Thursday, October 29, 2009

RIP GPS Companies; Google Introduces Maps Navigation.

By Benedict Wee

Not content to rob large conglomerates of search engines (Google Search), email (Gmail), mobile operating systems (Android), browsers (Chrome) and mobile calls (Google Voice), Google has announced Maps Navigation; a turn-by-turn navigation add-on application for Google Maps.

Here are some of its major features -

* It's a Free Service: Where once you had to pay a subscription fee (around US$100/NZ$135) to GPS companies like TomTom and Garmin in addition to purchasing the GPS device, Google's Maps Navigation is not only free, but it doesn't use ad support for revenue as well.

* Text/voice input: You can either choose to type down or give voice commands to your destination.

* Traffic view: The ability to see which road is congested via green/yellow/red color codes.

* Offline support: Maps are cached along your route to the destination so there is no worry of losing your connection midway though the journey.

* Always updated maps: Map data is constantly updated automatically without prompt.

* Multiple views and layers: Being a Google Map application, you can switch between Street, Satellite and Terrain views while points of interests like landmarks will be visible with layer support. Expect to see Google Latitude integrated with the service in the near future, making it easy to pick someone up without them having to give you the exact location.

* Point to destination: If you spot a landmark or a specific place that you want to travel to you can just point to the location on the map without needing to reenter the address.

Google Maps Navigation is currently in beta and will only be available on Android 2.0 (for now) but seeing as the mobile OS appears on any gadget with a screen, expect to see budget GPS sets running Android popping up in stores in the near future.


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