I’ll be testing the new Send to Place feature in Google Maps over the next few weeks to see how it works with my Joyride Guru day trip maps, hopefully to implement in my next drive in the series, a trip to the mountain town of Julian, Calif.
In case you haven’t used a Send to Place system, it allows you to select a location and then send it to your car’s in-dash GPS system or your in-phone Google Maps app.
What’s good about this? I used it on vacation a few years back in my MINI Countryman, using the then-active Send to Car feature in Google Maps. When I bought the Countryman in 2013, BMW/MINI and several other automakers had a deal with Google to support the Send to Car feature. Traveling through the back roads of Colorado, I set up destinations along the way that created a route through the best twisting mountain passes. I set up multiple places to create a route; the places weren’t always spots where I wanted to stop, but were there to create the route.
Sounds simple enough but it’s not something that can be easily done with in-dash systems or on the smartphone apps for either Google or Mapquest without the ability to map it outside the car. Garmin tells me it can be done with its system, but I haven’t bought a Garmin for a decade.
GPS systems are designed to get to your destination in the quickest possible way with only a few choices — generally only “avoid highways” or “avoid tolls.” So, if I take my Crazy Couser drive, which runs from the Deer Park Winery and Auto Museum to the oh-too-good burgers at Nessy Burger, my MINI GPS system and the Google Map app on my smart phone will send me up I-15. If I select “avoid highways,” it will route me up Old Highway 395, which is a fun run in itself, but I would miss Couser Canyon Road and other gems of twisting roads.
It does take a bit of extra work picking addresses and locations to convince the GPS that your route isn’t the quickest from point to point, but the result is great. A day of driving on the roads you want with the car or smartphone telling you where you want to go.
By the way, I guess I can take credit for Google turning on this feature, and why not? Last November I went to the Connected Car Expo in LA just to talk with map folks about this feature, which had disappeared from the MINI Connected app in an early 2014 update (even though it still shows as available on the Google Maps send-to-car list). I met a guy from Google who was demonstrating the new Android Auto system in Hyundai’s latest models. I had a few minutes to chat with him about the demise of the Send to Car, and how there was no similar feature on the Google Maps app. Voila… seven months later, here it is.
Stay tuned for more information.