISH that Google would stop with this S**T! GIVE ME AN OPTION!!!!! O   P   T   I   O   N   !!!! We get a phone that is loaded with all this great STUFF....then when you finally get used to everything and are now PROFICIENT with your phone and its apps....you wake up to something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!! Why not ASK us first?? There should be a LAW!! I honestly believe it is all just a SCAM!! A scam... to eventually OUTDATE our phones"

"While I am sure I can get used to Maps, I really like the functionality of Navigation better. It would have been nice to have some notification -- I got in my car to head to my destination, tried to pull up Navigation (and as noted by most all here, there was an empty slot) and wasted time finding Maps and trying to figure out how to enter my destination.  Halfway through my ride, I lost my signal, and the application quit. There was no "searching for GPS" that usually occurs. When I got a signal again I had to restart Maps, then when I tapped on my recent destination, I was inadvertently rerouted back home. (What can I say, I don't know the area I was in and have come to rely on Navigation to get me where I need to go). So, after wasting more time back-tracking because of Maps I missed the event I was trying to get to. As another example, I could previously speak my destination or scroll through my contacts to get me there. I just tried to navigate to McDonalds, and previously I received several location options (with an address)... this time, using maps, I was immediately directed to a McDonalds 2+ hours away.  Really Google?"

108 Responses to “Google messes up Android navigation”

  1. Pete Puck says:

    It's integrated in the Maps app....it's not gone.

    • Salmax says:

      Google sucks! Maps crashes all the time. No way to turn off nav once engaged. Sucks battery dry. You can't even tell that the app is still running in the background. This "Update" has caused more problems and lost appointments for me in the last month than I can to talk about.

    • BF says:

      No , IT IS DEFINETLY NOT !!1 What teh hell are YOU ?Thunking ??

    • Ruth Maddison says:

      Thank you SO much for this informative and absolutely helpful post. I've been going mad in a new city. Such a simple resolve! And now my 'inner voice' is talking to me again. I used to love Google & now there are so many reason why I hate Google.
      Again, thank you. Clear, precise, & the fix works.

  2. Reid says:

    the blue arrow (Navigator) is still there. it was merged with Maps app.

  3. Alan Rainha says:

    The Navigation app was the deciding point between an I phone an Android. I find this so annoying, I will likely get an Apple for my next phone.

    In protest, I have also started using Mozilla instead of Chrome, Bing instead of Google search and will avoid every Google app possible. This is an amazing blunder for a company with Google's reputation for quality customer products !

  4. CRAIG SEDLAY says:

    Over or maybe under educated MF idiots. Trying to find a way to screw with peoples lifes. I thought I did something wrong to loose navigator!

  5. Gerry says:

    So disappointed with Google for removing my app. Bye google its been nice...NOT

  6. Henrik says:

    Does any body know how to prevent my phone from downloading the next android release? I'm afraid that a new version will prevent me from "fixing the problems" by uninstalling the Maps app updates?

  7. steve gill says:

    Incredible to see this kind of screw up. After Apple screwed up maps And Google had a clear advantage now they screwed it all up. As an iPad user the only thing keeping me from switching to iPhone was Google Nav.

    I am ordering my iPhone today. How did this get such gifted college students who grew so fast become so in confidence and arrogant?

    Google nav app was a stroke of genius so easy to use.

    The Nav interface was i a redibl

  8. B Lynn says:

    I've noticed that since the update, my phone has been glitching and running really slowly (Razr Maxx). I restored Maps to the original factory setting and disabled Auto-update from the Play store. My phone is back to running smoothly (very coincidental if it didn't have anything to do with it) AND I have my blue arrow back. Believe me I tried using the maps app last night, it kept freezing and I meandered around going in the general correct direction, until I found my own way home. I'm not opposed to change, I'm opposed to changes that suck.

  9. sharknado says:

    Wow...that's a lotta hate for the googles. Not a fan of the article for the writer. Not enough research And too quick to judge.

    • BF says:

      REALLY ? You said allot of absolutely NOTHING.. Back up your statements Mr. Google Jr.

    • Solaris says:

      Well, this 'unrefined and quick to judge' writer just made my day. I also was hit by this shitty update hard and I didn't know what to do. Then I read this and it worked like magic as I didn't think at all to such an elementary and practical solution like 'unistalling updates'. Well you'd call it dumb elementary like anyone could find such a solution with a bit of thinking. But when you're in a panic, thinking straight isn't easy to do at all. I couldn't figure it out too.

      That's really little to add. Google flunked this royally and will pay the price.

  10. Jonathan Holman says:

    Here's the skinny. When I needed navigation for a family trip I expected google to be there. Simply put it was not. The maps update caused the phone to reboot sporadically and often leaving me with no further driving directions. Google, if your search teams come across this, you can contact me, find the profile that has check ins at Myrtle beach on 7/27. you left me lost with a useless map application.

  11. deb says:

    Everyone says "it's still there, just another click away on Maps" but when I'm driving, I don't need "another click". Also, today I pulled into a bank parking lot (hoping if someone mugged me there would be a camera somewhere to see it), tried to find the icon on maps, never could find the darn thing. When I finally got to where I could enter destination (no idea how I got there), it wanted my starting address. Hello, I'm lost. I kind of need you to find me and give me directions to my destination. Yeah, I am no tech geek for sure, and I am possitive anyone of these other posters could have managed but I'm kind of old, so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Yeah, my next car will have navigation. But thanks for the tip. I did uninstall the updates tonight and the Nav tool came right back. Thanks.

  12. Robby says:

    I am in real estate and it was quite embarrassing to be late while meeting a client due to the changes without warning. What a POS to be treated this way. It was one of the best apps that I used daily getting around Houston. QUESTION: I have a Note 2, how does one someone reset Google maps to its original factory settings to get the Icon back and operating as before.

  13. Tomas says:

    With old version I really appreciated the ability to search Maps (for local services) WHILE Navigation was programmed and running. This gave me the ability to search for local restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, etc. without disrupting the ongoing Navigation. Now with the new version I haven't found a way to do this hence during a trip I am forced to quit navigation in order to search maps. Doing this multiple times during a trip gets tedious. Additionally quitting navigation during a trip creates the risk of not being able to load my driving directions again when I out of data range. Since the old version didn't require quitting navigation to search for local services, once my driving directions were loaded I could be sure that I would not need to download them again for the rest of my trip. An additional gripe: I can't seem to find a way to add new layers (other than the presets, traffic, etc). Used to be able to add any search term as a layer. Please return the superior functionality of the old version to us!....

  14. Sam says:

    I am usually the first to complain about big changes, but I can't tell the difference in the navigation side.

    It did break my hardware search and menu buttons, hopefully they fix that soon. Not all phones are like the Nexus line and have the buttons on screen.

  15. GD says:

    The old bait and switch. Maps sucks and they want $ for it. Oh gee what a surprise, another way of getting us to pay after we are used to a certain feature. I lost local also. I wonder what app is next.

  16. Thao Tran says:

    Not happy. Tried to use it last night. The maps didn't load up after 15 minutes. Tried to use Google Maps but the same issue. Tried with GPS settings on and off. If itonly worked. The GPS is the only reason why i chose the Note 2 over the iPhone.
    Thank you for the advice, followed it and i got my blue arrow back. Except now theres a disclaimer of the version is BETA.

  17. Andrew H. says:

    Took an internet search to figure out what had happened to the Nav icon this morning. Fair enough, lets see what it looks like. Not impressed, as I now have to re-learn the interface. Well, hopefully it at least still works. Routed to a restaurant on the other side of town. Immediate fail, as it had me going all the way around the block to the secondary entrance to my neighborhood, when the main entrance is 50 yards away. They exit onto the same road, so there's no advantage whatsoever to using the other. If I can't trust it with getting me out of my own neighborhood, how am I supposed to trust it on a vacation across the country. I sent a report, and requested a response when the issue was resolved. Until then, I'll likely use the above info to revert my phone to the previous version. Suddenly releasing a beta to an incredibly popular and often used app with no real issues to speak of is something I just cant fathom. Hope it doesn't end up causing people to have to be rescued like the Apple Navigator did last year.

  18. Lew Baum says:

    Brandt,

    I am glad to see someone publishing a thoughtful piece on this incredibly arrogant/incompetent situation.

    - This app was part of the phone I paid $250 for and over $100 per month.

    - I rely on this app, and when I went to use it while travelling, it wasn't there.

    - The replacement UI is buggy, gives poor directions and does not find local businesses, and DOES NOT remember my destinations in Navigator. And it takes time to learn the new UI.

    - It does have some nice new features, and I would have been OK to be given advance notice and a choice. The argument that it is the same program is ridiculous. It is not the same UI, and even if it worked perfectly, it would take time to learn. Has Google not heard of "change control?"

    - This is not the first time. The Jelly Bean upgrade made my Wifi router stop working with the phone. They changed the WiFi stack. They claimed it doesn't work because my router is old, but my router works with a brand new printer (and the phone works with other routers). The point is, it worked until unannounced and undocumented, they implemented a new stack that they KNEW or SHOULD have known broke Wifi for many people. The reason I say this, is that the issue was reported in the beta forum for Jelly Bean in the summer of 2012. They just chose not to fix it.

    -Another example is taking away the elapsed time and the progressive alarm. I agree with an earlier comment, “What can they be thinking?”

    I will definitely be restoring navigator and I will turn off automatic updates as best I can. These two incidents have caused me to loose trust in Google, Android and Verizon. I have not been happy with the shallow level of feature integration in Android; in many respects my previous Blackberry phone was easier to use and more powerful. But the serial capricious treatment of customers is too much. I don’t care about their commercial model; I did not expect nor agree to be treated like this when I bought the phone and the service.

    While I will surely look for a platform and vendors with better quality and support when it comes time to upgrade, I believe that the solution here is probably not competition. It seems that Verizon either didn’t care, didn’t test, or can’t control Google. A step in the right direction may be legislation that limits the right of vendors to upgrade firmware and remove significant features on customer-owned devices without advance notice and customer agreement.

  19. Matt Webb says:

    the illusion of choice

  20. dan says:

    Another atrocious aspect...the app forces me to turn on my web search history. First thing I did when I got my gmail was to turn that off. Its no bodys business what I search for. Google stores my searches already anyway but I don't need some third party snooper looking at my search history. But guess what...crappy nav won't work unless I turn my web search history back on. Eff that. I'll actually go ahead and root my phone to roll back nav if I gotta b4 I turn search history back on

  21. Ed says:

    You realize you can just use google now and speak your destination. They basically integrated many google services into one. Not sure it was the smartest move without any pr first.

    • Skip says:

      No. Incorrect. Not all destinations are common businesses; voice does NOT connect to the addressbook. They advertise in the latest update faster access to nav? MANY more clicks. Uninstalling to go back to the working version.

    • Marilyn says:

      I have tried using the "speak to google"...it does NOT WORK as efficiently as the old voice command navigation I had.

      The latter could always find me, and offer me the business that was closest to my current location. The former brings up every single branch of a business known to man, and generally the first on the list is halfway across the country from me.

      This is NOT an improvement over what I had. And, as others have said, it no longer reconnects to the route I was on if my signal gets lost. I have to start over. When I am driving through the mountains, I don't want to be pulling off the road every 5 miles in order to re-program my navigator.

      None of what they did is okay with me.

  22. Colton says:

    Big whoop, I never used the app shortcut, I always got to it by typing my directions in maps then using the by navigator button in the directions menu.

    • Edward says:

      All of you "big whoop" guys don't understand. We lost the ability to go to the navigation view without having to type in some destination. I don't need turn by turn directions whenever I drive somewhere. I just want to see the next road I'm approaching along with traffic conditions. The compass view is similar but doesn't work as well.

  23. Ruth Ann Parker says:

    I thought maybe I had somehow accidentally deleted the app! This sucks! That was definitely one of the betterfeatures of my phone and a definite help. To remove the app without informing the customer! Wow, ehatever happened to customer service?!

  24. Robert Kleven says:

    I truly depend on this app (since I weened myself off of Garmin)...I figured the new system out pretty quickly, but it shows my location way off track quite often and crashes constantly. Once it crashes it will just keep crashing each time you try that same destination (while out on the road driving) and eventually I just have to reboot the phone. I guess I will pull over a few more times. I too am losing a little faith in Google.... I also have a beef with not being able to turn my gmail off of "conversation mode" on my phone... truly annoying.

  25. dcn8v says:

    I'm a little late to this party, but that new navigation app is AWFUL. It is hard to use while driving (I know, I know, but when do you need the map app most?) It doesn't store my previous searches, the voice option is horrid, and most of all, it's just confusing. Just the worst forced change I've ever experienced. What in the world could they have been thinking?! Thank goodness I found this article and learned that I could uninstall the update and go back to my beloved old version. Google, this was a really, really, bad decision. Shame on whoever green-lighted this.

  26. Dave says:

    The problem I am having is that on the navigation your car icon is now "driving" the actual direction your are going (n,s,e,w) so it is very confusing if you look at the map and have to turn. much easier when you were always just going "forward". Any idea if it's possible to get that setting back?

    • Christine says:

      I know on the old version you click the compass icon and it will flip back and forth between north facing forward or your car facing forward.

  27. kathy says:

    Thanks so much for the solution to getting MY little blue arrow back........ i did it.... and it works again,,,,,,,,, just like you said better than ever....... i hated using the maps after losing the arrow to the navigation.... such a pain in my you know what.... smiling now.

  28. TJ says:

    I was getting ready to dust off my old car-mounted GPS because I can't safely use the new interface while driving - it is too distracting. Also agree with the way your position is displayed, and it seems to cache less time, so when the signal hiccups, you get no more directions.
    I held my breath and did the "uninstall all updates" for the "Maps" application, and POOF! I had a Navigation icon in the applications list and the old interface. Whew - thanks!

  29. Laura Krauss says:

    The navigation app was one of the features that I love the most from my android phone, what Google did is stupid and does not make sense, instead of making things easier for the customers they make it complicated or actually impossible….having the navigation through the Maps SUCKS, it’s no safe for the driver as the screen is complicated to understand, therefore there will be more accidents in the road just from people trying to figure how to navigate with this crappy map app. GOOGLE on behalf of Apple thank you for opening a new market for IPhones as there will be less people buying Androids.

  30. ains says:

    Simply put the new navigation suck..

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