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The Computer Corner: Driving with ‘Chatty Cathy’ in Houston, Texas

This week it is not with great pleasure that my sister and I have spent hours driving hundreds of miles on Houston, Texas freeways where the average speed is 45 miles per hour: that is half the time 15 mph, the other half 75 mph, and rarely anything in between.

Not knowing the city well, we have relied on map apps in cell phones with voice narration in order to get around.  The calm voice announces “keep left” or “in 300 feet turn right” or “stalled vehicle ahead.” We named her “Chatty Cathy.”

Combining the Global Positioning System (GPS) with databases of street maps allows modern cell phones to let you concentrate on driving while being guided to your destination.  I am sure that is how the system works most of the time, but my first experience using the technology in the high-pressure situation of navigating an unfamiliar city was not without its issues. I also had the opportunity for a week to use Android and Apple phones side by side to see how they compared. They were comparable.

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