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 MS Streets and Trips, AutoRoute, and MapPoint
 What's New Streets & Trips 2006 / AutoRoute 2006
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 22 sept. 2005 :  00:00:51  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
What's new in

MS Streets & Trips 2006 / MS AutoRoute 2006






I will venture to say that most of us have purchased an item or two in our lives based on an advertised feature, but later we realized the feature didn’t do what we imagined it would. That can easily happen when we judge any kind of a product based purely on the promotional material, without actually trying the product in real life. Despite of that I would still like to share “What’s New in MS Streets & Trips 2006” only based on having read the documentation (promotional material) I received yesterday. A copy of the software should be in my hands within a day or two, then I will elaborate more on new features and relevant screenshots will be included.



So what can we really expect new?

1. Voice-Prompted Directions, the most requested feature since S&T 2005 is finally becoming a reality. Now a question remains if we are going to like the voice ;-)

2. Driving Guidance Pane is a new feature and it is supposed to include text-prompted turn-by-turn directions, enlarged arrows indicating where to turn, and distance measurement as drivers get closer to their destination.

3. Dynamic Turn View is another new feature, but I’m not clear on what it does. Based on what I’m reading it could be what others call “auto-zoom”, but let’s wait till we can take the software for a drive before we jump to wrong conclusions about this one.

4. Reroute from Here feature has been modified. If I understand it correctly it will (still) not suggest a new route automatically if you deviate from the originally calculated route, but the feature will somehow notify the user that you are off route and you will have the option to recalculate a new route by a single click of a button. Hmm, I’m not sure why they haven’t implemented a fully automatic recalculate function, but I want to avoid judging it solely based on reading about it. Again, let’s wait for a test drive ;-)

5. Night Map Style should make a lot of people happy. I’m looking forward seeing it. Will it automatically change from day color scheme to night color scheme like some navigation products do? I suspect not yet, but we shell discover soon.

6. Mapping Data for the U.S. and Canada now includes more than 5.9 million miles of local, city and highway routable roads and more than 1.8 million points of interest. Hmm, 1.8 million POI’s is the same number as in 2005 version, but I do see at least a marginal increase, for example Restaurants: 571, 588 this year (550,000 last year), Gas Stations: 93,574 this year (90,700 last year), etc. The number of routable miles may be a more interesting point to ponder: 5.9 million this year versus 5.4 million last year. That’s almost 10% increase. If the numbers are accurate then I wonder where the 10% is coming from? 10% is a lot.

7. Locate Me Lost without the GPS Locator? The new Locate Me technology helps consumers who don’t have a GPS Locator determine where they are at that moment by utilizing Wi-Fi hotspots to estimate their location. We will have to see how well this feature works, and perhaps more importantly WHERE it is capable of working. I’d like to caution readers not to think they now no longer need a GPS receiver. This is a new technology, the accuracy will not be able to compete with GPS technology, and availability of service will likely be a major stumbling block.

8. The optional GPS receiver (called by Microsoft: GPS Locator) has not changed since a year ago. It is again going to be iGPS-360 by Pharos. For the sake of future purchasers of MS Streets & Trips w/ GPS Locator I hoped Microsoft would include a GPS receiver based on the new SiRFstarIII chipset. The new SiRFstarIII receivers, introduced on the market about a half a year ago, are considerably more sensitive to weak GPS signals than anything on the market previously. The included iGPS-360 is based on older SiRFstarII technology. It works, but if you are willing to spend just a little bit more money, you may buy the best that the technology has to offer today. Luckily Microsoft doesn't use a proprietary protocol, but instead it uses NMEA standard. That means you are not tied to Microsoft's own GPS receiver, but you may select from a very wide variety of GPS receivers as most GPS receivers on the market today do support NMEA protocol.

9. There is no new PocketStreets version. Included with S&T will be (free) PocketStreets 2005 (I see disappointed PDA users.)




The public release day for Streets and Trips 2006 should be in about two weeks. Some time ago I was told it would be October 4th. Some stores report they expect to have it on their shelves as soon as October 3rd, but the documentation I received yesterday indicates October 6th as the day. I’m not sure about MS AutoRoute (European Maps). If I recall correctly AR goes on sale a couple of weeks after S&T, so we will have to wait still for more accurate info.


Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada

Edited by - Marvin Hlavac on 23 sept. 2005 02:25:18

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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 22 sept. 2005 :  15:11:03  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote

CD's arrived via UPS Express :) The software installed without a glitch. It's 2CD's, as in the past.

First impressions:

Undoubtedly this 2006 version is another
important step (just like the 2005 version was)
in making S&T usable for in-car navigation.



Click to enlarge


* VOICE has finally made it to S&T. Now it is just a matter of personal taste to decide if you like the sound of text-to-speech technology. The good part is that it is not attempting to read every single word of instructions, nor is it trying to pronounce street names. That would indeed be likely too much to bear for many users. S&T will say something like: in point two kilometers turn right (Hmm, I’d prefer “200 meters” to “point two kilometers”. Many people have lived with text-to-speech for a long time, and they don’t mind it. I personally have been spoiled by my another favourite GPS navigation software (iGuidance) which uses pre-recorded real human voice. To me that is superior to TTS which may sound like a robot to some people. But any voice is better than no voice at all!


I will add more during the day as I have time (I’m at work now…)



Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada
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gpspassion

93956 Posts

Posted - 22 sept. 2005 :  15:22:10  Show Profile  Visit gpspassion's Homepage  Reply with Quote
First caps look good, so it's TTS but without street names spoken ? Might as well have used prerecorded .wav's in that case then yes.

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Discounts and Assistance/Réductions et Assistance (Club GpsPasSion) / Où commencer?
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 22 sept. 2005 :  19:24:54  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Yes, that makes sense. Another benefit of implementation of .wav files (instead of TTS) would be lower system requirements: no need for WindowsXP for the voice feature.



S&T 2005



S&T 2006


Even though here at GpsPasSion Forums we get excited about new GPS related features, very likely most people buying MS Streets and Trips will not use the software for navigation at all. Those users are looking for improvements in other areas.

S&T 05 used NavTeq, GDT, Acxiom, and Woodall's as the main map data providers. S&T 06 drops DGT and Acxiom, and interestingly starts to use TeleAtlas along NavTeq (and Woodall's).

[EDIT] Correction: An alert reader just notified me that the data provider GDT was bought by TeleAtlas. (Thanks)

Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada

Edited by - Marvin Hlavac on 23 sept. 2005 16:27:05
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dumpper

Canada
118 Posts

Posted - 22 sept. 2005 :  22:30:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
phewww ... two more weeks of drooling at the above screenshot ...
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  02:18:28  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote


Provide Driving Guidance opens/closes Driving Guidance panel under the map. It displays next driving instruction, for example Turn Left onto Whatever Avenue. Then there is the arrow icon representing the type of turn to anticipate and the distance in kilometers or miles to that turn. This is indeed needed information, but in my humble opinion the whole Driving Guidance panel is taking up too much space. Perhaps there is really no need for any special panel to display this info, but rather this could be implemented the way other GPS navigation products do it: overlay the arrow and the distance info right on the map, perhaps a top left corner would do. And instead of displaying a long sentence “Turn Left onto Whatever Avenue”, just display the street name only on the very top of the map. S&T 06 is of course better than 05, but it still has a lot of room for improvement.




Dynamic Turn View is automatic zoom function. When enabled we will see the whole length of the current section of the route starting from our GPS position all the way to the next turn. As we are approaching the next turn S&T zooms in to show us more detail. This is a very useful feature as I personally find that without auto zoom I need to manually change zoom level almost all the time ;-) This function works quite well in S&T 06, but it does have one silly annoyance: the GPS position icon does not stay still! Most of the time the icon is indeed where it should be, close to the bottom in the middle. But when we finish traveling along one segment of the route and we enter the next segment, at that moment the icon starts moving towards the top of the screen. This seems to correct itself a after a few seconds when the icon reaches the top and jumps back. This issue of “traveling icon” can be also observed when we deviate from our pre-calculated route. Then you can see the icon literally all over the screen, depending on which way you are moving. This is not acceptable, the icon should not move at all, not even a millimeter. It should be placed in one place on the screen so users’ eyes can easily locate it just by a quick glance.


Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  04:03:57  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote

MS PocketStreets 2006



Actually the documentation I received indicated MS PocketStreets 2005 would be included with S&T free of charge. Well, no matter what you call it, 05 or 06, it still is the same software :( And that means no-routing ability, small map size limit, etc.

A lot of people have made the same error in the past of assuming they can just install the "PDA version of S&T" on their PocketPC and enjoy all the functions of Streets & Trips. No, S&T and PocketStreets are two completely different programs. They are actually even developed by two completely different departments at Microsoft.

Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada
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Hoganshawk

8 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  05:46:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It looks to me like the above picture (left onto RR-73) has an angle change. Is it my eyes playing tricks or is this the "dynamic turn view" feature? I personally like the different travel angle idea I saw on the "Wish List forum" picture a former member drew up. We'll see I guess.

Regards,
Hoganshawk
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  13:10:24  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
No 3D unfortunately yet, but 3D would likely be the most significant improvement to S&T (especially if implemented as shown on the artwork by Dumpper in our "old" wish list >> here <<).




New Night Map Style



Click to enlarge



MS Streets and Trips 2006 introduces a new map style designed for night driving. It reduces the driver distraction by bright computer screen. This is another very valuable newly added feature, and perhaps it could even be improved in future versions:

1. During the day we can distinguish various road classes by their color, but the night color scheme turns everything to green and I find it more difficult to orient myself. In some situations it may not be as easy to quickly tell what a highway is and what a local road is. I’d like future S&T versions to incorporate more colors to the new night scheme.

2. Even when we close all the toolbars, we are still left with the Title bar and Menu bar. I have always wished for a full screen mode in S&T, and this is now even more needed with the introduction of the night map style. The map is dark, but the bright Menu bar on top may be distracting to some users.

3. Several GPS navigation products have the option to automatically switch from day to night colors depending on the local sunrise and sunset times.


Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada

Edited by - Marvin Hlavac on 23 sept. 2005 13:35:35
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dumpper

Canada
118 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  16:18:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The night mode looks really cool to me (ie. like a view through a "night vision goggle"!) ... Is there a keyboard shortcut for switching day time & night time view, or do we have to dig deep into the menu again while driving at 100km/h ? Also, how would the "Driving guidance" appear at night time - can you provide a screenshot ?

quote:
... The map is dark, but the bright Menu bar on top may be distracting to some users.


Yes, to remind us that this is a "Microsoft products" & we're still running "Mirosoft Windows", NOT Linux or anything else ...

Edited by - dumpper on 23 sept. 2005 16:29:08
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  18:16:47  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
One way to switch the two modes would by pressing the following 4 keys in sequence:

Alt V M N (Road Map Night)
Alt V M R (Road Map)

I may create a new version of S&Tkeys for the new S&T 2006, and perhaps this feature could be added to the list of hotkeys. But ideal solution would be for Microsoft to add a user-defined keyboard shortcuts feature into future versions of S&T. DeLorme just came up with a feature like that in their recently released StreetAtlas 2006.




Click to enlarge




My “ideal” look of Streets & Trips would be the above picture. The only thing to add would be an arrow icon representing the shape of next turn, distance to next turn, street name of next turn, ETA, distance to destination, and remaining time to destination. That is all. Any other info displayed I’d consider a distraction to the driver. All of the above info should be overlaid right on the map (no space-stealing panes).

Please note that I used a third party software to force S&T into full screen mode on the above screenshot.


Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada
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yuprules

131 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  18:22:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the amazing review so far, you have made many GPS fanatics drool like mad (like me). I can't wait for the next update.

Hmm...I think someone is trying to MSN you in that screen shot ;)

Edited by - yuprules on 23 sept. 2005 18:23:23
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  21:12:20  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Yuprules, it was not my intention to make people drool, LOL ;-)




S&T 2005




S&T 2006



I see improved coverage of some parts of Mexico. I don't think this is yet based on the newest NavTeq Mexico data released in March though. That data was supposed to include over 75 popular tourist destinations including locations such as Acapulco, Ixtapa, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. All these places are still only a dot on the map in S&T 2006. But eventually that data will make it into future versions ;-)


P.S. Both of the above screenshots are of the same area taken at 20 km zoom level.

Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada

Edited by - Marvin Hlavac on 23 sept. 2005 21:16:34
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dumpper

Canada
118 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  21:19:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Marvin ... again, you may have missed one of my questions above ... Can you show us how the "Driving Guidance" in the "Night" view look like ?
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Marvin Hlavac

Canada
6904 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  22:00:50  Show Profile  Visit Marvin Hlavac's Homepage  Reply with Quote

Click to enlarge



Sorry, I missed that part Dumpper. But to make it up I uploaded here full size image for you. Just click the above small picture to see it huge ;-) You may need to disable auto resizing in your web browser to avoid distortion.

Marvin Hlavac - Toronto, Canada
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dumpper

Canada
118 Posts

Posted - 23 sept. 2005 :  22:34:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Whoa ... That's a pretty sight - no more ResHack required for the car icon ... I think Microsoft is training us to be familiar of "military technologies" (for another WW? j/k)

Sorry, I do have one more question about the program's behaviors ... Does it save all settings, including "font size" when we close the program or do we still have to make a default template ?
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