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.
Video demo after the cut
Google search is obviously built in, and so you can tap in – or, by holding down the search button, search by voice – an address, landmark or business and get a list of results. It’s also possible to search for particular points of interest (such as gas stations) along the route, together with accessing both satellite mapping and Street View; Google Maps Navigation beta will even overlay a photo of your destination, if available, so that you can more readily identify it. Shortcuts to commonly-accessed destinations can be placed on the Android 2.0 homescreen, and of course there’ll be integration from the Contacts.
There’ll also be a new UI more suited for in-car use, which has larger icons and a predominantly voice-controlled menu system, and while there’s no multitouch support Google have said it’s up to third-party developers or handset manufacturers, such as HTC and Motorola, as to whether they add that in themselves. What’s really going to put the cat among the PND pigeons is that Google Maps Navigation Beta is free. More details at the project homepage, here.