Search and software giant Google today launched Google Maps Navigation in Australia and New Zealand, giving Android drivers and pedestrians turn-by-turn navigation capabilities.
Google Maps Navigation (Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)
Andrew Foster, product manager for Google, announced the new features at a briefing at the company's Sydney headquarters today.
Google Maps Navigation integrates the company's voice search, Street View, mapping data, traffic information as well as user ratings and reviews into a mobile application to give turn-by-turn navigation to drivers and pedestrians using the company's Android mobile platform.
Users can also create directional bookmarks that can be put into the phone menu or onto the home screen.
The new turn-by-turn software also caches navigation data from the cloud into the handset, meaning that users aren't as hamstrung by signal dropouts.
"All the routing takes place in the cloud. It uses the same technology that's on desktop. Users can add stops and change the route accordingly," Foster said.
"If your internet connection drops out en route, you can still navigate [thanks to caching], as long as you've followed the original instructions. When the connection comes back, we can reroute you if you've made a mistake," he added.
Over time, Google is interested in building a system which can respond to user problems almost instantaneously, although the new "Report a Problem" feature on mobile is currently in its infancy.
"We're keen to see how people report problems. From your phone, you can report a problem with any directions we give you, and we hope to have it fixed as soon as possible, at the moment, within a few months," Foster said.
While Google Maps Navigation is only available for Android users running software version 1.6, the search giant didn't rule out providing the service to other handset platforms.
"At this point, it's only Android that has the 3D graphics capabilities to handle the navigation application as well as the layering technology built-in. If BlackBerry, [for example], made a platform that could support it, we'd absolutely give it," Foster said.
Foster also added that the search giant isn't interested in creating dedicated GPS navigation devices with the Google Maps Navigation product built-in.
"At the moment, we're only in the software business, not the hardware business. It runs on practically all smartphone software in Australia today," he said.
The information behind Google Maps Navigation on mobile is the same as Google Maps on desktops and uses the same suppliers.