Japan: Google launches free navigation

Image courtesy: Tech On.

Google Japan recently announced “Google Map Navi,” a charge-free car navigation service that can be used with Android-based mobile phones.

In addition to a route navigation function, it is possible to search for restaurants, public restrooms and other facilities located along the route.

Destinations and objects to be searched can be input by voice. By improving the route navigation function of Google Map, Google Japan realized the car navigation functions.

The service can be used with a mobile phone installed with Android 1.6 or later versions.

Google Inc is providing a similar service in the US and the Europe, and Google Japan customized it for Japanese users.

For example, there are many unnamed roads in Japan, but Google Map Navi can deal with them.

Moreover, the route navigation function of Google Map Navi enables to search for a route that does not include toll roads. This feature will be introduced into services being provided in other countries, according to Google Japan.

Though traffic information is provided for the service in the US, it will not be offered in Japan this time.

The route navigation function of Google Map Navi is only for automobiles. But Google Japan is planning to provide the service for pedestrians and bicycles in the future, said Riku Inoue, the company’s product manager.

In theory, it is possible for PND (personal navigation device) makers to develop Android-based devices by using the Google Map Navi service.

“If the latest version of Mobile Google Map and OpenGL run on a device, it can use Google Map Navi,” Inoue said.

However, to install Mobile Google Map in a device, it has to pass a compatibility test conducted by using a tool called Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS).

Currently, CTS can be used only for mobile phones. So, it is difficult to develop a PND that supports the Google Map Navi service.

At this point, Google Map Navi cannot be used with Apple Inc’s iPhone.

“We will make every effort to make the service usable on any platform, but, for now, we are not planning to offer the service for the iPhone,” Inoue said.

Courtesy: Tech On.

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