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Mapquest Takes On Google Navigation With Free Android App

Following the success of its iPhone app, Mapquest has released a free, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation app for Android handsets. The new app differs in a couple ways from its older iPhone sibling. Most significantly it takes advantage of Android’s speech capabilities and includes OpenStreetMap data, which allows the app to be used outside the US and results in some enhanced local mapping within the US.

I’ve had a chance to use the app for the past 24 hours and can report that it generally works well, although there are a few areas and features that are rough around the edges. Mapquest’s SVP & GM Christian Dwyer told me he is pleased with the app but pointed out that it’s a “work in progress.”

In discussing the performance and success of the Mapquest iPhone app Dwyer said that it has seen “millions of downloads” and is used “at least at parity” with Google’s mapping app on the Apple device. Beyond this, Mapquest reports that 8.6 million people use Mapquest’s mobile site, 1.4 million of whom are on Android handsets. That growing Android user base was the impetus for creating the native Android app.

Here are some screens from the new Android app:

The following are the major features of the app:

  • Voice-guided/Turn-by-turn Navigation: The phone speaks directions regarding where and when to make a turn
  • Voice Search: Drivers can speak the desired destination for search and directions
  • Map Toolbar: Easily find restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations and parking with one click
  • Walking & Driving Directions: Recommends the best route and rotates the map based on orientation of travel
  • Live Traffic Flow/Incidents: Extensive coverage updated every 5 minutes

The OpenStreetMap feature — Mapquest has created a “parallel universe” of maps online using OpenStreetMap data — enables users to correct and contribute data, as well as providing international maps and directions. Once the device crosses out of the US the OpenStreetMap data kick in, although they’re available to US users as well.

Personalization is one feature not yet present on Mapquest’s Android app however it is present in the iPhone app (“My Places”). Yet it’s coming, as are a range of new features and content, which probably will include deals according to Dwyer. He also told me that third party developers are showing interest  in partnering with Mapquest as an alternative to defaulting to Google’s maps and navigation.

Like the iPhone app, users can search for businesses or points of interest by keyword or category. They can also browse by using icons at the bottom of the screen (pictured above). Each business profile page features rich content and the ability to call or navigate to a business. Some of the data on these pages are from IAC’s CityGrid.

As a viable navigation app and substitute for some of the paid products in the market, Mapquest, together with Google Navigation and Nokia’s free Ovi Maps, put further pressure on the PND vendors and paid subscription model (e.g., VZ Navigator) and force companies such as TeleNav to become more creative and inventive to justify their pricing. Android users can get the app by scanning the QR code below:

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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