Google Maps for Android has long offered the ability to get walking, biking, driving, or public transit directions plotted on a map. But the company has been gradually adding location-based Navigation features as well. First you could get free turn-by-turn voice navigation instructions while you were driving. Then Google added the same option for walking navigation. Now you can also use Google Maps Navigation while you’re on the bus.
In a nutshell, you just turn on the GPS on your phone, find transit directions, hop on the bus, and Google Maps will let you know when you’ve reached your stop or when it’s time to transfer. If you have to walk between stops, it will guide you there as well. Navigation will also work in the background so you can open another app to read the news or play a game and your phone will alert you before it’s time to get off the bus.
Unfortunately since the app relies on GPS, I suspect it won’t work on subways.
The company says the update also includes a beta feature designed to improve battery life when using navigation.
Google Maps 5.7 for Android also has new search features with category icons in the suggest window. Places you’ve previously received directions to will also show up in search suggestions now.
Google Maps is available as a free download from the Android Market and supports Android 2.1 and up.