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How Australians Navigate: Mobile vs. In-built GPS

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When satellite navigation or GPS systems were introduced into cars 25 years ago, drivers soon realised their benefits as they took the stress out of planning journeys.

They seemed a great alternative to the road map. But now as well as in-built car navigation systems, people can also use their mobile device for navigation by downloading apps.

Here at Carzoos we asked nearly 1,400 Australians both female and male and aged between 18 to 65+, whether they’d prefer to use a mobile device or an in-built car GPS to guide themselves on unknown roads.

Australian Driver GPS Preference

Australian Driver GPS Preference

Top reason for drivers navigating with a mobile device was functionality

60% of those surveyed preferred to use a mobile device compared to just 22.5% wanting to use an in-built GPS. The majority stated this was because ease of use rather than safety. Millennials aged from 18 to 24 were those most likely to use mobile app navigation devices.

Reasons Australians Navigate with a Mobile Device

Reasons Australians Navigate with a Mobile Device

A spokesperson for App Annie, which analyses apps and digital goods, said these findings were to be expected. 

“Google Maps is the most used android app in Australia. The navigation app WAZE for iOS saw an increase in monthly active users grow by 90% between January and May of this year (2017). Apps provide an improved customer experience all around,” they said. 

These views were also shared by a spokesperson for mobile app developer Sygic, Daniela Vunhu, who said they offered more benefits.

“Smartphones are portable, if someone gets out of their car, they can carry their mobile phone in their hand and get further directions as they walk. Remember users can get fresh maps in a few clicks without any additional investments,” she said. 

“But with in-built car GPS systems it is more complicated.”

Car buyers want embedded GPS technology

Our survey showed that that many felt using a mobile device for navigation was far easier to understand than an in-built GPS.

Andrew McLaughlan is the Technologies Automotive Director for HERE, which provides mapping data solutions.

"We are increasingly reliant on our mobiles, whether it be for accessing and interacting with email, music and social media, as a replacement for cash or even as a boarding pass for a flight," he said.

"So, it’s of little surprise that with the vast array of transport options available these days, commuters expect a single location solution to address their needs when travelling from A-to-B; a mobile-based navigation app is undoubtedly a convenient tool. 

"That’s why HERE Technologies offers the HERE WeGo app, a user-friendly platform built precisely for urban mobility...and of course vehicle navigation."

But Mr McLaughlan added that embedded navigation systems within cars are the future.

“A survey last year showed that 85% of consumers looking to buy vehicles rated in-car navigation as a top desired feature. 48% of cars in the US currently have embedded navigation which is up 30% from five years ago. I believe that eventually all cars will have embedded navigation,” he explained.

“For example, the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class ADAS leverages embedded HERE map attributes like road curvature, incline and exit ramps to enable autonomous adjustment of the vehicle’s speed (both braking and acceleration). This ‘electronic horizon’ allows the vehicle to know what is coming beyond the range of the vehicle sensors (and the driver) and dramatically improve the driving experience and safety."

Updating maps on in-built car GPS systems is more complicated

Our survey also revealed that older drivers are more likely than younger people to use an in-car GPS system, but overall, they still prefer their mobile navigation devices.

Australian Driver GPS Preference by Age

Australian Driver GPS Preference by Age

“Technology is disrupting traditional generation-based assumptions,” outlined Andrew McLaughlan HERE Technologies Automotive Director. 

“There are currently 17 million smartphone users in Australia, that’s 70% of the total population, so it’s not surprising to see a preference for mobile technology across all age groups.”

“My assumption is that map freshness is a pain point. Every day the world changes and keeping a map up to date is no easy task. Many automotive companies now offer complimentary map updates as part of a scheduled service program and I think that will go a long way to redress the balance.”

Carzoos is backed by the AP Eagers Group, a Queensland based automotive retail powerhouse that has been helping Aussies get mobile since 1913. 

Download the survey data here.