Google has announced an updated Maps app that has some nifty features and a special version for Android tablets and the iPad. Built on the design introduced for iPhone in December, the new Google Maps sports detailed traffic reports, location suggestions, Zagat reviews, and integrated Google Offers. But as new things come, old things must go: Latitude, a Google Maps feature that allowed you to share your location with friends, is being retired, and changes are coming to offline maps and My Maps. The new app is currently rolling out for Android devices and will soon be available for iOS.
New Google Maps Features
For the first time, Google Maps will incorporate enhanced navigation to provide you real-time information for getting you to your destination faster. The new Google Maps will offer detailed traffic reports that you can tap for extended information. Google Maps will also alert you if a better route becomes available while you’re driving, and reroute you to your destination faster.
The new Maps app brings a dedicated tablet design to Android tablets and the iPad. The new design takes advantage of the immersive viewing experience offered by the devices’ larger screens.
Along the same lines, to help make it easier to find locations worth visiting Google Maps will feature a 5.0-star rating system for places like restaurants, bars, and cafes. The app will also integrate Zagat badges of excellence and curated lists into search results. This means you can now search for things like, “Best burgers in New York City” to discover high-quality options. As you browse through maps, the app will also display nearby Offers from national brands like Macy’s, Michael’s, and Toys “R” Us, pinpointed on the map.
Not-So Popular Changes to Latitude and Offline Maps
With the updated Maps app, Google is replacing Latitude with new Google+ features. From now on, you’ll have to check in to places using Google+. I guess that’s okay.
What’s not okay is the new, non-intuitive way to access maps offline. Google has removed the offline maps feature in the new Maps app for Android. Instead, to save a map Google expects you to type the magic words “OK Maps” into the search box when you view an area of a map you want for later. Not only is this feature cumbersome but it also removes the capability to manage your saved maps.
As if removing built-in access to offline maps weren’t bizarre enough, Google’s also temporarily removed My Maps functionality from the app. Now, if you want to create and share a personalized map with locations, routes, and regions of interest, you’ll have to do so via Maps Engine Lite on desktop.
The new Google Maps mobile app is compatible with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean Android devices, and will be available soon for iOS 6+.
For more information on the updated app, check out the new Google Maps ad. Though the video gives you more of a tour of downtown Detroit than of the app itself, it does give you an idea of the information you can now find using Google Maps: