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Where am I?


No, not me personally– I’m still right here. But The “Where am I?” function on GPS devices has been a cause of confusion lately, so we are here (right where the GPS says we are) to clear up this commonly confused function.

What it Isn’t

Where am I function on TomTom GPSThe “Where am I?” function is not the function that will find the nearest Restaurant or the nearest Starbucks. Those are POIs, Points of Interest. Most every auto GPS on the market today has that function.

So what is ‘Where am I?’

Where am I function on Garmin GPSSimply put, it answers that very question– it tells you where you are right now. It doesn’t tell you where something else it, it tells you where you are. So why would you want this? In the case of an emergency you would likely want to tell emergency personnel or a tow truck where you are. Knowing your coordinates is nice, but this function tries to give your location in a more “readable” format for those without a GPS. For example it might say you are on “Main Street between Maple Avenue and Pine Road” or that the closest address to you is “1200 Spruce Terrace”.

Where am I function with Locations on Garmin GPSThis function will also typically provide you with quick access to certain POIs, such as nearby hospitals, police, gas stations, or car service locations.

GPS manufacturers have been talking up this feature over the past few months, and while it is convenient to have, GPS devices will almost always have a way to browse the map, center in, and zoom in on your position where you could find the same information yourself. The ‘Where am I?’ function simply automates that task for you, and places related functions (such as looking up the nearest hospital) in one convenient location. In an emergency, convenience is great to have, but I wouldn’t stress over a purchase of a GPS that doesn’t have this function as you can likely find the same information without it.

Update: One of our forum users posts a cautionary tale about the Where am I feature and offers this warning

6 Responses

  1. I am sure that the where am I would be useful, in fact my car broke down the other day and I did not know the exact address (just the fact I was in a mcdonalds car park).
    My GPS was in my car – but I did not even think to select the ‘help me’ option which contains the where am i? (Maybe because I am a guy and guys never need help 🙂 )
    But know I know it is there and how to use it….

    Chris - June 27th, 2008
  2. Hi,

    I have a Nuvi-780 (Firmware, V3.0; Map, 2009-NT), and the “where am I” is usually way off!!!

    One example. My work is on a corner of a “main st” and and “A road.” Our address is on the “main St.”
    A GPS serch, shows us on the, “main st.”
    However, It shows me on “A-Rd,” and on the other side of the road? And the nearest cross street is almost a mile a way, on a road not intersecting, either two mentioned Streets or Roads???
    (I made up the road names)

    Bruce - July 3rd, 2008
  3. I note in a previous comment re Nuvi 650 versus the Nuvi 260, noting that the 260 would have a newer data base (maps). Is this true ? How can one know what data base he’s got ?

    eugene - August 25th, 2008
  4. Tim, are you a Garmin employee, or do you represent them in some way ?

    eugene - August 25th, 2008
  5. I am considering purchase of the next CD update for my Nuvi 650. Do you know when this will come to stores ? How does one learn what’s new, what’s on it ?

    eugene - August 25th, 2008
  6. I am not a Garmin employee and do not represent them in any way. I’m completely independent from them. You can read more about that on my ethics page.

    You can check the map version by going to tools -> settings -> map -> map info.

    Garmin has previously released new maps around the end of April, or early May… annually. While that might change in the future, the best guess is that the next maps would come out again in late April or early May of 2009.

    Tim - August 25th, 2008

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