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:

MapQuest is trying hard to hold on

Despite being far behind in features, MapQuest has been remarkably resilient in holding onto their market share.  Google Maps continues to catch up, but is still below half of the market share that MapQuest is holding.

However, MapQuest continues to try to catch back up.  Today they’ve released a new beta version of their site, and it’s certainly a step forward.  The biggest change is that they’ve put a map directly on the home page, rather than forcing you to search or get directions.  The map includes some useful layers (gas prices, traffic) and seems pretty solid.

Another nice change is the option of “copy and paste” address input.  Rather than having to put each element in a separate field (address, city, state, zip), you can drop them in a single box (just like you already could on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft).

Maybe we can chalk it up to being beta, but even the basic map usage still lags behind the others.  There are two basic functions that are missing:

  1. I can’t use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out.
  2. The zooms are hard breaks, rather than the smoother zoom used by Google and Microsoft.

As we’ve said before, it’s great to see them trying to catch back up.  Is it too little, too late?  Or will these kinds of steps be enough to hold onto their audience?  They promise many more upgrades in coming months, so we’ll see what happens.