Google Maps Navigation brings sat-nav to Android phones
Google Maps takes it to the next level with turn-by-turn navigation, voice searching and hearty ladles of awesomeness on phones sporting the next version of Android
If it wasn't for Google Maps, we'd be more lost than the Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Now we bow to our googly overlords yet again with the announcement of Google Maps Navigation for the next version of Android, 2.0.
Yep, it's Google sat-nav for your Android phone, and it looks pretty mind-blowing -- and unlike existing sat-navs, this bad boy is free like lunch isn't.
We already prefer Google Maps to the pricey sat-nav applications available on the iPhone, but it currently lacks several features compared to fully fledged sat-navs. It'll give you directions, but it won't show you your route as a 3D path along the road, it won't hold your hand and guide you along the route, it won't read out the directions as you go, and it won't update your trip if you take a wrong turn.
Google Maps Navigation should do all that and more. Just like the current version of Google Maps, however, it'll download its maps as it needs them -- unlike other sat-navs, which store them in the phone's memory. That means if you're abroad, it'll cost an arm and a leg to use, thanks to data-roaming charges.
Google Maps Navigation is only available in the US for now, on the Motorola Droid (it's a pint-sized power plant!), which is the only phone that's been released with an early version of Android 2.0. Google's not saying when we can expect it in the UK, and Motorola is similarly tight-lipped about our prospects for the Droid or another Android 2.0 phone.
Nevertheless, on your home turf Google Maps Navigation is packed with interesting features. Click 'Continue' to peruse the mappy wonder and find out more from Google's Web site.
You can search by voice -- and you don't have to know your exact destination, since Google Maps is clever at working out locations without exact addresses or post codes.
For example, you could just say, "Navigate to the woods, because I wish to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Just for example.
Some Android phones will support a 'car dock mode', so that if you pop it in a dashboard holder, your phone automatically switches to a big-icon landscape look that should help you navigate without crashing into oncoming traffic.
This is a feature on the Motorola Droid, which is only out in the US. But we will cry if we do not get it.
You can search for stuff as you go along, and Google Maps Navigation will try to find locations close to your route. In this screenshot, we try to avoid an early coronary by mapping In-and-Out Burger restaurants to avoid.