Review: Google Maps Navigation

There’s been a bit of kerfuffle on the Internetworks about Google Maps Navigation lately.  Here are the Cliff’s Notes:  A recent, Android-only update to Google Maps added turn by turn navigation to the app.  That means that anyone with a supported mobile phone, unlimited data and a built in GPS can now use Google Maps Navigation as a route planner and in-car navigation tool.  For nowt.

Unfortunately, Google Maps Navigation has only launched in the USA so far – and only on Android 2.0 devices.

But in all the Twittering and gnashing of keys, no one seems to have noticed that the current incarnation of Maps on Android – available here in the UK – is pretty handy right now.  You can already do route planning, turn by turn navigation and 3G location.

I’ve been trialling an HTC Hero on Orange (full deposition coming later this week) and used the opportunity to give the current navigation features a go.  My verdict? They’re very handy – great for stomping around an unfamiliar city or taking a country walk – but the likes of Tom Tom and Navman don’t have to worry too much.  Not yet anyway.  

The new and improved Google Maps Navigation on the other hand, that includes juicy features like Street View navigation and voice control.  And you’ll never have to update a map again.