Back in October, Google changed the mobile navigation space when it launched Google Maps Navigation for Android. While the product itself is solid it also has one killer feature: it’s free. This has forced the makers of other non-free navigation tools to scramble to convince users their products are still worth paying for. Verizon is the latest to do so with its VZ Navigator 5, launching tomorrow.
So what would make it worth paying for? Verizon has a few new features in this latest update, but one of the ones they are touting the most is social media integration. Specifically, you can now update your Facebook status by way of VZ Navigator. This in and of itself isn’t that interesting, but you can also send out your location to Facebook with this feature, apparently.
While Facebook has yet to launch any major location functionality itself, a few third parties including Yahoo’s Fire Eagle and Nokia have leveraged the network for their location-based products. But VZ Navigator’s Facebook integration might be the most meaningful yet, as we could actually see people who use the service sending their location to their friends on Facebook. In other words, customers could start using this integration to make Facebook more like the popular location services such as Foursquare.
Of course, unlike the popular location services, VZ Navigator isn’t free. Using it will cost you $9.99 a month or $2.99 for 24-hours of usage. But with that price you also get other features, namely turn-by-turn navigation. With this new version, Verizon has also added new “enhanced” points of interest that show up on their maps with details about the place. There is also now crowd-sourced traffic information that Verizon claims will make traffic reports more timely and accurate. Overall, the look and feel of the application has been updated as well.
Another nice feature is that if you need roadside assistance, you can send your location and number with the click of a button.
VZ Navigator 5 will be available tomorrow for the BlackBerry Curve 8530, the LG enV Touch, the HTC Touch Pro2, and the Samsung Omnia. The plan it to roll it out to other smartphones on Verizon’s network in the coming weeks, we’re told. Verizon builds VZ Navigator in association with TeleCommunication Systems.