Google Navigation Now Routes You Around Traffic


Google just put another nail in the coffin of dedicated GPS units and paid mobile apps. Google Maps Navigation now offers users the ability to route them around traffic jams. Until today, Navigation would simply calculate the most efficient route and send you on your merry way without checking traffic conditions. The new version, however, will look at both current and historical traffic data to calculate the best route to take. According to Google, Navigation users now use the app to drive more than 35 million miles per day.

google maps navigation traffic routing

Google Maps Navigation is only available for Android phones.

With this move, Google makes it even harder for dedicated GPS units and paid apps from providers like Navigon, TomTom and others to compete with its free offerings (though they still have some advantages, especially when it comes to working offline). On the iPhone, of course, Google provides the basic functionality for the Maps application, but doesn’t offer any turn-by-turn navigation there. It doesn’t look like this will change with the upcoming iOS 4.3 release. There have been persistent rumors that Apple could introduce its own navigation app in a future version of iOS, however, and that Google could bring Navigation to the iPhone as well.

11:26 am

Google Enlists Twitter in Hopes of Making Hotpot Go Viral


It’s hard to estimate just exactly how successful (or not) Google Hotpot, the company’s recently launched Yelp competitor, really is. Thanks to its integration with Google Maps and Google Places, it’s likely more popular than Google Buzz, though, and judging from the increase in ratings from Google users we’ve seen on Google Places lately, it’s probably working out well for Google. The company wants more publicity for Hotpot, however. Starting today, Google also lets you syndicate your ratings for local businesses from the Google Maps Android app to Twitter, marking this one of the first times that Google has enlisted Twitter in its tools to not just pull in information but also to syndicate it out.

The functionality itself is pretty straightforward. Users who rate local businesses in the Google Maps Android app will get a choice to post their reviews to Twitter. Tweets will include a link that point to the Google Places page for the specific business.

Also New: Google Latitude Wants to Make Meeting up in Person Easier

Another update to the Google Maps Android app today brings an interesting new feature to the Google Maps app that allows you to send messages to those friends who checked-in on Google Latitude recently and meet up with them in person without having to send multiple text messages. Instead of having to call or text them, you can just “ping” them to ask them where they are now. They will then receive a notification on their phone, allowing them to check in at a place where they would like to meet up with you.

This feature sounds a bit like the upcoming version of EchoEcho. The disadvantage of Google’s implementation of this, though, is that your friends have to be on an Android phone as well and the procedure for setting up in-person meetings doesn’t feel very intuitive so far.

9:46 am