As you may know, with the introduction of Android 2.1, Google Maps gained an additional function called Google Maps Navigation. This is a method of accessing maps that allows for voice-spoken and guided turn by turn navigation (similar to navigation functions offered by stand-alone GPS systems). It’s easy to install and set-up, just follow the directions below:
Step 1: Installing Brut Modified Maps
Google at this stage has not rolled out this turn by turn navigation to Australia yet, so a slightly modified Maps program is required in order to enable this function (free). You can download it from here or here. Version 13 is the current version of Brut Maps at the time of writing. Please follow my guide on how to install non-market apps here for install instructions. You do not need root access to install or run this program, but you do require Android 2.1 or higher.
Once installed, you will notice that the Brut Maps lives alongside the pre-installed Google Maps. Both look and function the same way, with some notable exceptions. Brut Maps allows:
- International navigation is enabled (more on this later)
- Multitouch pinch-and-zoom is enabled
- Map caching is now possible (What is this? By default, Google Maps loads data on the bitmap map tiles as you require, constantly streaming them from your data connection. Map caching allows the maps program to store these map tiles to your SD card for future reference. This means faster loading, and more importantly, map access for your route even if you have no access to mobile data!)
- Apart from that, Brut Maps functions the same way as Google Maps. You can search as normal, use layers, browser, get directions, etc. You can even remove Google Maps and use Brut Maps exclusively, which I have done.
Step 2: Two ways to access Navigation
Normally, once you find a destination to go to, you press “Directions” and this gives you a list of turns and distances to your destination, as displayed on Google Maps normally. However, this has some drawbacks, notably there is no voice nav, and the map does not follow your position. However, with Brut Maps you will notice once you search for a destination, there is a “Navigate” function available.
By pressing Navigate, instead of Directions, Maps now enters navigation mode. This allows for a 3D perspective of the map, with the map drawing method changing from bitmap tile-by-tile to the vector-based navigation method, as commonly used on GPS products. The camera will follow your vehicle and heading, and the next turn will be displayed at the top of the screen, as well as estimated time of arrival. You can also find detailed route info, select layers to display and choose alternative routes. This solution is as robust as standalone GPS units, less some of the additional features. A voice will also guide you along your route (you can configure the voice in Home => Settings => Text to Speech). If you wanted to, you can even drill down to the Google Street View of the upcoming turns, to see exactly what it looks like!
OK so that’s all fine and dandy, but what if you want to quickly go to one of your contact’s addresses, a bookmark or just rapidly search for a location? You don’t need to go through the whole procedure of launching maps and then launching maps navigation. Enter Nav Launcher (free). Nav Launcher is a 3rd Party program that allows you to quickly feed in an address to Maps Navigation and bypass launching normal Maps altogether. You can choose:
- An address from your Contacts List
- An address from your Favourites List (configurable)
- An address you’ve visited before
- An address you type in or
- An address you speak in (using Google’s voice recognition function)
Nice and easy to use, you can even do a voice search for a non-specific location, for example “Pizza in Doncaster” and it will guide you to the location. The first time you start Nav Launcher, make sure you hit settings and select Brut Maps as the default Maps program. That’s it, now enjoy free turn-by-turn voice guided navigation wherever you go!