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:
Very nice product. I would definanty.
It seems likely that the navigation results for 'the bar across the street from Yankee Stadium' would include an ad.
Not a bad trade-off, given the cool free app, but the thing to keep in mind is Google's product ultimately is advertising space.
As part of their unbelievably massive database on consumer behavior patterns, will be where they go and how they get there. This will be useful for advertisers, as they can have ads come up based on your route, and other parameters particular to you, for places you might like as you drive.
Again, not a bad thing, but up to each person to decide how much they want their personal behavior cataloged by a private organization.