Google Maps Navigation: Free Turn-by-Turn Directions for Android Phones

Google announced Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 today — turn-by-turn navigation for Google Maps running on Android smartphones, using the phones’ Internet connection to fetch up-to-date map, direction and traffic data. Also satellite imagery and Street View. Also, it’s free, thanks to the fact that Google owns its own street data in the U.S., no longer relying on Tele Atlas; its terms of service with the mapping providers prevented them from doing something like this before.

James Fee bemoans the development, likening Google to Microsoft with this move, which is hard to interpret as anything but a shot across the bow of car navigation system makers. “The Walmartization of technology continues. Why pay for anything if Google will eventually give it away free?” (You make that seem like a bad thing, James.) He also points out that it’s U.S.-only (because of Google’s data) and Android-only: while, as James says, no one owns an Android phone, what do you think is going to happen to all the hundred-dollar navigation apps on the iPhone if its next iteration of Google Maps comes with free navigation? Because I wouldn’t bet against that happening.

John Gruber: “Methinks the end is near for expensive dedicated GPS systems.”