Hot on the heels of the Android 2.0 mobile OS release, Google's sweetening the deal: the Eclair-flavored refresh to their mapping app turns handsets into feature-rich GPS devices -- for free.
Sure, previous versions of mobile Maps provided turn-by-turn directions, but this beta release takes it a step further and gets chatty. Like a standalone GPS, it will read directions aloud to you, and you can enter destinations by voice. Also, if you miss a turn, it will automatically recalculate your route.
Maps for 2.0 also takes advantage of all Google's views, including satellite images, Street View, and live traffic overlays. And, since all the maps are cloud-based, you don't have to download map updates or points of interest, since they're all stored on Google itself. Plus, searching (by either voice or text entry) is just like searching on the Google Maps homepage; you don't need to know the exact name of what you're looking for, so you can say things like "navigate to the bar across the street from Yankee Stadium."
There's tons to play with in the Beta, so we'll get back to you with plenty more, hands-on details when we get our mitts on an Android 2.0 phone, which should be very soon.
In the meantime, you can check out Google's video demo:
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