As you might already know from our earlier post this morning, Google will be introducing a new version of Google Maps on Android 2.0 which will include Google Maps Navigation. Google Maps Navigation is a turn-by-turn navigation system done the Google way. It includes many of the features we have all come to love from Google Maps (traffic, layers, search, streetview) to help you find your way from point A to point B.
- Search in plain English. No need to know the address. You can type a business name or even a kind of a business, just like you would on Google.
- Search by voice. Speak your destination instead of typing (English only): "Navigate to the de Young Museum in San Francisco".
- Traffic view. An on-screen indicator glows green, yellow, or red based on the current traffic conditions along your route. A single touch toggles a traffic view which shows the traffic ahead of you.
- Search along route. Search for any kind of business along your route, or turn on popular layers such as gas stations, restaurants, or parking.
- Satellite view. View your route overlaid on 3D satellite views with Google’s high-resolution aerial imagery.
- Street View. Visualize turns overlaid on Google’s Street View imagery. Navigation automatically switches to Street View as you approach your destination.
- Car dock mode. For certain devices, placing your phone in a car dock activates a special mode that makes it easy to use your device at arm’s length.
For now, Google is only rolling out Google Maps Navigation to the Android platform, but I would not be surprised if eventually it made its way to Windows Mobile and even the iPhone. The best thing about the new application is that it is free. no more paying monthly $10 a month to your carrier of software provider for turn-by-turn navigation. Google has put up a little demonstration video of how it all works. So sit back, relax, and let Michael (Google product manage) take you for a short tour of what Google Navigation has to offer.
A few days ago, I casually recommended the Handcent SMS app in my post about the Sprint HTC Hero messaging app glitch. Long story short, the Hero Messaging app was causing the battery to drain and replacing it with a new one from the Android Market fixes the issue. I got a few comments on the post and quite a few Twitter replies, mainly praising the Handcent app. I covered a few other the app’s features, but I thought it you guys might enjoy a thorough write-up on it to give you a better idea why I enjoy the app so much.
Handcent is a replacement SMS app for the Android platform. The first time I downloaded Handcent was back in early May. At the time, Hancent has some neat features which made it better than the standard Android SMS app, but since I was constantly flashing my G1, I found it quite annoying to install the app every few days. Over time though, Handcent was continually updated with new features and now has evolved into one of the most feature rich sms apps for Android.
Customization: Handcent can be customized to your heart’s content. The app allows you to choose various skins (Hero or iPhone), themes (light or dark), and conversation styles (Handcent classic, Hancdent, iPhone, Android) so that your sms conversations take on the feel that you want. Hancent also gives you the option to add a custom wallpaper to your messaging screen, change the font style, add or remove contact pictures, and even add in a signature to your sms.
Back in early August, I wrote up a short review of Album Art Grabber. It’s a simply app that was created by My Little Big Apps for the sole purpose of finding your missing album art for all the music on your Android Phone. To my knowledge, Album Art Grabber is the only app on the Android Market that does this and frankly it does an amazing job. Every so often, I check the Android Market to see how the some of the apps I have reviewed are performing. I was shocked to see that Album Art Grabber had only sold between 500-1,000 copies. To me this is simply astonishing. Less than 1,000 people have been willing to spend $2.00 on an app that makes you life more simple and your music more beautiful. Ok, so Album Art Grabber is not for everyone I guess since not all of the 3 million+ Android users use their device as their main music player. We’ve heard gripes from Android developers saying that the Android Market doesn’t produce enough revenue for them. Keep in mind that the progress and success of the Android platform is largely tied into how successful and profitable the Android Market is.
So I encourage you, if you use your Android phone to listen to your tunes, head on over to the Android Market and puck up a copy of Album Art bragger. You won’t regret it.
Note: My Little Big Apps did not contact me or ask me to write this little rant. I personally believe that they have created a great product that more people should buy. We spend $1.50 on a Coke from a vending machine. Why can’t we spend that on an app that we get to keep?
Custom home screens appear to be all the rage these days on the Android platform. Just shortly after the G1 launched last fall, apps like aHome and Open Home, and Panda hit the Android Market. HTC has even gotten into the game with their Sense UI on the HTC Hero. The idea is simple. Create a customized home screen app to give users a different UI or experience. Now, Larva Labs is getting into the game as well. You might know them more for their games such as Retro Defense or Word Pops, but Larva Labs appears to be committed to giving you a unique home screen unlike all the others out there. The Larva Labs Intelligent Home Screen offers more of a data centric perspective which allows you to stay on top of all your information and feeds without the clutter of icons or widgets. To be honest, it actually looks a lot more like the standard view on a Windows Mobile handset than anything we have seen on android before. But don’t let that put you off. One of the major criticisms that Android and the iPhone have both gotten is that they are app centric handsets, not data centric. The Intelligent Home Screen pulls all the data from your Calendar, Email, Phone Stocks, News, Twitter, Weather, and more and displays them all on the home screen in layered fashion. You can even prioritize the information by dragging the feed up or down on the screen and by color coding. And if you need more details from any of the feeds, just tap the feed icon on the right side. The idea is simple and elegant and might be the key to making the Android platform a more business centric handset.
We have a few more images after the jump and a short video of the Intelligent Home Screen in action.
Source: Android and Me
Earlier this week, the Augmented Traffic team released version 1.0.3 of their Augmented Traffic Views app for the Android system. This app is the latest in the wave of augmented reality apps, apps which overlay the android camera and blur the line between the real world and the virtual world.
The Augmented Traffic app is available in approximately 25 metro locations, and uses the city’s traffic cameras to provide real-time traffic information for commuters. For the last few days I have been testing this application on my daily commute.
I have been very impressed with the speed at which the app picks up your location. The location feature has the same level of accuracy we have come to expect with Google maps, and manages to pick up your location in about 5 seconds. Very quick compared to some of the other GPS apps out there.