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Google messes up Android navigation

Google messes up Android navigation Brandt Dainow

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.


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 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.


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?"

Brandt is an independent web analyst, researcher and academic.  As a web analyst, he specialises in building bespoke (or customised) web analytic reporting systems.  This can range from building a customised report format to creating an...

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