Google took the wraps off of Google Maps 5.7 for Android devices on Wednesday, and the software update adds quite a few new features. The most noteworthy addition is Google’s Transit Navigation beta feature, which provides navigation instructions for public transportation in more than 400 cities around the globe. You don’t have to leave it open, either. Once you’ve started your trip, Transit Navigation will automatically remind you with an alert when your stop is coming up. Google also made it easier to find driving or walking directions in one click, improved search suggestions with category icons, and added a photo viewer to the Places feature of Google Maps. The update is available free from the Android Market for devices running Android 2.1 or newer. Hit the jump for a video of Transit Navigation beta in action. More →
Google — noting that 40% of its Google Maps users are on mobile devices — updated its Google Maps Web app for iOS and Android today. We’ve been pretty satisfied with the native applications on Android and iOS, but the website allows you to access many of the options that are available from a desktop browser, too. That includes the ability to view your location, search nearby areas with suggestions and auto-complete, get directions for driving, transit, biking, or walking, view different lays, view Place pages, and access your starred locations. We’re particularly excited about the option for accessing our starred locations, a feature that’s not available in the native iOS application. You can access the revamped interface by visiting maps.google.com from your iOS or Android device. More →
Just moments ago on stage at BlackBerry World 2011, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis (no, the other one is also CMO, dummy) announced a strategic mobile partnership with Microsoft (translation: we’re super scared of Andy Rubin). Starting around the holiday timeframe, Microsoft’s Bing maps and search will be the preferred search and mapping solutions for BlackBerry products. We’re talking about a system-level integration, “far beyond a search box,” RIM said. Check out our live coverage of RIM’s BlackBerry World 2011 keynote for more!
On a brisk day in October almost a year ago, Google announced Android 2.0 alongside the Motorola DROID. On that same day, satellite navigation companies like Garmin and TomTom saw their stock prices deflate faster than Yankees fans’ spirits in the sixth inning last night. This was no coincidence. With Android 2.0, Google announced the addition of free satellite-guided turn-by-turn navigation to its popular Google Maps service. Garmin and TomTom both saw mobile as a big part of their futures, and here Google was breaking the space wide open. How can paid services possibly compete?
Netherlands-based navigation giant TomTom found at least one possible answer to that question this morning when it announced a new partnership with HTC. It is becoming increasingly difficult to sell smartphone-based navigation products directly to consumers, so the key is to get manufacturers and carriers to pay for these solutions — and to pay for new solutions that utilize the current Location Based Services (LBS) craze. TomTom, after all, provides much more functional and polished mobile navigation solutions than Google ever will.
The new deal announced this morning places TomTom’s maps in HTC’s new integrated navigation solution, HTC Locations, which HTC calls a “zero-wait navigation experience”. The service will initially be available on the HTC Desire HD and HTC Desire Z, and only in Europe and Asia. HTC Locations will expand to new devices and regions, though no further release schedule was provided.
The catch? HTC Locations will be free to end users, along with some basic functionality. Turn-by-turn navigation, however, will be a premium paid add-on, making it a much less appealing option than it could have been if HTC ate the expense as a value-add. Unless HTC decides to block Google Maps Navigation from its HTC Locations-equipped devices, we don’t see this new deal going very far at all. Sorry TomTom, looks like you’ll have to reroute your trip yet again. More →
If you’re an iPhone owner, you have to pay for your turn-by-turn GPS applications (at this point all the Android users are smiling ear-to-ear). If you’ve been holding off on purchasing an iPhone navigation application due to the cost, NAVIGON may have something for you. In honor of their one year App Store anniversary the company has temporarily cut the prices on their navigation offerings by fifty percent. The new pricing is as follows:
- MobileNavigator North America (includes maps for Canada & US): $39.99 instead of $79.99
- MobileNavigator USA: $24.99 instead of $49.99
- MobileNavigator Canada: $29.99 instead of $59.99
- MobileNavigator US MyRegion East, Central or West: $14.99 instead of $29.99, additional regions $11.99 instead of $14.99.
- Traffic Live: $12.99 instead of $24.99
- Panorama View 3D: $4.99 instead of $9.99
This pricing is available from August 12th to the 15th, and you can find all the goods in the App Store if interested. Enjoy! More →
T-Mobile G1 owners had long wondered who would be the first to offer true navigation services for Android handsets and today we have our answer. Later this month, Android users will be able to begin testing out TeleNav GPS Navigator, the brand new navigation application that will surely be as usable and feature-rich as its BlackBerry cousin – actually, even more so. The app features 3D turn-by-turn GPS navigation with voice guidance on top of nationwide maps and a business listing directory of over 10 million POIs. It will also provide traffic alerts, gas prices, weather forecasts and even direct access to restaurant reviews. TeleNav co-founder Sal Dhanani had this to say:
TeleNav has become synonymous with mobile phone GPS navigation. It is relied upon by millions of mobile customers. It was important to us that we build a great application for Android and the G1 so that customers with this phone would have a remarkable experience. The device’s large, beautiful touch screen creates an incredible navigation experience when combined with our software.
TeleNav GPS Navigator will become available as a free 30-day trial beginning Tuesday February 24, and will run $9.99 per month for those who find it useful enough to hold on to. Unlike some bigger navigation companies building nav software for mobiles such as Garmin and Tom Tom, TeleNav still opts for the monthly subscription model as opposed to a one-time fee. The idea behind a one-time fee of course — make mobile navigation purchases akin to buying a dedicated navigation unit. Buy the hardware, get the service forever, pay a subscription if you want advanced features. Different users have different preferences of course but we wonder how TeleNav would fair with a one-time fee option as well. Which pricing model do you guys prefer?
Google is definitely putting some solid work into its Mobile mapping application these days. We have a feeling it will eventually come to a point where Google makes paid navigation services obsolete (especially subscription services such as Nokia Maps) and it will likely be sooner rather than later. We can’t imagine a better native navigation candidate for Android, can you? In the meantime, new features continue to roll out at a surprising pace and the application seemingly becomes more comprehensive each day. Our last post covered Google’s voice search pilot available on certain BlackBerry devices and now Google has introduced mass transit directions on its S60 and Windows Mobile versions of Google Maps. Released yesterday, version 2.2 can be downloaded and installed by pointing your mobile browser to google.com/gmm. The version provides access to transit directions in over 50 cities around the world and surely more will follow. The usefulness of this new functionality is fairly obvious, especially for those who travel often. Mass transit had already been incorporated into the BlackBerry and Java versions of Google Maps so now we get to sit back, relax and wait to see what the mobile Maps team comes up with next.