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When it moved from being an add-on for a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) to become a standalone device, satellite navigation finally went mainstream. But not everyone wants a separate gadget for every function, even if that makes each one perform its specific task better. If you already have a powerful smartphone you always carry with you, and don't need satellite navigation very often, a simple app may be all that's required.
After a slew of capable sat-nav apps for the iPhone, including TomTom for iPhone, ALK CoPilot Live 8, and Navigon MobileNavigator, Google reckons it can go one better. Now, for the princely sum of no pounds and no pence, you can have satellite navigation on your Android phone.
It's called Google Navigation, and it comes as part of Google Maps. If you have an Android phone, it may already be installed, as it's included with the version 2.0 firmware release. However, you only require version 1.6 firmware to run it, and to upgrade to version 3.2 of Google Maps from the Android Store. You will also need to install a separate Text-to-Speech patch if you want verbal commands as you navigate.
Once you have all the necessary software, the navigation process begins as normal with Google Maps. You search for a location by name, address, or postcode. But now, alongside the ability to Get Directions is the option to Navigate to the destination. This loads Google Maps Navigation, which then calculates the route. It should be pointed out at this stage that, like Google Maps itself, Google Maps Navigation requires a data connection to download its routes and mapping data. So if you don't have this at the time you plan your route, you will not be able to use the service. If you veer off the route and recalculation is required, a data connection will also be needed. Without it, navigational instructions will cease.