If you felt that the turn-by-turn navigation iPhone apps like TomTom are expensive then Google has just given a pleasant surprise.
They have announced Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 and are working with Apple to bring the Navigation feature to iPhone’s built-in Maps application.
Here are some of the key features of Google Maps Navigation:
Search in plain English
Google Maps Navigation brings the speed, power and simplicity of Google search to your car. If you don't know the address you're looking for, don't worry. Simply enter the name of a business, a landmark or just about anything into the search box, and Google will find it for you. Then press "Navigate", and you're on your way.
Search by voice
Typing on a phone can be difficult, especially in the car, so with Google Maps Navigation, you can say your destination instead. Hold down the search button to activate voice search, then tell your phone what you want to do (like "Navigate to Pike Place in Seattle"), and navigation will start automatically.
Google Maps Navigation gets live traffic data over the Internet. A traffic indicator light in the corner of the screen glows green, yellow or red, depending on the current traffic conditions along your route. If there's a jam ahead of you, you'll know. To get more details, tap the light to zoom out to an aerial view showing traffic speeds and incidents ahead. And if the traffic doesn't look good, you can choose an alternate route.
Search along route
For those times when you're already on the road and need to find a business, Google Maps Navigation searches along your route to give you results that won't take you far from your path. You can search for a specific business by name or by type, or you can turn on popular layers, such as gas stations, restaurants or parking.
Google Maps Navigation uses the same satellite imagery as Google Maps on the desktop to help you get to your destination. Turn on the satellite layer for a high-resolution, 3D view of your upcoming route. Besides looking cool, satellite view can help you make sense of complicated maneuvers.
If you want to know what your next turn looks like, double-tap the map to zoom into Street View, which shows the turn as you'll see it, with your route overlaid. And since locating an address can sometimes be tricky, we'll show you a picture of your destination as you approach the end of your route, so you'll know exactly what to look for.
The best thing about the Google Maps Navigation is that it will be available for free and initially available in the US. The only limitation of the feature is that it will need an internet connection just like Google Maps for iPhone. However, you can expect Google to add this feature in subsequent releases as they would know better than us that it is an important feature for navigational apps.
According to Gizmodo, Google is apparently working with Apple to bring the Navigation feature to iPhone’s built-in Maps application.
For now, you can checkout Google Maps Navigation in the video below:
What does this potentially disruptive move by Google mean for GPS device makers who have recently released their iPhone apps on the App Store.
Telenav which provides the service used by AT&T’s Navigation iPhone app had this to say:
It’s premature to assume that this will have any dramatic impact on the industry. We will see how many phones the service launches on, the content and usability, as well as consumer feedback before we make any assumptions or conclusions about any impact on the industry. We know that people value navigation and are willing to pay for a high-quality, differentiated service.
Navigon had this to say about Google’s move to folks at TiPB:
[Google's] app is not available for the iPhone yet and on Android it’s just launching, so we’ll have to see how professional the navigation experience really is and how well the map material supports navigation functionalities. We have over 18 years of experience in the navigation field which lets us develop unique and high quality features not found on other navigation software and we are using maps that were created specifically for this use case. We provide excellent features such as Text-to-speech, Reality View™ Pro and Traffic Live and are convinced that consumers will pay extra dollars for a better, and more premium navigation experience. Besides, their solution is off-board which means that the navigation is interrupted when there is no cell phone signal available while our iPhone app is on-board and therefore works like a traditional navigation device – you will continue to get directions even without cell phone signal. This is particularly relevant in Europe where you have to pay extra roaming fees when using an off-board solution and travelling from one country to another. In addition, we already have navigation solutions for Android as well as WindowsMobile and Symbian smart phones on the market in Europe and are currently evaluating the options for launching some of these in the US as well – including Android. Our iPhone app is currently the top 3 grossing app in the App Store.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
[via Google Mobile blog]