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By 2 August 2011 | Categories: news

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After a long wait Google finally announced the availability of Google Maps Navigation (Beta) today, for smartphones operating on Android 1.6 and higher. Google Maps Navigation is an internet-connected GPS navigation or ‘satnav’ system, which provides turn-by-turn voice driving directions as a free feature of Google Maps.

Navigation uses a mobile device’s internet connection to provide users with the latest maps, which can be viewed at street-level or from above. As a result of the former there is no need to purchase map upgrades or manually update devices, as they will always utilise the most recent data from Google Maps.

Users will also be able to view their routes overlaid on 3D satellite views with Google’s high resolution aerial imagery. There is no need for a user to know an address, as he or she can simply type in a business name or even the type of business, just as they would on Google’s search page.

According to Google SA users must search for and download the newest release of Google Maps from the Android Market via their Android 1.6+ running smartphone, in order to get Google Maps with Navigation. However, in order to download this latest version (5.8.0) of Google Maps from the Android Market, you need a mobile device running Android 2.1 and up.

“Google Maps Navigation was built from the ground up as an internet-based GPS system, making certain features possible, such as being able to use Google Street View on your mobile,” said Brett St Clair, head of mobile for Google SA.

“Users can visualise directions turn-by-turn, overlaid on Street View imagery, and Navigation automatically switches to Street View as a destination is approached. South Africans can also now speak their destinations into their phones using Voice Search.”

In related news, Google also recently acquired software development company Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition (PittPatt), which specialises in the development of face recognition software for images as well as video.

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