Driving in country Victoria this afternoon I accidentally turned on my GPS navigation on my Android device to find out that Google has activated the free turn by turn navigation component of Google maps. Google was going to activate this option later this week however seems to have released the software earlier to Australian and New Zealand Android customers.

At first use, the Google navigation seems a lot faster and more accurate than my fixed car   GPS. Using the Samsung Galaxy S, the GPS found my location quickly, created the best route for travel and provided detail turn by turn navigation to my destination. I did have to download the free TTS (Text to Speech) from the marketplace to get the sound working. You can also apply the Google Layers software on top of the navigation to find restaurants, ATM’s (Automatic Teller Machines) and popular places on the map.

The Google maps version uses caching while you travel, just in case you loose 3G connection on the road. For 3 hours of road travel using the GPS, my data load was around 250KB which is excellent for detailed up to date maps, voice navigation and layers. You can also press the microphone button and speak to the GPS. You can navigate directly to address, places and landmarks by speaking your destination.

Google navigation is available free for all Android devices (1.6 and above). If you don’t already have it preinstalled on your Android device, you can download or upgrade free from the Android market. The current version Google Maps is 4.2. Google navigation in Australia is NOT available for the iPhone or Windows 7

Possibly due to hardware capabilities within these phone manufacturers. I believe Android devices support 3D capabilities while other phones don’t have this due to hardware restrictions.

It’s going to be hard for competitors within the GPS software market to compete with Google’s turn by turn navigation. No longer will you need to purchase a GPS for the car, when your phone can be used with updated information online for free. Works perfectly with the car dock option as well.

We haven’t tried the integrated “Traffic” option. If anyone has tried this option or found more uses and gadgets for Google maps and navigation, please leave your comments below.