Update 3: Google has officially announced the launch of its voice navigation and live traffic information in six Indian cities. While most of the features has already been covered below, one interesting feature worth noting is that Google will also offers live traffic information on its search engine Google.com along with Google Maps service. For instance, if an user types in ‘Traffic in Bangalore’, he will be able to directly see the traffic conditions on Google.com.
Google also noted that it will take congestion into account in places wherever the traffic data is available, to provide better directions based to its users based on the current conditions.
Update 2: It looks like Google has also started offering live traffic information in its Google Maps service, as pointed out by NDTV. The traffic information is currently available on the web version, Android, and iOS apps of Google Maps. However, when we checked, we observed that Google Maps offers traffic information for only six Indian Cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai at the time of writing this article.
We are also not sure if Google added this feature as part of the Navigation service launch yesterday or sometime earlier in the month, since there is no official company announcement related to this development.
Update: While there is no official announcement from Google yet, the service went live around midnight for a significant number of people including us.
Earlier (Sep 4): It looks like Google is prepping up to extend its free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation service to India, starting with Google Maps for Android. This was first spotted by
TechWhack. Interestingly, the company had released an instructional video on its Google India YouTube account a few hours ago, elaborating on the Voice navigation feature and pulled it back within couple of hours. The video was private at the time of writing this article.
Phased Rollout? We tried accessing the service on a Galaxy Nexus, but got a popup stating that the service was not available in our region yet. However, Sushubh Mittal, (author of the TechWhack article), claimed on TechWhack’s twitter account that the service was working for him (screenshot), although he noted that the service has been working on his Nexus phone since he had bought it. In addition, we have also received reports claiming that the service has started working for them. Hence, we assume that Google is probably rolling out the service in a phased manner.
Google had introduced Google Maps Navigation on Android in October 2009, allowing users to make use of voice-based turn-by-turn navigation on their Android device. While the service was free, it was initially limited to only United States. Over the years, the service was extended to United Kingdom and several other countries like Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland. As of July 2011, the company claimed that Google Maps navigation provides over 12 billion miles of GPS-guided driving and walking directions per year.
Other Players: Nokia currently provides a free turn-by-turn navigation service on its Lumia range of Windows smartphones through Nokia Drive and on Symbian phones through Nokia Maps. One thing worth nothing though is that, Nokia provides offline navigation through these services while Google currently doesn’t offer offline navigation yet. Earlier this year, Google had however introduced offline maps to Google Maps for Android in July 2012, which was previously available as a Google Maps Labs feature, offering offline maps for more than 100 countries.
MapmyIndia also offers a paid offline navigation app on various mobile platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Symbian and TomTom had partnered with HTC in March 2012, to offer its navigation service on HTC smartphones in India.