Maps Navigation GPS Added to Android 2.0

Google has added free Google Maps Navigation GPS software to its new Android operating system, giving away one of the few mobile services for which punters were still prepared to pay.

The application, which will only be available on the yet-to-be-launched devices using Android version 2, provides all the functionality that one might expect from a satellite navigation service: route planning, directions and points of interest, along with Street View pictures to help with the details and caching of maps to allow off-line use, and all for free.

Google Maps Navigation won't, necessarily, be bundled with every Android 2.0 device; that's up to manufacturers and network operators, but devices that do have it installed will provide turn-by-turn instructions and even cache maps once a route has been planned, which should make it operable even with connectivity lets you down, but try not to deviate too far from the proposed route unless you're confident of your connectivity, Register reports.

It was also reported, the service is powered by Google and connected to the Internet—also, this free navigation feature is constantly updated, providing the most recent maps, so the driver can avoid road blocks, traffic accidents and road construction in their local area.

To activate the “voice shortcut,” just simply say “Navigate to [your destination]” and Google Maps will respond, sending you on your way views of live traffic and street views all produced via satellite. Also, the Droid can now search along the route for upcoming businesses, gas stations and restaurants that won’t take you too far off your desired course.

If the Droid makes it big with consumers [like Google, Verizon, and Motorola hope it will], this navigation feature will pose a seriously threat to companies like TomTom and Garmin who specialize and charge for the same service, reports.

News agencies also report, at one time, Google Maps Navigation would have surfaced first on Apple's iPhone. But, today's announcement of the service, which coincides with the formal announcement of Motorola's Droid handset, makes no mention of the iPhone.

Does that sound like a marriage gone sour, or what?

Google's other navigation app, a locator service called Latitude, is not available as an iPhone application and remains the subject of controversy as to who has kept it from being released, AT&T or Apple.

Is Google saying Apple will have to accept Latitude to get the new navigation service? Could be, PC World reports.

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