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Google details Maps Navigation for Android, iPhone

updated 12:20 pm EDT, Wed October 28, 2009

Google Maps Navigation official with 3D

Google today provided added details of the turn-by-turn mapping service found on the Motorola Droid. Google Maps Navigation adds many of the features that would normally exist in a dedicated GPS unit, such as a bird's-eye view and spoken directions, but takes advantage of Google's existing Maps features. Traffic is free in those areas where Google provides service, and Street View can show directions overlaid on top of in-location photos.

Search is naturally rolled into Navigation and lets drivers use voice or typed commands to navigate to a location by search criteria rather than a specific address. Long-distance travelers can launch a search in mid-drive and find just the points of interest close to the already planned route.

Google Maps Navigation ships first on the Droid as a beta but will be available for all Android 2.0 devices. The company also says it's cooperating with Apple to bring the feature to the iPhone through its built-in Maps tool but hasn't given a timetable for when it expects the feature to be ready.

The unveiling is a potential coup for Google. Although RIM's BlackBerry line and most GPS-aware Nokia phones include company-made turn-by-turn apps, these either have limited functionality or require a paid subscription to work properly. Google Maps requires an active Internet connection to download map data but is otherwise free to use where most stand-alone apps, including for the iPhone, often carry a significant initial fee and often charge extra for future map updates.

by MacNN Staff



  1. henryblackman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not to special.

    Google’s announcement really doesn’t us the reality of the situation. There is no doubt this is impressive on first glance, looks like Apple actually designed it, but thinking carefully:

    * You must be connected at all times: drop the network, no maps. Is this a deal breaker for everyone. If you can’t rely on the app you’ll end up buying one you can rely on! This is why Google Maps on iPhone etc isn’t already used for navigation. Mobile networks aren’t reliable at speed, and for 100% coverage, that’ll never happen. Look at your coverage maps in less built-up areas. In the UK, we have about 98% coverage, but that’s by population, not by geography.

    * Roaming. GPS is one of the first devices people pack when going on holiday. This will be useless. No one will want to pay the roaming charges.

    * The shiny street view interface is only available in a small minority of places. The nice “follow the line” graphics won’t be as useful when there is no picture, which will be in the vast majority of areas. Until Google map EVERY road in the world, this won’t help. In fact I’d like to see the UI when the app transitions from a street view to a generated display. That street map gets old very quickly too.

    * Satellite view isn’t that helpful. Manipulating the low quality you get at any kind of useful magnification to a angled display to give a sense of 3D as they did in the demo will look horribly pixelated when zoomed in.

    In the light of these issues I wonder how useful the app actually is. I doubt TomTom are worrying too much at this stage.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The app does cache the maps along the route so if you do lose connectivity, it keeps on going. I agree that it would be useless on holiday but it's not unreasonable to think Google would eventually extend the caching to allow preloading the maps over wifi.

    Also, this would allow much much better searching. Current nav apps are absolutely horrible in their search interfaces.

    Also? Free!

  1. cartoonspin

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Well obviously the industry is looking at this since GPS company stocks have dropped over 10-35% on this announcement. This is huge.

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