Google Maps Navigation coming to Android 2.0

I’ve been saying for a while that I think Android will overtake iPhone in 2010, and recent news seems to be pointing that direction.  First you have the impressive-looking Verizon Droid, which comes out in early November.  By all accounts it will be an awesome device.  It will be the first phone running the Android 2.0 operating system.  Now Google has sweetened the deal even more.

Today they announced that Android 2.0 devices (starting with the Droid) will come with Google Maps Navigation.  This is similar to TomTom and other devices, but with a few big advantages.  The main one, of course, is that it’s free.

Not only that, but it has some cool features:

  • POI and road data loaded on the fly.  Always up-to-date, no need to run “updates”.
  • Search in plain English.  Don’t type the address (unless you want to).  Just type the name of your destination and go.
  • Search by voice
  • Traffic view.  They’ve integrated the traffic data, which makes obvious sense.
  • Search along route.  I’ve always wanted a feature like this on my Garmin.  Very cool
  • Satellite view.  I’ve always wanted this, too.  It’s weird on most GPS devices when you’re in a parking lot — it’s just like you’re in a field.  This will help.
  • Street View.  This is slick.  To get a preview of what your next turn looks like, just double-tap the map and it’ll zoom you in there to take a peek.

All in all, this sounds pretty sweet.  Not only does it sound like possibly the best GPS software out there, it doesn’t cost a thing.  Being Android-only will certainly hurt it in the short-term, but long-term it will provide a big boost.

Will they ever bring this software to the iPhone?  I’m sure they’d love to, but I doubt Apple will allow it.   Time will tell.  Check out the video below for a bit more info:

A ton more 3D buildings in Google Earth

As reported by the Google Earth Blog, a ton of new 3D buildings have been released into Google Earth.  They include, among other things, thousands of building generated by people using their new “Building Maker” tool.

If you find any other major cities that have been updated as well, please let us know.

A whole bunch of minor updates to Google Maps

Google has just rolled out a slew of minor updates to Google Maps — changing road colors, outline colors, number of roads shown at each zoom level, etc.

TechCrunch summarized it best:

…unless you spend hours looking at Google Maps everyday, you probably aren’t going to realize when a road outline has been toned down, for example. But looking at the side-by-side images, it’s clear to see that the new look is much nice. Gone is much of the clutter cause by darkened street outlines.

Google’s description of the changes:

Today’s changes are intended to keep the same information-rich map while making it easier to pick out the information that is most useful. The changes affect both the ‘Map’ and ‘Hybrid’ styles, and include numerous refinements to color, density, typography, and road styling worldwide. For example, in map view, local and arterial roads have been narrowed at medium zooms to improve legibility, and the overall colours have been optimized to be easier on the eye and conflict less with other things (such as traffic, transit lines and search results) that we overlay onto the map. Hybrid roads have gained a crisp outline to make them easier to follow, and the overall look is now closer to an augmented satellite view instead of a simple overlay.

It seems to be a great little upgrade.  Check out the gallery below to see a bunch of before/after shots provided by Google.

3D Map of Bournemouth with shockingly high detail

Ordnance Survey has completed a three year project, compiling data from 700 million laser beams and creating a highly-detailed map of the town.  The laser data was combined with 2D maps and with photos taken from the air.  The final result can be seen in the video below:

With this map, Bournemouth claims to be “the best mapped place on the planet”.  That may be partially true, but a map via YouTube can only do so much.  If they can push this data to Google Earth, or at provide some kind of viewing software, it’ll be a different story.

The service will be rolled out to the rest of Britain eventually, but likely not for at least five years while they perfect the new method.

A bunch of additions to StreetView

According to the Google Earth Blog and Google Maps Mania, a whole bunch of cities have been added to StreetView.  They include Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Prague, Quebec, Toronto and Vancouver.

Check out some of the great locations that Keir has found in Canada and in Prague, and be sure to submit your new finds to the Google Earth Hacks StreetView gallery.