Google, Android 2.0 sticks fork in GPS devices

Google, Android 2.0 sticks fork in GPS devices

Summary: Global positioning devices were already on the road to becoming irrelevant and Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 may speed up the trip.


Global positioning devices were already on the road to becoming irrelevant and Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 may speed up the trip.

Google on a blog post announced the beta of Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 devices. Two takeaways to note:

  • The app could be killer for Android devices and probably the first in a long line of goodies as Google aims to entice consumers to jump to the mobile operating system.
  • The Google Maps Navigation app replicates a GPS device with turn-by-turn directions and automatic rerouting.

So what does Google's move mean for sales of GPS devices?

Google outlined how Google Maps Navigation has the most recent data, simple search, voice search and various views (satellite, traffic, street). In other words, Google will effectively take on Garmin and TomTom with its Android phones.

Also: Five interesting new details about Verizon's Moto Droid

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Topics: Android, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • It would also be great if Android could automatically re-route you in

    real-time, when things like the Bay Bridge suddenly
    close. This means munincipalities automatically
    posting closures on a web site, that all providers
    can use in real-time. Munincipalities could also
    distribute traffic in real-time.

    Lots of possibilities to replacing the "dumb" GPSes
    of the past.
  • not so fast

    last time I checked a GPS needed specialized hardware to get radio data from satelites.
    You can't determine the precise location without it.
    Linux Geek
    • Re: not so fast

      A GPS device does indeed need specialized hardware. However, a cell phone has specialized hardware in terms of locating cell towers, etc. I seem to remember reading an article months ago that talked about how the google cell phone OS could use cell towers to triangulate one's location.

      Of course, if one doesn't have cell coverage, then it would seem like this package might not work so well. Are there cell phone providers whose users never have a problem accessing a tower?
      • Most newer smart phones

        actually have true GPS hardware, not just cell tower triangulation. Though triangulation still exists for those who choose to save battery by not running the GPS hardware.

        I am not sure if GPS is an actual requirement of Android, but all the existing Android smart phones have it (G1, MyTouch, Hero).
        Michael Kelly
  • RE: Google, Android 2.0 sticks fork in GPS devices

    Linux Geek,

    My Blackberry Storm gets GPS to 5 meters when I'm out in the open. Its not like 15 years ago when you needed something the size of a brick to get a good GPS signals.
  • Ho, hum... the Blackberry has had this for years

    I have 4 different FREE GPS applications on my blackberry Storm that I use regularly and in place of my old GPS units. All of them update to the web automatically bringing down the latest maps (no need for chart upgrades). The one I like best is Nav4All... it gives turn by turn directions over the speakerphone/bluetooth in any one of dozens of languages or even accents. I have the fun, sexy english lady give me directions.... Google Maps is OK, Blackberry Maps is a bit more intuitive to use but Nav4All beats them all hands down and you can't argue about the price. Why anybody would want to buy a standalone GPS if they use a cellphone is beyond me.
    • all in one

      So while you're treking out in the woods listening to your mp3 player the batteries run down. you look around and gee your lost! No problem I'll just reverse route on my GPS, oh no the same batteries that ran my mp3 player are my gps batteries, no problem I'll call a friend for help...oops no batteries cause...

      While I realize it is the current fashion rage to cram as many devices as possible into a single box, I still see only one limited power suppy. That lack of redundancy sounds like trouble to me.
      • Simple cure for this issue....
      • But since I'm an experienced hiker...

        I reach into my backpack and pull out a spare fully charged battery that I have for redundancy. Problem resolved. And the spare battery takes up less room than a separate GPS unit.
    • Not just voice directions.

      It doesn't just give you directions via voice, it also accepts commands and destinations by voice. And remember that Google's search engine is on the other end of the network as well. Call out the address you're heading to or even a search that might result in a nearby address ("Italian restaurants", "Chase bank branch") and a few interactions later, it's giving you voice directions to the address specified.

      This device takes advantage of the fact that it's got an always-on connection to the net, not just for map tiles, but also for high-quality speech recognition and search integration.

      No GPS navigation system has anything like that combination yet. I don't know if that's a killer app, but it's spectacularly useful to me since it's substantially better than any dedicated GPS unit.
  • So has Windows Mobile...

  • RE: Google, Android 2.0 sticks fork in GPS devices

    I like Google, but I also like Garmin and TomTom. Can't they all just get along?
  • RE: Google, Android 2.0 sticks fork in GPS devices

    A GPS-only device still has its place (for the time being) and it reminds me of the role now played by Satphones. They represent the technology that demonstrated the possibilies to the masses and rather than commoditize that technology, the market went away and reproduced a simpler way using a cheaper, more extensive network of cellphone masts that now cover vast areas of the planet.

    Convergence is fine when robustness and availability are not the primary concern (crossing deserts: eggs in one basket) but when all these devices (phones, cameras, watches?) share location-functionality then we'll probably see this GPSbricks disappear.
  • Google maps on Symbian needs data connection

    If it works on Android the way it works on Symbian, then you need a data connection to download maps as you travel. This burns up precious data download bytes.

    My Garmin doesn't have any ongoing costs as I use it.

    Funny thing is Nokia maps allows me to download maps, but I need a Nokia server to plot the course!!!

    • Android App that allows map downloads...
  • Wouldn't any device...

    ...with google maps and a gps receiver be able to do the same thing? i.e. nothing special about Android here.
  • RE: Google, Android 2.0 sticks fork in GPS devices

    I'm just back from a trip to the middle of Wisconsin that demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of Garmin vs Blackberry. As long as I had a stong enough phone signal, my blackberry had street-level instructions in the middle of nowhere. When I lost phone signal, our driver's Garmin had satelite accuracy, but an older, less detailed map.
    Jim Brown 8383
    • sounds like a short term implementation problem

      Could be a poorly written implementation of a GPS app or a memory limitation. Either way it wont be long til its remedied. A good GPS app would pre fetch a low/medium res map for say a 50 sq mile area around you and a high res one for a smaller say 5 sq mile area so if you ran out of service you'd still be functional.

      Dedicated GPS is on life support and dying fast. Sell your stock if you have any.

      And yes this is nothing new except to Android.... yawn...
      Johnny Vegas
      • Perhaps for in the car...

        ...dedicated GPS may be "on life support" but what about in the great outdoors? There are still plenty of places (such as on a snowmobile in the backwoods of Northern Minnesota) where relying on cell phone reception just wont work. I'd run out of your 5 sq mile area of high res maps in the first few minutes and be out of your 50 sq mile area within an hour. Try this in Colorado, Wyoming, etc and its even worse.

        So I think there is going to be value to a device with a locally stored map for a long time to come. If you want something primarily for driving in your car in populated areas you probably will not need it, but some of us still will.
  • Google whats the deal here?

    Yep that's right my understanding too..Conurbations and countries with good network converage would be good for this.However it might stress on light aviation and the vagas desert?Also what strikes me is the amount of processing power/battery/and speed of update cap. considering existing HTC devices have reported to run slow on version 1.5? Has release two of Android fixed this? CAn Android 1.5 users update to version 2 easally and is it free to do so?
    The Management consultant