Google has obviously tired of waiting for handset manufacturers to push out Android 2.0 to existing handsets before users can play with the Google Maps Navigation beta, and as such has released the turn-by-turn software for Android 1.6 devices. Available now in the Android Market, Google Maps Navigation for Android 1.6 delivers the same topographical layers, voice guidance and automatic rerouting as we found so useful on the Motorola DROID.
Given how often we hear about manufacturers using Android for their mobile devices, it's a surprise dedicated sat-nav units don't feature more highly. Chinese firm ArcherMind Technology have been showing off what they're saying is the world's first embedded Android-based navigation system, complete with 7-inch touchscreen display and integrated 3G.
The arrival of Google Maps Navigation was enough justification for many to declare that standalone PNDs were dead and buried, but according to Berg Insight there's still some way to go before the devices peak. The research firm estimate that dedicated PNDs will peak in 2012, with sales around the 50m units per year mark, after which they'll decline. They also suggest that connected PNDs will have a slightly longer grasp on the market.
US would-be DROID buyers now livid by the European version of the smartphone's multitouch support can take heart in the fact that while the Motorola MILESTONE gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. Mobile-Review's Eldar Murtazin has revealed that - on his pre-release Euro model at least - Android 2.0 lacks turn-by-turn directions in Google Maps Navigation.
Update: A Google spokesperson has told us that the reason turn-by-turn is absent from the MILESTONE is because currently the beta is US-only.
With Google Maps Navigation causing ripples not only among Android users but in the share prices of Garmin, TomTom and other mapping providers, it seems some location-based services providers are coming out fighting. LaptopMag have been talking to Networks in Motion's (NIM) Steve Andler, VP of marketing at the company responsible for Verizon's VZ Navigator and the Gokivo iPhone app, and he's pulling no punches about his opinion of Google. Andler describes the idea of Android as being open as "a bunch of hooey", and even goes so far as to suggest that "Google is doing exactly what Microsoft did, which is, they integrate stuff into the core, leaving no room for anyone to innovate."
Of course, it's not surprising that Andler - and NIM - are frustrated, given the particular corner of software development they chose to carve out. Andler's core argument about PND software is that it requires more than a few voice prompts on top of a map.
Google have announced the latest evolution of Google Maps for mobile, and life for standalone PND apps just got a whole lot harder. Android 2.0 devices - such as the Verizon Droid by Motorola - now have access to Google Maps Navigation Beta, a turn-by-turn navigation application that supports voice guidance, search-by-voice and automatic re-routing complete with traffic information.
Navigation firm Mio is planning to use Android for certain models in their next-gen PND line-up. The Mio MiBuddy range will offer both Android models - complete with GPS navigation, media playback and internet access - and versions using the existing Windows CE-based OS of Mio's current PND range. While specific hardware details and model numbers are yet to be confirmed, Mio has revealed that the Android models will have WiFi and Bluetooth; future versions may add WiMAX.
Guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of English-lovers everywhere, TomTom's GO I-90 PND promises navigation "infotainment" with a double-DIN chassis and removable touchscreen slate. Intended to curtail the rush of buyers from PNDs to smartphone navigation apps, TomTom's latest replaces your existing in-car audio head-unit with a combination entertainment system and turn-by-turn direction system.
Garmin has silently added the new nuvi 1450 GPS navigation device to its line up without a press release or anything to announce its presence. The 1450 is a slick little device that is priced for the higher-end of the market at $449.99.
When it comes to GPS navigation, most of us would identify with the market right away several names. Garmin is one of the big names and right up there with Garmin is TomTom. TomTom has unveiled its latest PND today called the XL 335S the new navigation device has many of the features that make TomTom devices popular including IQ Routes.