Last Wednesday, Google announced a new version of Google Maps (free) that gives it a new design and a more intuitive interface. Google refers to the new style as their "Material Design" with brighter colors, bolder textures, the use of surfaces and shadows to emulate the real world. Their announcement says that "layers and buttons come to life so you know just where to touch to get directions, recommendations, and imagery."
Google released a new version of Google Maps on Tuesday that includes a Tips and Tricks help section available in the side menu. Tap on it, and you're taken to Google's online knowledge base. This is a great resource for step-by-step instructions for many of the app's functions, such as searching for locations, using turn-by-turn navigation, and customizing the map view. The new version also gives you faster access to navigation by giving you an overview of the route right in the screen in which you select a route. This allows you to compare the options before switching to a full-screen view of the route. These additions make a great app even better.
Google has now released Google Maps 2.0 (free), with new features as well as a native version for the iPad. Finally! This remains a very popular alternative to the built-in Maps app from Apple, and its new features in version 2.0 such as live traffic updates and Explore make it even better. It also includes five-star ratings from users and from Zagat as well as indoor walking directions for malls, transit stations, airports, etc. Plus, unlike the previous version, you can now cache data so your maps info is available even if you don't have a live Internet connection.
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.
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.
I really like the ability to simply ask Siri for directions rather than typing in a destination, so I tend to use Apple's Maps app over Google Maps. But both are excellent. I want to point you to a couple detailed reviews, in case you're wondering which app you should favor, and also want to note the ability of Apple's Maps app to cache large areas of data, so that you can use the app even if you don't have an Internet connection.
Google has posted a very helpful article on 10 ways to make your Google Maps for iPhone experience even better. Google Maps (free) has been hugely popular and was downloaded over 10 million times the first two days it was available. The tips include:
1. Press and hold to place a pin on the map.
2. To see Street View images in panorama, "press and hold any location on the map, tap the info sheet, and then tap the image."
3. Shake your phone to send Google feedback.
4. Swipe the info sheet to the left or right to browse more results.
5. Tap the three buttons at bottom right to access the satellite, traffic and public transit views.
What a nice Christmas present. As my fellow blogger James Rhodes noted, Google Maps (free) arrived late yesterday and has the best of everything. It includes crucial features missing in Apple's original app based on Google's technology, and it includes features missing in Apple's new Maps app that arrived with iOS 6. Unlike the earlier version, it now has voice-guided turn-by-turn directions and vector graphics. The latter means that the maps are created on-the-fly mathematically instead of using images.
Google Maps (google.com) is now available for download. The requirements are iOS 5.1 or later, and it is optimized for the iPhone 5.
iTunes App Store