[UK] Google’s free satellite navigation app for Android, Google Maps Navigation, has found its way to the UK today. In a quiet update on the Android Market, the free turn-by-turn solution is now available to Brits touting phones running Android 1.6 or later.
Google Maps Navigation was previously only available in the US as Google continues to build out its own maps rather than relying on the data it licenses which can’t be used to provide full voice guided and dynamic navigation. We can expect to see further countries added over time, although at what speed is anybody’s guess – although it’s not a far stretch to expect other major European destinations to arrive soon.
That said, as I understand it, unlike many other smartphone-based Sat-Nav systems – including Nokia’s own free Ovi Maps – Google Maps Navigation requires a fairly persistent data connection. This is unlikely to make it a viable solution for when users are traveling abroad as international roaming charges are outrageously expensive, an issue that I think really needs to be addressed by the mobile operators and/or government regulators.
It’s always struck me as ironic that location-based services when they are often at their most useful – outside of a user’s home country – are prohibitively expensive due to those data charges and therefore rendered useless.