How to Use the Android Tablet as a Navigator

Your Android tablet can do many things, as well as act as navigator. Finding something is only half the job. The other half is getting there, or sending someone else there, if it’s an unpleasant place. Your Android tablet is ever-ready, thanks to the various direction and navigation features nestled in the Maps app.

If you use your tablet in your auto, someone else should hold it and read the directions. Or use voice navigation and, for goodness sake, don’t look at the tablet while you’re driving!

Getting directions

One command associated with locations found in the Maps app deals with getting directions. The command is called Route, and it shows either the Route icon (see the margin) or a mode of transportation, such as a car, bike, or bus. Here’s how it works:

  1. Touch the Route icon on a location’s card.

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  2. Choose a method of transportation.

    The available options vary, depending on your location. The items are (from left to right) Car, Public Transportation, Bicycle, and On Foot.

  3. Set a starting point.

    You can type a location or choose from one of the locations shown on the screen, such as your current location, home location, or any location you’ve previously searched. Touch the Starting Location item to choose another location.

  4. Ensure that the starting location and destination are what you want.

    If they’re backward, touch the Swap icon.

  5. Choose a route card.

    One or more routes are listed on the screen. One card is shown, which indicates the adventure’s duration of 4 hours and 14 minutes.

  6. Peruse the results.

The map shows your route, highlighted as a blue line on the screen. Detailed directions also appear.

  • The Maps app alerts you to any toll roads on the specified route. As you travel, you can choose alternative, non-toll routes, if available. You’re prompted to switch routes during navigation.

  • The blue line appears only on the tablet screen, not on streets in the real world.

  • You may not get perfect directions from the Maps app, but it’s a useful tool for places you’ve never visited.

Navigating to your destination

To use navigation, obey these steps:

  1. Choose a location on the map.

    It must be a spot other than your current location. You can search for a spot, type a location, or long-press any part of the map.

  2. Choose a card from the search results.

    This process works identically to finding any location.

  3. Touch the Route icon.

    The Route icon can look like the icon shown in the margin, though most often it looks like a car.

  4. Ensure that My Location is chosen on the next screen.

    If you don’t see My Location, touch the top entry where it should be, and then choose the My Location item from the next screen.

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  5. Choose a card representing the route you want to take.

    Sometimes, only one card is available, though others may appear. The variety depends upon traffic conditions, toll roads, zombie attacks, and similar things you might want to avoid.

  6. Touch the Start icon.

    And you’re on your way.

While you’re navigating, the tablet displays an interactive map that shows your current location and turn-by-turn directions for reaching your destination. A digital voice tells you how far to go and when to turn, for example, and gives you other nagging advice, such as to sit up, be nice to other drivers, and call your mother once in a while.

To exit navigation, touch the Close icon at the bottom of the screen.

  • The neat thing about tablet navigation is that whenever you screw up, a new course is immediately calculated.

  • When you tire of hearing the navigation voice, touch the Action Overflow icon and choose the command Mute Voice Guidance.

  • The tablet stays in Navigation mode until you exit. The Navigation notification can be seen atop the touchscreen while you’re in Navigation mode.

  • While navigating with the tablet, touch the Action Overflow icon and choose Step By Step List to review your journey. The Route Preview command lets you see the big picture.

  • In Navigation mode, the Android tablet consumes a lot of battery power. It’s a good idea to plug the tablet into your car’s power adapter (cigarette lighter) for the duration of the trip. Any Android cell phone power adapter works, or any adapter with a micro-USB connector.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to build up the tablet’s address book is to create a contact from an e-mail message. Follow these general steps when you receive a message from someone not already in your Android tablet’s address list:

  1. Touch either the contact’s name in the From field or the picture by the contact’s name at the top of the message.

    The contact’s name or picture is really a menu, as shown by the Action Bar icon. It’s your clue that a menu exists.

  2. Choose whether to create a contact or add the e-mail address to an existing contact:

    • For an existing contact: Scroll through the address book to choose the contact. The e-mail address is added to that contact.

    • For a new contact: Fill in the rest of the contact’s information on the New Contact screen or Add Contact screen. Building the contact works just like creating a contact from scratch, though the e-mail address and, potentially, the person’s name is already available.

  3. Touch the OK, Done, or Save button to create the contact.

If you accidentally create a contact when you already have that contact, you can join the two.

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