By Jim Karpen updated on 08/29/2013
Google unveiled a new version of its Maps app for Android, and in the announcement it detailed new features and said an iPhone/iPad version is coming "soon." I'm thinking it will likely be available within hours or days. Perhaps the most important feature is the apps offline features, letting you cache data for accessing the app while out of range of Wi-Fi or data. In a previous post, I noted how useful this feature in Apple Maps was during a recent trip to Germany. Also available in the new version will be automatic traffic rerouting based on congestion, accidents, etc.
Google is touting the Explore feature. This feature is new to the Android version, but is similar to a feature available in the iPhone version since a March update. In the current version, you can search for restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and other types of places simply by tapping an icon. According to the announcement, in the newest version "Explore is a fast and easy way to visually browse and discover new places without even typing. Simply tap the search box and you’ll see cards showing great places to eat, drink, sleep, and shop." The image accompanying this post shows the Explore feature.
Finally, the best news in the announcement is that there will finally be a version specifically designed for the iPad.
Google Maps is a great option, and while I'm partial to Apple Maps, many people prefer Google Maps. The interface is intuitive, though it helps to understand how to invoke the various features. If you're using or planning to use this app, be sure to check out 10 helpful tips I posted last December when the app was first released for the iPhone.