Thursday, September 6, 2012

Google Maps Navigation and Live Traffic is now in India

 Google Guided Me!
This week has been fairly exciting for geo enthusiasts in India. Earlier we saw India's data portal go live as public beta. Though the data portal does not include any spatial data at present people are certainly hopeful about seeing them soon. Worldwide this month has been exciting due to numerous smart device launches lined up almost every week (Nokia, Amazon, Apple). With maps and GPS being an integrated part of most smart devices and growing smartphone adoption in India, just yesterday Google announced the launch of its voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and live traffic (for select cities at present) in India. 

Excerpt from Google Blog:
In India, you’ll have access to information about any of the thousands of cities, towns, roads, and points of interest that have been mapped by users in Google Map Maker. In other words, whether you’re heading to the Bengaluru airport for a business trip or visiting Agra’s world-famous Taj Mahal for a weekend of sightseeing with friends, Google Maps Navigation has you covered.
Google Navigation app comes by default with Android devices and one can either type or speak out the destination for the phone to start guiding in the right direction. Having a phone on car dashboard and having to look at it now and then to understand directions would be a great distraction especially when driving on busy Indian roads. Therefore, voice-guidance is a great welcome move by Google. For those who don't like to hear foreign voice guiding them on road, it can be replaced by Indian accent by selecting India as locale in device settings. Excited by the news I myself tried the app today while walking to office. The distance, direction and timings shown were simply perfect!
Hyderabad Traffic Map

Coming to the most exciting part, the live-traffic updates, the lucky cities to have it are Bengaluru, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad. Soon after the news went live yesterday I came across tweets from people trying to know how Google sources live-traffic data. Google has a really smart way of doing it

We anonymously combine speed and location information of GPS-enabled devices currently traveling on the road. This, combined with historic traffic data, helps us determine the traffic time estimate. IF you’d like to help make our estimates better through crowdsourcing and have a GPS-enabled phone, try using Google Maps for mobile the next time you’re in traffic.
Color coding is used to show the speed at which traffic moves in roads (Know more).

In India, other than Google Navigation, turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation is provided by Nokia (as Nokia Drive) and MapmyIndia.