Google Maps Gets Walking Navigation on Android Phones

Google Sept. 9 said it has blended navigation and walking directions in its Google Maps for Mobile 4.5 application. Ideally, Walking Navigation will help users walk efficiently without getting struck by motor vehicles.

Google Sept. 9 said it has blended navigation and walking directions in its Google Maps application, making it easier for pedestrians with Android smartphones hoofing it around an unfamiliar place.

Google Maps Navigation, the turn-by-turn direction app Google began offering last year on the Motorola Droid, has been a huge hit for drivers enjoying the free GPS app. Now Google has extended this functionality to pedestrians.

Dubbed Walking Navigation, the feature is available in beta now on Google Maps for Mobile 4.5 on Android.

As the title suggests, Walking Navigation marries GPS navigation with walking directions to help walkers find more direct methods of finding their destination on foot.

Users of Android 1.6 handsets and later, such as the Google Nexus One, Motorola Droid or HTC Incredible, will choose the Walking option from the Navigation icon in Google Maps for Mobile 4.5. They must then plug in their destination address.

The Google Maps navigator will guide the user to his or her location of choice by spoken voice, but the phone will also vibrate to alert walkers to make a turn. The map, which renders images in satellite view, will also rotate with the user as they turn the phone.

"Use it like a virtual compass with satellite imagery to look ahead or help pick out landmarks along the way," advised Google software engineers Andrey Ulanov and Kevin Law.

Google Maps for Mobile on Android 4.5 also lets users catch a glimpse of their destination with the updated Google Street View function in Google Maps.

See how to use this smart navigation, which basically lets users move the Pegman icon around the screen to find their location, here.

To use this feature in Walking Navigation, users must download an update for the Street View on Google Maps app in Android Market separately from Google Maps.

Interestingly, Ulanov and Law offered the following caveat:

"Keep in mind that Walking Navigation is still in beta, and Google Maps may not always have up-to-date information or optimal walking routes. Whether you're walking or driving with Google Maps Navigation, you should always be safe and pay attention to road signs, follow signals and use good judgment about routes that can't be walked."

That advice seems pointed toward the woman who sued Google in May after getting hit by a car. She alleged Google Maps directions led her to a highway, where she was struck.

Now Google has officially warned users to be careful when using Walking Navigation.