Android Receives Google Maps Updates with 3D and Offline Navigation

Google Maps 5.0 with 3DGoogle has unveiled a new version of its popular Google Maps app for its Android operating system and the improvements show just how much Apple needs to come up with its own navigation package instead of relying on its chief competitor in the smart phone market. The new version of Google Maps for Android is 5.0 and it brings three dimensional maps for navigation with it. It also allows users to access their maps and navigate through GPS even when they have no active Internet connection. Unfortunately, for iPhone owners, the timeline for Google to implement the new features in the iOS version of the app is all up to Google.

Google Maps 5.0 for Android showing off 3D maps:

 

Pretty sweet huh? The feature reminds me of some of the 3D maps stuff that The Astonishing Tribe—which BlackBerry maker Research In Motion recently purchased—has been working on. It looks however like Google beat RIM and TAT to the punch with the 3D maps on smart phones feature. The big question though is when the feature will end up on other platforms. Okay, maybe not if you’re happy with your Android powered smartphone.

Features in Google Maps 5.0 for Android:

  • You can now ‘tilt’ maps into 3D by sliding two fingers down the screen
  • Rotate maps by twisting two fingers around the screen
  • Smooth, continuous zooming in and out
  • A new compass mode keeps things from getting overwhelming and locks Google Maps into your current perspective
  • Offline copies of maps are also stored now, letting you stay on track even if you lose your Internet connection
  • Google estimates the new version of Maps uses almost 70% less data
Google Maps 5.0 3D view 2

So pretty...

All of these new features are made possible by Google now dynamically creating maps through some vector magic. Basically, Google Maps now draws the maps itself instead of just downloading them from Google’s servers. This means that the app can store large map areas in a lot less space and enables the whole 3D perspective. Long story short, Google Maps just got a lot more like a real GPS navigation system.

Google Maps 5.0 for mobile requires Android 2.0 or higher for the 3D maps and offline navigation features.

With Google upping its maps and navigation game for its own mobile platform, Apple might just have to start doing some work of its own on a navigation package. Every time I look Google Maps on my iPhone now, I wince. Why can’t iOS’s maps be this pretty!?

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