Well this is good news. Today Google showed off their new Google Maps Navigation app for the Android 2.0 release. It looks brilliant, and the interface blows other GPS's out of the water. The features read like a wishlist of a brilliant GPS, but typical of Google, they are making it available for free. Here are some of the new features as described on Google's site:

The most recent map and business data
When you use Google Maps Navigation, your phone automatically gets the most up-to-date maps and business listings from Google Maps — you never need to buy map upgrades or update your device. And this data is continuously improving, thanks to users who report maps issues and businesses who activate their listings with Google Local Business Center.

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.

Traffic view
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.

Satellite view
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.

Street View
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.

Needless to say iPhone users are screaming: "what about us?!" Has Google and Apple's rivalry finally stopped decent Google apps from appearing on the iPhone? Luckily not. As reported by iLounge, Google’s Vice President of Engineering, Vic Gundotra, confirmed that the company is currently working with Apple to bring the application to the iPhone. After this week's good news of decent Google Maps routing in SA finally being available, it looks like Google's Maps is becoming more and more powerful.

So far, the only issue I can see with the new Google Navigation app is the apparent data costs - the maps will most probably not be stored on the device, and in countries which do not have uncapped 3G services, this app can cost a lot to run. (Updated: while it does need an internet connection, it does cache the entire route beforehand.) Also, it will only work where there is reception... Please Google, cater for other countries than the US and make maps storable on the device?

Updated: Watch Garmin and Tomtom's stock price drop after the announcement of Google's new navigation features. Well, you guys knew this day was coming. After years of buying map updates from Garmap, I am pretty tired of paying for map updates.... Well Tomtom and Garmin can just drop the prices of their maps and apps to stay relevant.
blog comments powered by Disqus
My photo
I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.