Google Maps For Android Update Brings Turn-By-Turn Sidewalk Navigation

You can now use the Google Maps app on your Android phone for a long walk in an unfamiliar neighborhood. The latest app brings the turn-by-turn navigation feature, hitherto available only for vehicular navigation, to users who travel by foot. This Android application had until now offered walking directions to its users though turn-by-turn navigation was not possible.

However, here is some caveat for the short term. The app is still in its beta. This means that the app can make the mistake of including directions that do not contain sidewalks. Besides this, the new update also includes a omnipresent search window along with one-tap solutions to launch Places and Layar screens to explore your neighborhood better.

If you are eager to check this new update out, hop over to the Android marketplace and download this application.
Google Maps for Android OS

GM OnStar eNav Integrated With Google Maps

Early this month,we had written about a partnership signed between General Motors and Google that will bring the Android Operating System to the GM’s in-car cabin tech suite. We had said that the new technology could potentially replace GM’s OnStar turn-by-turn navigation system by 2011.

Now, it appears that General Motors may want to bring more features to OnStar while the work on the Android-based cabin tech suite takes its time. The company has now announced that GM cars equipped with the OnStar turn-by-turn navigation system will now be additionally powered by Google Maps. This will enable these drivers to search for locations using Google Maps and send these directions to their turn-by-turn navigation system on their vehicle.

Nick Pudar, OnStar VP of New Business Development says,

“eNav is a perfect solution for subscribers who like the flexibility of being able to use Google Maps to plan their trips in advance, but without the hassle of bringing printed maps into the vehicle. The eNav feature of our Turn-by-Turn service allows drivers to keep their eyes, hands and minds where they need to be – on the road. And if they ever need help on the road, they can always just push the Blue OnStar Button to speak to a live advisor.”

The feature is expected to be available on all models released after 2006. You can check this video out for a preview of the latest feature

Google Maps To Undergo Minor UI Upgrade

The Google Maps and Street View could get a minor upgrade to their user interface. Currently, the navigational controls on these mapping applications appear separate from the actual image area. According to a patent application filed by Google with the US Patents & Trademark Office, the new UI could bring these controls on top of the location being viewed.

Google explains that such a change could make better use of the screen space.

“Conventional navigation controls are often located on a tool bar in the UI which is separate from the image display area. Having the navigation controls located at a different location in the UI than the imagery can consume screen space which could be otherwise used for providing additional UI functionality, advertising and the like. Moreover, having the navigation controls separate from the imagery can force the user to take their eyes off the imagery while navigating.”

The application notes that this will also improve upon one other important navigational element. Currently, users have to navigate incrementally through clicks – either on the navigational controls on the top corner of the page or by flicking through the image itself. The new controls, the patent application says, will let users to merely click on the navigational wheel to denote navigation and merely drag the cursor to various directions to see the mapping application respond appropriately.

“The user rotates imagery by clicking on any portion of the rotation control 302 and dragging the cursor to affect the rotation. The rotation control 302 allows the user to rotate smoothly in all directions without incremental stops. In some implementations, the rotation control 302 includes “sticky” points at North, South, East and West to help the user hit an exact target orientation.”

Google Maps Patent

Google maps patent application

The application was filed in March of this year and has been made public only recently.

Ford ‘Send To SYNC’ To Pull Maps Info From Mobile Phones

Imagine a situation where you are on the road and your friend just texts you the location you need to drive down to. Find it difficult to read the directions from your mobile? Ford has introduced a new ‘Send to SYNC‘ feature that can pull location information from bluetooth-enabled mobile phones to provide voice-activated location directions from Google Maps on your in-car sat-nav system. This is an extension of Ford SYNC.

Doug VanDagens, the director at Ford Connected Services Solutions  Organizationsays,

“With Send to SYNC, you can map a destination at home, at work – wherever you have connectivity – and when you get to your car, it already knows where you want to go. It’s convenient and it eliminates the waste and distraction of paper maps, conserving resources while helping drivers keep their eyes on the road.”

The Ford ‘Send to SYNC’ functionality is expected to launch later this month and is the only such application available for free.

[via Gizmodo]

New Accelerometer Based Navigation In The Works For Google Maps Mobile App

Navigation through the Google maps app on your smartphone can get even more exciting as a new patent from Mountain View reveals. In this patent application titled “Navigation In a Three Dimensional Environment Using An Orientation Of A Mobile Device“, the company illustrates a 3D navigation system that does not require touch based input and instead makes use of the device’s accelerometer input to navigate.

There are some interesting input methodologies described.

Helicopter Module

The new helicopter module on Google Maps could offer a navigation from an altitude..Tilt your smartphone in the direction you want to navigate and the helicopter module will take you through in that direction

Google Maps Helicopter module navigation

The patent is not about accelerometer based navigation alone. Here are a few touch screen based methodologies described

Anchored Navigation

“With one free hand to navigate, several user interface gestures may use two fingers. This section describes two user interface gestures using two fingers–anchored look-around and anchored helicopter. Each user interface gesture has one finger initially stationary with the other moving. The stationary finger may touch the screen before the moving finger. The initial relative position of the stationary and moving fingers may determine whether the user enters an anchored look-around navigation mode or an anchored helicopter navigation mode.

Google maps anchored navigation

There are a lot more navigation methodologies described which you may check out from the patent application.

Google Store Views To Let You Window Shop?

Search Engine Land has reported that they have received a tip from a New York based retailer who claims Google visited their store to capture images of the interior of their store for a new Google Maps based product, ‘Store Views‘. SEL writes

“Google Store Views will allow people to essentially walk into the store, off of Google Street Views. So imagine you are looking at this store, and then you can click on the door to enter it, all on Google Maps. Then when you enter the store, you can wall through it.”

While Google has refused to comment over this speculation claiming they always experiment with newer features and have nothing to announce, I do not see any particular value in such a tool.

Unlike Street View, the layout of a store is immaterial to most users. The only thing that would interest users is if a particular brand of product is available at any particular store; in which case, Google will have to revisit the shop frequently to update their pictures – a very unscalable model for a Google Maps based product.

It is possible that Google integrates Google Checkout to products on shelf on the virtual store which is again a difficult proposition considering the items on shelf change very frequently.

What do you think Google intends to do with such a Store View feature. Let us know what you think.

[via Search Engine Land]

Google Wants To Integrate Maps With Real Estate Search?

Signs that recession are behind us can already been gauged by the fact that G has started eyeing companies to acquire once again. But here are sure shot signs about recession getting over – Google is apparently looking to buy the real estate search engine Trulia.

Google is said to be in talks with the Bay area based startup for a possible price of around $150 million to $200. Trulia is a VC funded startup and is currently funded for close to $33 million from Accel partners and Sequoia capital.

But the more interesting part of the news is what Google has in mind for the real estate search engine. Apparently, Google sees a good fit for a real estate search engine to be integrated with Google Maps. So, you may not only search for real estates around a particular area, but can also have a virtual look at it. Call it the next gen househunting!

We are still not sure about how close we are to a deal sealing. We will let you know as and when that happens.