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.