Google Shrinks Another Market With Free Turn-By-Turn Navigation

Google has announced a free turn-by-turn navigation system for Android 2.0 phones such as the Droid. Google Maps Navigation is only available in the US right now. Google’s release of a navigation is huge, but not unexpected blow to Tomtom (owner of former US mapping data partner Tele Atlas (Radar post)), Nokia (owner of mapping data provider NAVTEQ), Garmin and other personal navigation devices (PNDs). That it is free will fundamentally change the industry (and sell a lot of Android 2.0 phones in the process). Assuming that Google Maps Navigation makes it onto the iPhone and Blackberry platforms it will become a race to the bottom for navigation apps in their respective app stores.

Google Maps Navigation has many impressive features aside from being free. As snipped from the main page:

  • Search in plain English (watch video). No need to know the address. You can type a business name or even a kind of a business, just like you would on Google.
  • Search by voice (watch video). Speak your destination instead of typing (English only): “Navigate to the de Young Museum in San Francisco”.
  • Traffic view (watch video). An on-screen indicator glows green, yellow, or red based on the current traffic conditions along your route. A single touch toggles a traffic view which shows the traffic ahead of you.
  • Search along route (watch video). Search for any kind of business along your route, or turn on popular layers such as gas stations, restaurants, or parking.
  • Satellite view (watch video). View your route overlaid on 3D satellite views with Google’s high-resolution aerial imagery.
  • Street View (watch video). Visualize turns overlaid on Google’s Street View imagery. Navigation automatically switches to Street View as you approach your destination.
  • Car dock mode (watch video). For certain devices, placing your phone in a car dock activates a special mode that makes it easy to use your device at arm’s length.

200910280802

The satellite view looks very sexy in this screenshot. Another advantage to this app is that Google is also making use of its business listings and (presumably) its web crawl data. In the video above MIchael is able to get directions to “the museum with the King Tut exhibit”.

200910280835The use of streetview to show what turns will look like and how to find your final destination is also a real advantage. The app will sometimes know which side of the street your destination is.

This comes shortly after Google announced that it was going to be using its own mapping data in the US. This data has been derived from its own streetview trucks, satellite imagery and, increasingly, its users. Google now owns or has created almost every layer of its geostack in the US (it uses third-party satellite imagery). It’s expected that they will roll out their own data across the globe. The question is hat will they do with this data? Will they continue to make it available only by their own services or will they actually release the data publicly for commercial and/or non-commercial use? Regardless of Google’s ultimate decision it just became a tough day for all navigation companies out there.

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  • http://twitter.com/chrisrosa chrisr

    Looks great! If you have an internet connection.

  • http://tylercordaro.com Tyler C

    WOW looks so good. I hope it works as fast as the video shows.

  • http://www.idc.com David Sonnen

    I wonder how this will shrink any market? Google seems to be taking a logical step to spatially-enable Android. LBS and location-specific content is a big driver for most cell services.

    What seems to be unique is that Google is using their own data and some data they’ve licensed. And, the app is “free” — it’s a feature set inside Android.

    Yea, maybe Google will kick Navigator out to other devices, just like MapQuest: http://wireless.mapquest.com/mq4m/

    “Free” from MapQuest still cost minutes from the carrier. Google Navigator will work the same way. The carriers, not Google, controls wireless bandwidth.

    gNavigator looks like a “me too” rather than something unique.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting how quickly Google is shifting from organizing the world’s data to owning the world’s data.

  • http://urbeingrecorded.com/news chris arkenberg

    The thing that seems to be consistently overlooked in all discussions about mobile mapping is whether or not the maps are cached locally to the device. The major shortcoming of eg. iPhone mapping is that the maps are inaccessible when you lose network connectivity. Conversely, the ultimate value differentiator for PNDs is that you always have navigation available.

    For me, a game-changing development from Google that could seriously impact the GPS market would be local map storage. I want access to GPS mapping *everywhere* and *at all times*. This article and most others don’t seem to address this important aspect.

  • joe u

    Maybe I can I tether my blackberry with a data connection to an Android phone or netbook and get the service today? Just wait until Android becomes the next auto OS.

  • http://www.proxpro.com Julian Bourne

    Not a great day, but I think navigation companies have been expecting this day for some time. What will surprise them is the level of innovation, which leverages Google’s strengths.

    To some extent all ships will rise with the tide as mobile GPS navigation and smart phones become more popular. Many of the nav companies will be insulated from the effects for 1-2 years because of their strong carrier relationships. However subscribers will be slipping through their fingers with time.

    There is much scope for innovation. Google’s version of augmented reality, or augmented intelligence, is not the end game by any means.

    Julian Bourne
    Prompt – GPS Calendar
    http://www.proxpro.com

  • http://www.smarttodolist.com Scott

    What happens when you lose your data connection or if you’re in an area with bad service? I’m not so sure about using this as a complete replacement for the standard GPS units (or apps available with downloadable maps).

  • http://www.yourdelivery.de/ Kathi562

    Hey great thing… just hope that it will work with my mobilephone HTCmagic ???
    Just a few weeks ago i got a really good app for some ordering stuff, so i can now order food. As exampel http://www.yourdelivery.de/… great think cause now i can pay per creditcard :)))

  • http://www.yourdelivery.de/ Samantha Knowl
  • Lucas

    Well seems like I will be able to throw my Garmin Nuvi 310 away

  • http://www.bilet-fiyatlari.com ucak bileti

    To some extent all ships will rise with the tide as mobile GPS navigation and smart phones become more popular. Many of the nav companies will be insulated from the effects for 1-2 years because of their strong carrier relationships. However subscribers will be slipping through their fingers with time.

    There is much scope for innovation. Google’s version of augmented reality, or augmented intelligence, is not the end game by any means.

  • http://www.krankenversicherungsbeitrag.com Krankenversicherungsbeitrag

    Now I just need a new smartphone with Android :-)