Google recently showcased the killer features of the next Maps update for Android at the “D: Dive Into Mobile conference” in San Francisco. The new released labeled “Google Maps 5.0 for Android” provides 3D rendering of buildings, supports vector graphics, loads much faster than its predecessor, works offline and automatically rotates the map according to the phone’s compass. The updated Google Maps functionality is expected to be available on Android in the “coming few days” but iPhone owners will need to wait longer.
First things first, the Maps 5.0 app is a major performance boost over the current version and reduces data downloads by nearly a factor of 100, thereby leading to faster loading and zooming. No more intermittent delays and a truly “real-time” mapping experience.
I like the 3D building models which appear at the street view level as they lead to a real life experience. What’s more, it’s even possible to determine a building’s height by modifying the map orientation using a two-finger swipe gesture. Google currently supports 3D building models in over 100 cities and the list is expected to grow over next several months.
The “offline mode” support for Maps is being offered as part of the company’s overall policy for providing such access to most (if not all) Google tools. It caches maps so you can still navigate through your path even if you lose internet connectivity. Google Maps will run on devices running Android 1.6 or higher.
I use navigation tools heavily on my iPhone and I must say I’m smitten with jealousy by whatever I’ve seen in Google Maps 5.0 for Android. The Apple App Store has several top notch mapping applications but none of them offers the cool features included in Google’s latest release. Of course, I’m skeptical yet optimistic that Google will make these features available to iOS users sooner than later.
To learn more about the next-gen Google Maps, check out the video demo from the Wall Street Journal:
[Images via Gizmodo]