June 9, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
Google Maps Navigation is now navigating its way into several new countries. While people in Canada, France, Italy, and several other nations have waited anxiously to be able to get turn-by-turn voice navigation on their Android phones, that wait will end for many by the end of the day.
Beginning today, Google Maps Navigation will start rolling out to Android devices running Android 1.6 or higher in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland. The new version of Google Maps will be delivered through an update to the Android Market that will appear in the aforementioned countries (if it hasn’t already).
People running 1.6 or higher will be able to get voice directions, find businesses, see street view navigation, get traffic warnings, and use suggested search. Those who have 2.0 or higher will have the added bonus of using Voice Search.
For what it’s worth, this announcement now confirms what many have suspected all along: the main hurdle keeping Google Maps Navigation from coming to more countries is Google building its own map database in certain countries. I suspected that Canada would soon get GMN once Google returned to Ontario in April to re-do street view images in some cities. Street view cars have also been in Germany and Spain in recent months, signaling that Google needs to have its company-sourced map data before rolling GMN out to Android phones in a given country.
Next time you spot Google cars in your nation, know that things are closer than they seem.