Google Maps for Android

Google Maps for Android

Google Maps, the market leader in mapping across platforms, has finally made turn-by-turn navigation in Malaysia. Google released an updated Google Maps app for Android last week bringing key enhancements to the popular app. An iOS version for iPhone and iPad is reportedly coming soon.

Last December, Google rolled out a new-look Google Maps for the iPhone, introducing some new search and navigation features. The new update builds upon the refreshed design, and is also the first dedicated app for Android tablets and iPads. With the update, Google has retired Latitude, and made some changes to offline Maps.

Explore, Zagat Ratings, sorta
The Explore feature is a neat feature that lets you visually browser and discover new places without even typing. It’s a little like Foursquare’s ‘nearby’ feature. All you need to do is tap the search box and you’ll see cards (ala Google Now) showing places to eat, drink, play, sleep and shop. Caveat: It isn’t available in Malaysia yet. Boo. We don’t get Zagat ratings either. Why did we even mention this?

Bye, Latitude
Google has been actively killing some of its products as fast as they churn out new ones. The latest victim is Latitude, an old component of Google Maps that offered auto check-in and location sharing. Latitude is no longer part of the new Google Maps app and will stop functioning in older versions on August 9. Google has rolled location-sharing and check-in features into Google+ for Android (coming soon to iOS).

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Rejoice! Turn-by-turn!

Turn-by-turn, finally
With the new Google Maps app update, Malaysians can now enjoy turn-by-turn navigation with their favourite mapping app (I use Waze, now a Google company *snigger). Turn-by-turn of course, also comes with voice guidance. The update now brings enhanced navigation features, providing alternative routes to navigate around heavy traffic. Like Waze, users can see reports of road problems, and details of the incident when clicked on. The Android version will also alert users of a better route, when navigating. Public transit information, is sadly still limited, but this should improve in time.

My recent visit to the Burj. Isn’t this cool? *Ok, I lied. Wasn’t at the Burj.

Made for tablets
The new Google Maps has a dedicated design for tablets and brings all the bells and whistles to Android tablets and iPads. Yay.

Offline Maps no longer available
Strangely, Google has removed the offline maps feature in Google Maps for Android. Previously, users could select an area on the map they wanted to pre-load. As an alternative, Google has created a new way to access maps offline. Enter “OK Maps” into the search box when viewing the area you want for later viewing. Google has also removed support for My Maps in this release but has announced officially that it will return in future versions of the app. Users who still want to create their own custom maps can still use Maps Engine Lite on desktop.

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Compatibility and Availability
Google Maps for Android v7.0 is available now from Google Play. The new Google Maps for mobile is compatible with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean Android devices and iOS 6+ when available. Please note some of the features mentioned in this post aren’t available in all countries.

Source: Google Blog

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