GPS For Bad Spellers
I’ll admit that I’m a terrible speller. But what does this have to do with GPS? Some devices are friendlier than others when it comes to spelling mistakes. Some require you to have the correct spelling to find an address while other devices tend to be more helpful. While picking a GPS device based on how “bad speller friendly” it is might not be practical, it is worth noting that some devices could be less frustrating than others. Let’s take a look at the major GPS brands (and a few websites) to compare how spelling strict they might be.
For the test we’ll take a look at one address that might be spelled incorrectly, and see how each device performs. The address we will use is “1 Allerton Street, Boston, MA”. That is the correct spelling, we will try to find that address by spelling Allerton “Alerton” which is something you might do if you only hear someone read the address to you or if you miss the second “l”. Here are the results, in alphabetical order.
The Garmin devices did not find Allerton after searching “Alerton”, resulting in “No Matches Found”. Spelling “Alerto” resulted in no matches found. “Alert” resulted in no matches found. “Aler” gave me no matches found. “Ale” gave me Alexander St. Finally by going back and only typing in “Al” it did complete the search and allowed me to locate Allerton by scrolling through the 60 streets in Boston which start with “Al”.
On The LG models, after typing in “Ale” it offers Alexander St. Then you go back and type in “Al” and you can scroll through the 67 or so results to find Allerton on the list.
The Lowrance models told me “no matches found” after typing in “Ale”. This is interesting because it didn’t suggest Alexander Street like the other devices did. But anyway I then typed in “Al” and let it search. Most of the other devices then restrict to streets which being with the letter combination you typed in. The Lowrance model included any streets which had “al” in the name. I didn’t count the number of streets in that group of search results because it was so large, however they were sorted alphabetically so I could scroll through the approximately 65 streets beginning with “Al”.
Many Magellan devices have a feature called QuickSpell which helps prevent you from making spelling mistakes and can make data entry faster. After typing in part of the address the onscreen keyboard will eliminate letters which are no longer possible as part of any spelling combinations of street names. After typing in “Ale” the system realized that the only combination of those letters was “Alexander St”. Since that wasn’t my destination I knew fairly quick I had made a spelling error. Therefore I had a clue as to where my spelling mistake might have occurred. By typing in “Al” I was able to scroll through the list of 64 addresses to find the Allerton I was looking for.
The Mio devices perform almost the exact same way as the Magellan devices. There is a feature similar to QuickSpell which eliminates letters no longer possible based on what you have already typed in. After typing in “Ale” it found Alexander St. Therefore I clicked back and just typed in “Al” which allowed me to scroll through the list of 74 streets matching “Al” in Boston.
The TomTom device performs a search and displays the top three search results as you type. After selecting the city and state, I typed in “Alert” and “Allerton” was right there in the number two position of the search results. You might not even know you’ve made a spelling error and just click on the correct street name at that point. I never had to go back and retype in anything, or guess at where the spelling mistake might have been made.
I have a few GPS devices from other brands kicking around, most of those use the same navigation software as the Mio devices, therefore I won’t repeat those results here.
Google Maps gave me “Did you mean Allerton St?” so they pass with flying colors. MSN Maps gave me “Your search resulted in a close match” and listed Allerton St so they pass as well. Yahoo Maps told me the address couldn’t be found, but here is a map of the whole city… Not very helpful. Likewise with MapQuest, they couldn’t find the street but offered a map showing all of Boston.
The TomTom devices were by far the most user friendly when it comes to spelling errors in address entry. The “live” search results while typing in letters plus the ability to search for closest matches gives those devices top honors among bad spellers.
The Magellan and Mio devices were the next best. While they didn’t provide as intelligent of search results, they were quick in notification that there were no more combinations of street names matching the spelling I had typed in so far.
Surprisingly, the Garmin devices were the least friendly when it comes to poor spelling. They let me spell out “Alerton” entirely without giving me any indication there were no results for that letter combination in the city I was looking in. Without that indication I had no idea how far back my spelling error might have been I had to keep experimenting with dropping off one letter at a time before I started to see results.
Most of the time people navigate to an address I suspect they do so while looking at a printed address. It might come from a website, a printed brochure, or a magazine. Therefore spelling mistakes might not be common. But also consider that it is sometimes difficult to tap out those letters on tiny GPS screens and you might not notice you have struck the wrong key. Additionally, if you are entering an address based on an address someone is verbally telling you, that might be a place where you may be more likely to make a spelling mistake.