If you weren’t sure about switching to an Android phone in the near future, this might put you over the edge. Google Maps Navigation is an absolutely killer app. And it is only available for Android 2.0 phones.
Today is Droid day, and for the most part Google is taking a backseat and letting their partners get most of the attention. But Droid is the first Android phone to run Android 2.0, and Google Maps Navigation is clearly the early trophy app for those devices.
Google Maps already has 50 million active users across various mobile phones, says Google. But what users have today isn’t even close to the new Navigation product.
First off, it’s connected, which puts it ahead of all but a tiny percentage of in-car navigation systems which have no Internet connectivity (Dash is a notable exception).
But even if Google charged for this app, it would still win hands down. The features include easy search (no need for address), voice search, traffic information (from data sources and crowd sourced from app), and street view close up pictures when you get near your destination. And the car dock mode gives bigger, simpler icons and auto-voice mode (see video):
Search in plain English. No need to know the address. You can type a business name (e.g. “starbucks”) or even a kind of a business (e.g. “thai restaurant”), just like you would on Google.
Search by voice. Speak your destination instead of typing (English only): “Navigate to the de Young Museum in San Francisco”.
Traffic view. An on-screen indicator glows green, yellow, or red based on the current traffic conditions along your route. A single touch on the indicator toggles a traffic view that shows the traffic ahead.
Search along route. Search for any kind of business along your route, or turn on popular layers such as gas stations, restaurants, or parking.
Satellite view. View your route overlaid on 3D satellite views with Google’s high-resolution aerial imagery.
Street View. Visualize turns overlaid on Google’s Street View imagery. Navigation automatically switches to Street View as you approach your destination.
Car dock mode. For certain devices, placing your phone in a car dock activates a special mode that makes it easy to use your device at arm’s length.
Here’s Navigation in the Droid dock, followed by an image gallery for the app: