Google Maps Navigate, now available for Android 1.6

The writing was on the wall for the likes of Tom-Tom and Garman when Google announced they would offer the next logical progression of their Google Maps software: Navigation.

Take a look!

The stock of both Tom-Tom and Garman saw a very notable drop when Google mentioned it would begin offering turn-by-turn navigation with voice guidance. Up until this announcement Google Maps’ directions had been just that, directions superimposed on a map that couldn’t even rotate to follow your heading (North was always “up”).

With Android 2.0 phones coming to market (like the Motorola Droid) Google upped the ante and released a beta version of their Maps software with Navigation built in. What’s especially cool is Google’s solution uses actual imagery of your route, including “Street View” at turns (or so it’s been reported, I have yet to see this in action).

The bad news for the majority of Android users was that the Navigation features were only available to those with the 2.0 version of the OS; most of us only have version 1.5 or 1.6.

The more techie among us (myself and Mike Dopp included) were able to find the new maps installation file and figure out and apply a hack a system file that tricked the software into thinking it was running on a supported device. What this proved is that our hardware (a G1 in this scenario) were able to run the software without issue (well, pretty much without issue). More importantly, it told us that our hardware was capable of running the new software, and that the software was simply locking out all but a certain set of phones.

Today (November 23rd, 2009) Google released an updated version of Google Maps (3.2.1) which should work with all 1.6+ devices (my G1 included). Read all about it straight from the horses mouth Official Google Mobile blog.

Some things are conspicuously absent, such as the ability to speak “Navigate to (some place or address)” via voice command, but on the whole, it’s an impressive first leap into the GPS navigation arena.

All the others should be afraid. Very afraid.

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