The Google Maps Navigation app builds on Google Maps, which already comes as part of the operating system, by giving users visual and audio turn-by-turn directions from their current location (pinpoint by GPS) to a new destination.
Once we'd downloaded the Google Maps Navigation app from the Android Market, we found it was really easy to use. Once you've chosen between directions for driving or walking, simply enter your destination. You can enter a street name, postcode, or even type of place eg restaurant or post office, as your destination.
There's also an option to speak your destination. We found this correctly identified our speech roughly half the time.
You'll need to wait for your handset's GPS to identify your current location, which can take anywhere from a few seconds to over a minute depending on how strong the signal is, before the route is calculated.
A blue icon is displayed on the map at your current location, with a blue line marking the route the software has created. You can also view step-by-step instruction as a list, rather than on the map. Meanwhile, a female voice offers an audio version of the instruction.
We loved the fact there's plenty of customisation options, from being able to turn-off the audio navigation to switching between 3D satellite aerial image maps, street view and standard Google maps. You can even opt to have banks, ATMs and restaurants highlighted along the route in case you need to make a quick pitstop.
There are some negative points though. Unlike many satnav's, the app gives you the same estimated journey time no matter what point in the day your travelling. For example, it reckoned we'd be able to get from PCA Towers to the Kent-London borders in 39 minutes – a time achievable in the early hours of the morning but certainly not at rush hour. In fact the only indication of how congested your route is comes from Google's Traffic View, which colours roads in green, yellow, or red based on how busy they are. It won't reroute you to avoid traffic jams either.
We were impressed with the fact the Google Maps Navigation app uses a handset's internet connection to obtain the latest maps, users will never need to manually update or purchase new maps. Furthermore, unlike other free offerings, such as Skobbler's satnav software for Android phones, it's not ad-supported, which means you won't be bothered by constantly changing adverts.
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