Google Maps for Android Gets a New User Interface
Google rolled out a new Maps app for Android devices today that sports some of the features the company previewed at its I/O developers conference this year, like a revamped, cleaner-looking interface with new navigation, and exploration tools. The updates currently only available for Android, but Google said they will be offered soon on iOS devices, too.
The search giant touted some of the app's major highlights in a blog post today. The new Explore feature allows users to visually browse by tapping the search box to see a list of cards recommending eateries, accommodations, and shops. Navigation features have also been upgraded to help drivers avoid traffic. Aside from showing current traffic conditions, users can now see and find details of reports of problems on the road. Google Maps will now also alert drivers to take a better route to their destinations.
Google also added Zagat's five-star rating system that steers users towards the best restaurants, bars, and cafes and gives them a speedier read on how others rate these places.
These updates, however, are made at the expense of other well-loved features. Google is putting its Latitude tool and check-in feature to rest, effective August 9. Instead, it added location sharing and check-ins to Google+ for Android.
There are already protests against the Maps update as disgruntled individuals lament the retirement of Latitude and the offline maps feature. On The Verge, one user commented that "[I] always thought Latitude was one of the best features."
There was some concern on the Web, meanwhile, that offline mode had been dropped. But as Geek.com, noted, "offline Mode has been modified and moved away from the main UI, but it still around for you to use." Just press the search icon at the top of the app and either speak or say "OK Maps" to save the area of the map you want to view later, Geek said.
The My Maps functionality, however, is not supported in the update but Google said it will be back in future versions of the app.