Android This Week: Droid Lands on Verizon; Google Adds Navigation

gigaom_icon_google-androidThe big announcement in the Android world this week was the official release of Motorola’s Droid on the Verizon network. The Droid is the first Android phone for Verizon, and the carrier is throwing a lot of advertising weight behind the launch. GigaOM has a Droid for review, so look for continued coverage of it here. The handset is almost as thin as the iPhone, but it brings a physical keyboard into the mix, something Apple’s handset lacks. The next version of Android, 2.0, is standard on the Droid, making it the first phone with the new OS.

The announcement coincided with a report Wednesday that Google Maps is gaining turn-by-turn navigation capabilities. Google Map Navigation will originally be released for Android 2.0, ensuring that the search giant takes care of its own business first and foremost. The features rival those of dedicated navigation devices — and even surpass them with the ability to display the route in either satellite or street view. Street view users can see how upcoming turns will look by seeing the route superimposed over a photo of the actual intersection. Following the announcement, the stock prices for some of the major navigation device makers took a dive.

Also this week, a few details about another Android phone emerged. The Droid Eris by HTC is expected to be Verizon’s second phone with the OS. The Eris lacks a keyboard and appears to be a more budget-friendly phone. If rumors prove accurate, the Eris will be released shortly after the Droid, so there won’t be long to wait.

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