WP7 Mango: tap-by-turn voice guidance a necessary evil

As PocketNow noted in their Windows Phone Mango preview, the new and much anticipated turn-by-turn feature in Bing Maps has a big asterisks that most people are probably not aware of – it requires constant tapping of the screen to activate voice guidance of the next turn.

No, this is not a bug, and no, Microsoft isn’t trying to distract you while driving. What it looks to be is an artificial but necessary evil put in place to not breach a certain licensing restriction with Bing Maps, the provider of the routing data. The public Microsoft Bing Maps Platform API’s terms of use states,

Restrictions on your use: We do have some restrictions on your use of the service. You may not:

– present or alert an end user to individual maneuvers of a route in any way that is synchronized with the end-user’s sensor-based position along the route, (e.g. “real-time” navigation);

Whilst it’s understandable some terms of use restrictions can be exempt for intra-company groups, in this case it’s probably a licensing restriction by Microsoft’s map data provider NAVTEQ. Obviously Microsoft’s recent partnership with Nokia (who owns NAVTEQ but operates it separately) will shake up the licensing agreement but it’s doubtful it will take effect before Mango ships later this year.

Until then, the workaround the Windows Phone team has implemented is simple and effective. Tap the screen anywhere to hear the next turn. Audio alerts will also prompt when you’ve made a correct and incorrect turn. Having said that, users should still be wary of local traffic laws which may disallow any interactions with the device while driving.

27 insightful thoughts

  1. I actually don’t mind it. Can’t tell you how many times i’ve been interrupted while talking to my wife, or somebody on the phone, by the GPS butting in and talking to me. I can look @ the screen and get the info just the same, and often am doing that w/ a normal “auto” turn-by-turn anyway.
    Granted, I’ve yet to use this feature on my Mango dev phone, but really don’t see myself minding it too much.

    1. I actually gave this one a try today while driving. I have to say, this “feature” is annoying to say the very least. Having to constantly tap the screen after every turn/intersection is a major distraction while driving.

      In addition, one thing I’ve noticed is that it will only speak aloud the directions after you tap it, which makes this kind of counter-intuitive when it says something like “In 3km, turn right onto XX road” without alerting you again when you’re actually at the intersection to turn. Am I meant to keep track of the 3km I’ve driven?

      1. Precisely why this is annoying. If it went “boing” and you had to tap to hear the voice, it’d be fine. Annoying, but fine. But having to remember when a turn is coming up so you can tap the screen? I’m using sat nav precisely -because- I don’t have to remember when a turn is coming up.

  2. Deal breaker. How am I supposed to pay attention to the road if I constantly have to tap the screen to hear if a turn is coming up?

    This is ridiculous.


    1. Yes, I concur. To the other faboy girls here licking MS’s ASS. GET FUCKIN REAL. This is the biggest crock of lying ass shit I have ever heard. MS are a bunch of fuckin liars.

  4. Here’s some common workarounds for this particular limitation of WP7 Mango devices:

    * iPhone
    * Android
    * BlackBerry

  5. Something doesn’t add up here. As mentioned, Bing on other platforms already supports automatic vocalizing of turn-by-turn directions.

  6. Microsoft have been causing us evils with every product, software and hardware they have ever launched! My first nightmare with them was in 1988 with MS-DOS 5x and Windows ME and Windows Vista subsquently made me even more disgruntled. To sign my petition to help convince Microsoft to add a little more pizaz to their future products, visit http://www.primark.co.uk

  7. If a third party made a maps application, would this apply to them? Say someone made an app based on OpenStreetMap – Can that use background audio to do alerts even if the app isn’t in the foreground? Would that need to be tapped (I would assume no, since it’s a different map provider)?

      1. The restriction is only to do with Bing Maps. Garmin’s app uses their own map source.

      2. Bing on WIndows Mobile delivers with turn-by-turn voice; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BJlv6doAJY&feature=player_embedded#at=125, so I am unsure why it suddenly became an issue with Bing on Windows Phone. Whatever the case may be, end users care less how they achieve it, if they have to license it then they should because they do collect royalties for their patents too. I don’t want a GPS “app” that is not integrated with my user experience. Try reading the Garming navigator review; after you search and find where you need to go on Bing, it does not carry over to Garmin because it is an “app”. Its simply cr-“app”. This is ridiculous.

  8. Something doesn’t add up here. As mentioned, Bing on other platforms already supports automatic vocalizing of turn-by-turn directions.
    Thanks for post..

  9. Pure speculations. Tapping isn’t needed in the final version of Mango, believe me 🙂

    1. Why should we believe you? Do you have any further info, or is it just because you think it won’t happen?

  10. wow, sounds absolutely crazy having to interact with the device while driving. Great way to get in an accident or get a ticket.

  11. So i guess that’s one nice thing about nokia. their ovi maps will fix that limitation and gets integrated into all wp7 devices in the future.

  12. I thought it would be annoying at first just like everyone else, but I’ve been using it since the beta was released and I vastly prefer it to auto. I’d much rather have the phone TELL me what is coming up next when I want to, than have to READ it on my GPS or wait for it to tell me whenever it chooses. There are many times when I want to make sure I have time to get in the correct lane for an exit or a turn but I’m not close enough for the GPS’s auto reminder to kick in. Furthermore, some of the street names/directions in a step are so long that by the time it gets done telling me the whole direction I’ve forgot or missed something for some reason.

    With the tap I can do it as many times as I want to make sure I heard everything and know if I need to start thinking about getting over soon. This is safer/faster than me trying to read my GPS.

    I really hope this stays in the final, and I hope everyone else that wants auto turn by turn gets it too. This doesn’t need to be an either or, it can be both.

    1. Automatic notification is a must, whethe they add “tap to repeat last voice direction” as an option is up to them but the former is essential for most people.

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