Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is the third major player to add free turn-by-turn driving directions to its mapping application. The voice-guided driving directions will be available in the Bing application for a dozen or so Windows phones, according to a company blog post.
The trend toward offering free navigation has really ramped up. First, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) announced it was offering it on some Android phones and then Nokia (NYSE: NOK) followed in its footsteps, by making navigation free on Ovi Maps. In general, it’s seen as a way to attract people to the various platforms and become more acquainted with downloading and using applications to spur further smartphone adoption. Unfortunately, this really doesn’t help out TeleNav’s cause at all, which sells navigation services through the carrier and plans to go public as early as Thursday.
Microsoft said navigation will be available on several Windows phones 6.x devices on Sprint (NYSE: S), T-Mobile, or AT&T (NYSE: T) networks. It will not work on the Bing application for the iPhone. The company tapped into Tellme, its voice recognition division, to create the app. Features include calculating your route, guiding you as you drive and choosing between the fastest or shortest route. It will also help you avoid traffic and tolls. The addition of navigation was part of an overall redesign to the home page, which also gives people faster access to common searches, such as movies and traffic.