By Jim Karpen on Fri, 03/08/2013
Earlier this week Google released its first major update to Google Maps (free),with new features including integration with Google Contacts. So now, if you’re navigating to the address of someone in your contact list, Google will retrieve the address from your contacts, eliminating the need to manually enter the person’s address. And as CNET points out, the contact information doesn't necessarily need to be stored on your phone; it just needs to be stored in Google's system.
According to Google's blog post announcing the release, if you're signed in to your Google account and search a friend's name, his or her address will appear as a suggestion. When you tap the name, the person’s address will appear on the map.
Another new Google Maps feature is a handy search option for local points of interest. As Google says in its blog post:
"For faster local search, you can tap one of the new icons for restaurants, coffee shops, bars and other types of places to quickly see nearby haunts. So if you’re in a rush and need a quick coffee, just tap the search box, then the coffee cup icon, to see the cafes closest to you."
So the cool part is you don't need to type in text to start a search, you can simply tap a convenient icon.
Also available in the new version is the ability to switch between kilometers and miles.
If you're trying to decide whether you prefer Google Maps or Apple Maps, check out this article by PCMag.com columnist John Dvorak. In an anecdotal test to see which app performed better, Apple Maps outperformed Google Maps and Waze. The person using Apple Maps got to his destination sooner than those using the other apps. And Dvorak has found the rerouting feature on Google Maps to be confusing.
Also, Apple Maps has the wonderful convenience of letting you interact with it via Siri. But now there's a new free app out —which I haven't yet tried — that lets you control Google Maps, Apple Maps, and other maps apps via voice. It’s called Drive Mode (Free), and it lets you simply speak to open a maps app and to tell it where you want to go. In addition, you can set it to automatically open the maps app you prefer.