Google has stepped into the smartphone navigation app market with Maps Navigation, which is based on its Maps for mobile app and gives the user live turn-by-turn directions, among other features. Though Maps for mobile is available on many smartphone platforms, for the time being, only Android 2.0 phones like the upcoming Droid will be able to use Maps Navigation.
The application is part of Google Maps for mobile. Android version 2.0 will appear on the upcoming Droid handset from Motorola (NYSE: MOT) and Verizon, and other manufacturers also plan to release handsets carrying the updated, Google-backed mobile OSTo search, users have the option of entering the name of a business or landmark into the search box instead of the exact address of a location.
Travelers may like the following features, which leverage their smartphones' Internet access: Live traffic data; satellite view; street view; and search along route.
A blinking light in the corner of the smartphone's screen will glow green, yellow or red depending on traffic conditions along the user's route. Users can get more details by zooming out to an aerial view. Like other GPS systems, Google Map Navigation lets users choose alternate routes.
While driving, users can search for a business by name or type, or they can locate gas stations, restaurants or parking by activating pre-installed layers on the map. Double-tapping the map takes users into Street View. Google Maps Navigation can also show travelers a picture of their destination so they know what to look for when they arrive.