Google Maps turns seven, is the nail in Sat Nav’s coffin nigh?

Google Maps turns seven, is the nail in Sat Nav’s coffin nigh?
Editor at TechForge Media. Often sighted at global tech conferences with a coffee in one hand and laptop in the other. If it's geeky, I'm probably into it.

The end for satellite navigation manufacturers is surely nigh – shipments of dedicated GPS units are down to 28 million shipments in 2012 whilst smartphone apps have grown to 150 million according to Berg insight, and now the consumer will soon have built-in mapping applications more capable than those released by firms such as TomTom, CoPilot, and Garmin.

Google graced Android users yesterday with a brand-new version of the popular Maps app first shown at its I/O Developer Conference back in May, now at version 7. Featuring a brand-new intuitive interface alongside comprehensive, clear, detailed maps; which are quite frankly unrivalled.

Mountain View’s favourite web services company has been in the mapping game for a long-time; its nearest competitor would be the crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap. Yet Google, as per usual, goes one step further with ‘Street View’ and 3D-mapping capabilities.

Street View first started as a – seemingly ambitious – project to map the world from street level using adapted cars carrying cameras. The company took its ambition sky-high by sending backpackers up regions such as Everest, and specialty boats across the sea.

Talking of “sky-high”, the company uses a unique way of mapping buildings in 3D from planes which fly over cities taking pictures from various angles. Back on the ground, they’ve even started mapping indoor locations.

Did I mention Google’s recent acquisition of the incredible crowd-sourced Waze start-up? No? Well its solution easily offers the most up-to-date reporting of traffic conditions and accidents which could affect your journey in real-time.

The best part of Google’s services? They’re available everywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using Android or iOS; you’re helping to crowd-source the success of Maps.

Google only has to integrate Waze into the main application, along with lane assistance support by version 8, and they have a – quite literally – unbeatable product.

Or is it? Garmin at least is refusing to give up without a fight, and is still trying to innovate where they can with products such as this rather nifty windscreen projector device for directions.

What do you think about Google’s latest Maps release? Do Sat Nav manufacturers have any chance?

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