Google Navigation: GPS, Turn-By-Turn Directions?


Bombshell. It is definitely a logical play but up until now the rumors and speculation have been fairly loose. Google didn’t announce that they are developing an extension to their Google Maps application that would add live, GPS-based Turn-By-Turn navigation/directions but they might as well have:


Google spokeswoman Carolyn Penner noted that consumers frequently ask the company to add navigation to Google Maps, but declined to comment on future products.

The quote is from a article that explores the possibility of Google Navigation software. Industry insiders expect it to happen, noting its just a matter of time. They’ve already got the mapping data as they recently stopped renting it from TeleAtlas. They’ve already got Google Maps, Streetview and Traffic indicators. They’ve already got Google Latitude which pinpoints where you and your friends are on a map using GPS. And of course they’ve got Android, a platform they can easily use to distribute Google Navigation to millions and millions of people for free.

For free? Obviously. Google’s entire business model is based on providing the highest quality products/services to consumers for free and monetizing them with targeted advertising. Knowing EXACTLY where people are and where they’re going gives the opportunity for EXTREMELY targeted advertising.

Did you know that Google already has an Official Blog for their Google Street and Google Earth team?


Dive into some of the articles, updates and videos on that blog and you’ll see how crazy interested Google is with their mapping products. The scariest part of all this (for me anyways) is the potential innovation that Google could bring to the navigation industry. Take a look at a couple recent videos (below) from Google concerning their mobile map layers and their Street View desktop experience and see how Google is moving into territory previously untouched. Google dares to push the limits while others sit complacent with marketshare. Whether its a Mobile OS, Desktop OS or Navigation software… Google is taking over.

This would create a HUGE disruption to the industry. Why pay a bunch of money for apps/service like Telenav, Sprint Navigation, VZNavigator, TomTom, Garmin, CoPilot and others when you can use Google Navigation for free? The argument would be quality. I don’t know about  you, but I already prefer Google Maps to the majority of mapping software out there and routinely use the current Turn-By-Turn with arrows to navigate on the run with Android.

It wasn’t long ago that Google totally changed the mobile landscape and it seems they’re slated to do the same with Navigation. This is a perfect example of why Android is SUCH an integral part to their future success, whether the platform itself makes them money or not. They now have a medium to leverage their products that DO make them money because they offer superior services that – you guessed it – are also free.

I keep calling it Google Navigation because if they WERE to launch GPS Navigation software with Turn-By-Turn directions I think that is exactly what they would call it. Simply put, Google Nav / Navigation / Navigator just makes the most sense. Why not tie it into public transit so that you can see exactly how far away your next bus, subway, metro or Water Taxi is? The name would allow them to expand Google Navigation to encompass new features beyond “Turn-By-Turn Directions without worrying about a weird name.

We know Garmin is launching an Android-based Nuvifone in the near future… is it DOA? There was a lot of hoopla when Garmin announced they would be entering the mobile phone market but that has died down. Now the tables are about to reverse – can you picture an Android-based MID whose primary function is to act as a Google Navigator while it includes all the other good stuff you’ve come to enjoy with Android?

Google is taking over the world. Seriously. And from my vantage point… that isn’t a bad thing.

[Thanks Justin]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. We already knew this didn’t we? The leaked moto droid specs listed turn-by-turn navigation under the gooogle apps section.

  2. It’s kinda frightening to think how much Google is going to be integrated into our life with all these products they’re working on. As much as I’d like them to succeed and stick it to Microsoft (and *sigh* Apple too with how closed they’re making their products) I approach it with some reserve.

  3. To the author: I suspect you are on Google’s payroll and if not my apologies. Your article’s staunch defense of whatever Google is up to is nescient. Google can afford to provide free services because they have a near monopoly on search and if they are to offer a free gps navigation turn-by-turn soft, what is going to happen to companies that depend on providing similar software/hardware solutions for their survival. What you are applauding is a Monopoly in the making and Google must be put in check by competition watchdogs in the US and elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Google and I use most of their products and services, but don’t make an excuse for them to provide free services if their main aim is to become a web 2.0 version of Microsoft.

  4. this would be a sick addition to android devices. we just finished a trans-cali road trip, and my sis with the g1 was designated navigator, because that little device could do it all! a free turn-by-turn would just blow the competition out of the water.

  5. I’d let google fuck me in the ass. I love em.

  6. I wonder if a Google Navigation addition to maps was one of the driving forces (pardon the pun) behind adding that system wide text-to-speech service in Donut. If Maps spoke out the turns that you get when you pull up directions on your phone using the TTS service, the only thing they would need to add that isn’t already in place on every android phone would be the ability to auto reroute when you don’t take the turn they laid out for you. If this rumor is true, I’m going to cry tears of joy.

  7. Brien, doesn’t standard Google Maps for Android have an integrated navigation?

  8. @Morten

    You will have to wait for Google Sodomizer to be realeased…It is only available in beta form now.

  9. Where’s the “bombshell”? I was expecting to hear how you got some insider info. Am I missing something? Sounds like you are just speculating like the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good read… just seems like the title/intro was misleading.

  10. Turn-by-turn would probably only be for the US, as that’s were Google has now got their own mapping data. For the rest of the world they (still?) use maps from other providers where they probably have to pay a lot for turn-by-turn.

  11. Google has hinted before that the *only* reason they couldn’t offer turn-by-turn directions on Google Maps (and explicitly forbid this in their Maps API EULA) is because of contractual agreements with their map data providers. The most important part of this blog post is the observation that they stopped renting map data from TeleAtlas (/NavTeq). You will see only “(C) Google” on the bottom of most maps now. It seems that they are still using Sanborn data for map features now (buildings etc.) but not for vectors. I imagine that the Sanborn features will go away once Google Local gets good enough.

  12. @morten
    i dont know if i would go that far, but i would definitely allow them to give me a rim job.
    the day will come where google has enough information to completely run our lives for us. it will be like a 1984 big brother…and we will love him very much.

  13. I think the coolest part will be the integration of google traffic data with the turn by turn directions. Since they have live traffic now (crowdsourced from mobile devices it’s natural for them to integrate this into the directions automatically routing you on the shortest time trip based on current traffic. I’ve been thinking about this possibility for years and I didn’t think it would be free and come on my cell phone :)

  14. so in the first video it tells us we can go to to download the newest version with layers.

    is the map system we already have on android phones the same thing or is this something newer?

  15. If the so called Google Nav did come fruition, I don’t think that it would necessarily impose a monopoly – there would still be a niche for standalone GPS nav units. The one draw back the I have with the current G Maps is use in mountainous or remote areas with limited cell/data coverage (e.g. the Sierras in CA). Unfortunately, the only way that I can preload a map in G Map is browse ahead (at a hopefully good zoom level) and hope the previewed area will remain in the cache. If I zoom in or out, I run the risk purging some of the cache. I guess that is one of the strong points about Delorme’s Street Atlas (mapping vendor) PDA support, where I could preload my gf’s palm treo when we went to the Rockies a couple years ago. (Other than that, the treo sucked). I was actually hoping that Delorme was gonna create a PDA client for Android, but no such luck afaik. (Could be another rev stream for them if they could nav a way to pull their head out of there ass)

  16. Pretty soon little green robots will run the world… instead of iRobot, it will be gRobot.

    Go Google, I love your products.

  17. I like Google, Hell I’d let them fuck my sister! But seriously, I see nothing wrong with Google-opoly unless they suddenly turn evil… Don’t turn evil Google!

  18. There’s one difference between Microsoft and Google monopolies… Google makes quality things, and his profit model is not based on selling crap. I’ve had 4 pdas to this moment, 3 winmo and 1 android, and I’ve seen more updates (and FREE updates) in 6 months with android than in 4 years with winmo… Wellcome monopoly of my dreams.

  19. google is about to get a lot more informations about my life. Even more than my isp does.
    a few years ago, i already found a creepy side to gmail. i remember a friend writing nsa had put money into this.

  20. @okubax

    Interesting ethics question, but I disagree with your assertion. For Google to have a Monopoly of navigation systems, they would be required to not only eliminate the current competition, but prevent consumers from using future navigation products – in a similar fashion to how Microsoft basically forced users to use Office and their operating systems. Ironically, Microsofts monopolies have paved the way for Google’s ‘open’ strategy.

    Who knows if Google will change their act down the road – but the strategy they are using now is not ‘monopolistic’. It doesn’t make much sense for them to take the Microsoft approach when their current approach is successful and anti-microsoft.

  21. And it’s alive!!! It’s HUGELY fantastic – gongratulations on the timing with the news guys, you have good tipsters. And the software will not only make the satnav companies quickly bust but can be a driver for the whole platform. I’m definitely switching from s60 Symbian to Android now (or on my next contract renewal). I’ve been using Nokia Maps, but always added POIs first from Google Maps (they share the database on Symbian phones), but now, it’s SO revolutionary, that it’s even hard to imagine :)

  22. “For Google to have a Monopoly of navigation systems, they would be required to not only eliminate the current competition, but prevent consumers from using future navigation products”

    Eliminate the competition? Easy: Google release a free product. Who’s going to pay for navigation GPS when a credible alternative is free?
    Prevent future competition? Easy: What company is going to invest huge amounts of money to release a new GPS product with a projected revenue stream of $0? Especially considering Google’s near global reach.

  23. And here i Tromsoe, if you where to trie and use this google nav to get to nattmaalsveien you would end nowhere, because its not on their maps yet. Why can’t google use and build upon Openstreetmap data, but have to reinvent the wheel by doing it all by them self.
    Me, I would love to see google involving them self with Openstreetmap, but then if they want to do all the work double up then by all means let them.

  24. “What company is going to invest huge amounts of money to release a new GPS product with a projected revenue stream of $0?”

    What you are describing, technically, is not a Monopoly. Companies could still create a product that would work with phones or cars – Google isn’t creating an atmosphere where this isn’t feasible. Having the best product (assuming Google’s product is good, which I’m sure it will be) does not make you a Monopoly. It just means you are more innovative and creative. For instance, Garmin sells watches to runners, builds GPS modules within cars, etc. There are opportunities to improve your product and warrant the prices. Listen, I understand the point being made – it’s just not a Monopoly based on what their current business model is.

    Google is changing the landscape for these enterprises, not eliminating it.

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