Van-Tastic: VZ Navigator Gets Traffic Avoidance, Gas Finder, 3D View

Verizon's latest VZ Navigator update adds popular features already found in other mobile navi software like Telenav. The big one is traffic avoidance: in 75 cities, routes will be plotted using reliable historical traffic data along with realtime reports from Navteq Traffic. VZW doesn't say how frequently the realtime reports are updated. Also coming to the update are movie-and-event local search—no word on info provider—and a gas finder, with not just locations but up-to-date pricing at many stations as well. Normally, my instinct is to say, "Don't tell me how to drive, fool!" but traffic avoidance, that's some jibba jabbrin' T could actually put up with. Press release and list of cities after the jump.

VERIZON WIRELESS UNVEILS TRAFFIC AVOIDANCE AND OTHER NEW FEATURES ON POPULAR VZ NAVIGATOR SERVICE

LAS VEGAS and BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - From CTIA WIRELESS 2008, Verizon Wireless, the owner and operator of the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, and Networks In Motion (NIM), the award-winning wireless navigation and hyper-local search company, announced today that the newest version of VZ NavigatorSM will be available in April on select consumer phones and Windows Mobile devices. With the new VZ Navigator (Version 4), customers in 75 cities from coast to coast will be able to access traffic incidents, traffic updates and find detours around traffic congestion and accidents; more cities are expected to be added in the coming year. In addition, VZ Navigator will offer 3D perspective view, a movie and events finder, weather reports and forecasts, and gas prices at nearby gas stations.

Powered by Networks In Motion, Verizon Wireless' VZ Navigator service is a location-based service (LBS) application that utilizes GPS technology and real-time information feeds. When the new version launches in April, customers in 75 cities will be able to access the new traffic integration feature. In these markets, routes will be calculated using both historical and real-time reported traffic information - the historical information will allow customers to see on average whether the traffic is impacted by traffic lights, heavy traffic or school zones. VZ Navigator's historical data covers over 750,000 miles of roads in 48 states across the nation, making travel time estimates more accurate. The incident and flow information will tell customers how traffic is flowing, and will include details about reported accidents, disabled vehicles and congestion. NIM's Traffic Tracking Center continually monitors conditions along the customers' routes, sending proactive alerts to drivers about conditions ahead of them on their chosen routes. Detour options allow for comparison of ETA and conditions, before selecting a new route. Traffic information is powered by NAVTEQ Traffic.

Lee Daniels, vice president of consumer product development for Verizon Wireless, said, "Real-time reported traffic information and more allows our customers to truly transform their wireless phones into powerful navigation systems, at a fraction of the cost of other GPS devices. When Networks In Motion adds additional functionality to our VZ Navigator service, it enhances our customers' overall wireless experiences."

Other new features customers can expect to see on VZ Navigator (Version 4) include:

* Local Movies and Events - Customers can now search for show times, critics' ratings and other details for movies, concerts, plays, sporting events and other social events based on the physical location of their phones.
* 3D Perspective View - Enhances navigation by displaying maps from angles customers would see through car windshields, making it easier to visualize turn-by-turn directions.
* Gas Finder - Provides customers with information on the location of gas stations close to their physical location and even provides gas prices at many gas stations in the area. Once a customer selects a station, VZ Navigator can also provide turn-by-turn directions to the selected gas station.
* Weather - Provides current weather conditions and forecasts based on the physical location of their phones without manually inputting an address.

Pricing

The newest version of VZ Navigator (Version 4) will be available next month for $9.99 for unlimited monthly access or $2.99 for one-day use on select Get It Now®-enabled phones in the Get Going section under Travel & Guides or Featured Apps. In addition, VZ Navigator (Version 4) will also be available on select Windows Mobile devices. Airtime or megabyte charges and specific terms of use apply when browsing, downloading and using the application. Traffic integration is only available in certain areas. Verizon Wireless customers who currently have a subscription to VZ Navigator can get a free upgrade by simply selecting Options from the main screen of VZ Navigator then selecting Check for Updates. For more information on VZ Navigator, visit www.verizonwireless.com/vznavigator.

For more information about Verizon Wireless products and services, visit a Verizon Wireless Communications Store, call 1-800-2 JOIN IN or go to www.verizonwireless.com.

VZ Navigator's traffic capabilities will be available on most major highways in the following markets at launch:

Alabama

* Birmingham
* Mobile

Arizona

* Phoenix
* Tucson

Arkansas

* Little Rock

California

* Fresno
* Los Angeles
* Sacramento
* San Diego
* San Francisco
* San Jose

Colorado

* Colorado Springs
* Denver

Connecticut

* Hartford

Florida

* Jacksonville
* Miami
* Naples
* Orlando
* Sarasota
* Tampa
* West Palm Beach

Georgia

* Atlanta

Illinois

* Chicago

Indiana

* Indianapolis

Kentucky

* Louisville

Louisiana

* New Orleans

Maine

* Portsmouth

Maryland

* Baltimore

Massachusetts

* Boston

Michigan

* Detroit
* Grand Rapids

Minnesota

* Minneapolis

Missouri

* Kansas City
* St. Louis

Nebraska

* Lincoln
* Omaha

Nevada

* Las Vegas

New Mexico

* Albuquerque

New York

* Albany
* Buffalo
* New York
* Rochester
* Syracuse

North Carolina

* Charlotte
* Greensboro
* Raleigh

Ohio

* Cincinnati
* Cleveland
* Columbus
* Dayton
* Toledo

Oklahoma

* Oklahoma City
* Tulsa

Oregon

* Portland

Pennsylvania

* Allentown
* Harrisburg
* Lancaster
* Philadelphia
* Pittsburgh
* Wilkes-Barre
* Wilmington

Rhode Island

* Providence

South Carolina

* Greenville

Tennessee

* Memphis
* Nashville

Texas

* Austin
* Dallas
* Houston
* San Antonio

Utah

* Salt Lake City

Virginia

* Norfolk
* Richmond

Washington

* Seattle
* Spokane

Washington, D.C.

Wisconsin

* Milwaukee