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Friday, April 23, 2010, 05:30 am PT (08:30 am ET)

Google may bring free turn-by-turn navigation to Apple iPhone [u]

Google this week said it plans to bring Google Maps Navigation, its free turn-by-turn GPS software already available on Android, to other platforms, but disputed reports that it was confirmed for the iPhone [updated].

According to MacUser, Google officials confirmed at a London, England, press conference that its satellite navigation software would be coming to "other" platforms, including the iPhone. No dates for potential availability were given.

Update: Contacted by PCWorld, a Google spokesperson clarified and said that while the company will bring its software to "other platforms," it has not confirmed the software is coming to the iPhone. "We did not say we would bring it to iPhone, we said to date we've had it on Android and that in the future it may come to other platforms but did not confirm this will be coming to iPhone at all," the spokesperson said.

This week, the service became available to the first countries in Europe, with the U.K. and Ireland getting access to the software. It is currently available on handsets running Android 1.6 and higher, and is available as a free download from the Android Market.

Google Maps Navigation was introduced last year when the Motorola Droid first went on sale in the U.S. It offers 3D views, turn-by-turn voice guidance and automatic routing. The service requires an Internet connection to download maps and routes, and uses a persistent connection to offer features such as live traffic updates. However, losing a connection temporarily does not kill the service, Mobile Maps Product Manager Steve Lee said.

"Google Maps pre-caches the entire route," he said. "It needs a data connection when you ask for navigation. But while driving to your destination, if you intermittently lose the connection, it will still carry on, as long as you stay on the route."

The application uses Google's Maps data, including satellite view and street view. It also has voice search capabilities, and a special car dock mode that's intended to be used at arm's length.



Last October, Google officials told AppleInsider that its free online navigation service would come to the iPhone if the software was approved by Apple for release in the App Store. Google has had difficulty getting its applications approved in the past, with the search giant releasing its Latitude software as a browser-based Web application. The most high-profile issue between Apple and Google came over the Google Voice application, which Apple said too closely resembled the native features of the iPhone.

A number of GPS navigation applications already exist on the App Store, though they are not free. One of the most popular options from TomTom offers a U.S.-only map for $59.99, and numerous other international options are available. TomTom revealed earlier this year that it sold more than 100,000 copies of its iPhone application at the end of 2009.