Android 1.6 Gets Google Maps Navigation

Google has announced the rollout of the free Google Maps Navigation feature for Android version 1.6, following the availability a couple weeks ago for Android 2.0. This is the first turn by turn GPS nav app to be totally free, and is making waves in the GPS world; as you can imagine the folks at TomTom and Garmin aren’t too thrilled with this move.

Navigation brings GPS based voice guidance and rerouting for mobile phones running Android, including maps, Google search via text or spoken word, traffic data and street view images. You can now overlay geo based information on your route map like Wikipedia articles about destinations, public transport route lines, and other data.

Devices that run Android 1.6, or Donut, as it is code-named, include the HTC Tattoo, Sony Ercisson Xperia X10, Acer Liquid, T-Mobile myTouch 3G and T-Mobile G1. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these handsets, and live in the U.S., then the beta of the updated Google Maps version can be downloaded from the Android Market and you can start using the new Navigation feature right now. Others will have to wait. Unless you want to go into the modding process discussed in this forum post, where some clever hackers have figured out how to get the service to work outside the U.S., and even on non Android 2.0 phones. It’s fairly involved, though, so use at your own risk of bricking your phone.