Google announced today that it plans to bring turn by turn directions via Google Maps to devices running Android 2.0, and it will include features such as voice recognition, live traffic data, satellite view, and search capabilities via names of business and landmarks, address’s be damned.
You can check out a video preview of the app below, and we can’t lie, it looks cool as all hell.
The app, like with almost everything that comes out of Google, is going to be free and will make its first appearance on the upcoming Motorola Droid, which has managed to lay claim as the top Android device without even having been released yet.
Interestingly, CNET notes that Google is also working with Apple to bring the app to the iPhone. Now you might think that that sounds strange given the growing competition between Android and the iPhone, but with the iPhone still the smartphone to beat, Google loves having its apps pop up on the iPhone home screen as often as it can.
This was echoed in reports which surfaced yesterday which had navigation firms informing Forbes that Google was indeed working on an ad-supported turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone.
We should point out, though, that last July, Apple purchased the mapping company “PlaceBase” for an undisclosed sum. PlaceBase is a mapping program that actually preceded Google Maps, but never caught on once Google’s free and similar offering was introduced. Struggling to stay afloat, PlaceBase regrouped and changed their business model, and began offering customers interesting map customizations and intriguing aggregation options. For example, users could aggregate crime and traffic data, and have that information overlayed on corresponding locations on the map. And now, former PlaceBase CEO and founder Jaron Waldman is a part of Apple’s “Geo Team.”
Apple, of course, doesn’t buy companies willy nilly, and their acquisitions are always made with a concrete purpose. Apple’s purchase of PlaceBase has led many to predict that Apple will eventually offer its own mapping software with the iPhone, and to a large degree it makes a whole lot of sense. There’s no denying that Google Maps is a great app, but Apple just doesn’t like relying on third party software when it can create a homegrown alternative of its own. That’s just Apple’s DNA, and this move regarding mapping software could be the beginning of a concerted Apple effort to wean itself off of all things Google.
But you know who’s probably really pissed about Google’s latest move? The turn-by-turn guys who must be annoyed as all hell that Google is selling everything and the kitchen sink for free.