Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) yesterday launched its free navigation app for Android devices. Owners of Android-powered smartphones only have to activate the maps app installed on the device and select the navigation option.
Google launched the navigation app in the US in late 2009, and subsequently extended the service to other countries. The free app adds value to Android devices for consumers who do not want to download navigation apps of other companies, which do not always work on every device or involve a fee to download.
The Google app has voice navigation, traffic updates, verbal input of the destination, navigation on an aerial photography map, and pedestrian navigation. Google's public transportation service is not yet available in Israel. The app also has Google Street View scenes of the destination upon arrival, making it possible to accurately identify the location.
Israel currently has three main navigation services, in addition to Google: the popular and free Waze Ltd., which offers crowd-sourcing traffic updates; Telmap's M8, which can be downloaded for free and offers a wide range of added value services, such as reserving parking spaces or restaurants; and NNG's iGo Primo, which launched for Android devices in Israel last week after being available for Apple iPhones and iPads for years. iGo costs NIS 260, in contrast to the other services.
Israeli users will only benefit from the competition. Just as Waze caused its rivals to offer their services for free and to seek revenue models based on collaborations with supplementary services or charging for updates, Google will likely cause rivals to improve their products and adapt them to more Android devices. In addition, Internet packages for other countries are becoming easier at some Israeli mobile carriers, permitting free navigation services without the need to buy special maps in other cities.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 13, 2013
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013
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