Published On: Fri, Jul 12th, 2013

Google Updates the Maps App, and Kills Off the Latitude App

At Google I/O (May 2013), Google had promised to facelift all its web and mobile apps, so that all of them follow the same design principles. After the Hangouts app (formerly called as Google Talk), Gmail and Google+, Google Maps is the latest to follow this suit. Google has tried to make the Maps experience uniform across phone and tablets as they sport comparatively larger screen. Let’s see some of the newer features in the redesigned app-

Features

Navigation on Google Maps App Reviews on Google Maps App Explore on Google Maps App

Improved Navigation

The app now shows current traffic condition for the selected route and even gives the ability to see the detailed reports of any mishaps in the particular route. It will also intelligently suggest an alternative route so that you reach your destination faster.

Explore

With the Explore feature, Maps app wants to become more than just helping out in finding direction. It helps you to discover great places to eat, drink or shop in a nice and clean visual cards-based layout.

Reviews

The app now shows friends reviews on a 5 star scale for eating joints (restaurants, bars and cafes). If you’re looking for an expert opinion, then the app shows a Zagat badge of excellence to special places. Zagat also shows a curated list of places to uncover some awesome places to eat out.

Google Maps on Tablets

Google Maps on Tablets.

Tighter Google+ Integration

This might be a good or bad feature depending upon the individual’s who are comfortable (or not comfortable) with using Google+. But, as we know Google is pushing Google+ through all its services to take on ubiquitous social network- Facebook, and Google Maps is no exception. The reviews of any place can be only seen when the users (and friends) have posted them through Google+.

To make Google+ more useful, Google is shutting down Latitude app, which helped friends to know each other’s location via GPS (The app will be retired from 9 August). The similar functionality can now be achieved by checking-in to the location using Google+.

What’s missing?

The app doesn’t provide any option to save a particular location on the Map for offline access. However, Google is famous for its Easter eggs, and enabled another way to enable this feature. Users can simply type “OK Maps” in the search box when they are seeing the area they wish to save, and the area will be made available offline.

The update doesn’t have My Maps feature, which allowed users to save their frequently visited location. However, Google has promised to bring it in the future releases of the app.’

When can you get it?

Google is rolling out the update gradually to users of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above. It will also make its way to Apple devices running iOS 6 and above soon.

Conclusion

The update surely brings functional as well as interface enhancements to the already useful Maps app. It also makes it leaps ahead against other Mapping apps like Here Maps, Apple Maps, etc. We also believe that over the next versions, we may see some integration with crowd-sourced Maps app- Waze (a company Google acquired last month).

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Sanjay Negi

Sanjay Kumar Negi is an entrepreneur from India, who loves to spend his time in writing tech and science related articles. Follow My Website.

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