Google Maps Android update: 'faster and easier to explore'
Google introduces full update for Maps across Android smartphones and tablets; coming soon to iPhone and iPad.
Initially previewed at the annual I/O developer conference in May, the update is designed to make "exploring the world and getting to the places that matter to you a lot faster and easier".
The new design has introduced a cleaner, simpler interface; featuring only a single box, a button to centre the map on your location and menu button.
The tablet interface now resembles the Google Maps desktop app more closely, whilst adopting the card-based information system successfully deployed across mobile platforms as 'Google Now'.
While the new system is not currently available for iOS users, Google cryptically added the Apple update should be launched “soon”.
The update has made inroads into more intuitive navigation for driving by alerting you should a better route becomes available, and rerouting you to your destination faster.
Google has decided to do away with the offline map cache, which handily allowed users to zoom out, draw a square on the map, and save the area for offline access.
While the feature is still available, it is no longer so simple. Now users will have to enter “OK Maps” into the search box and then create a cache of the visible portion of the map.
The Explore function is one of the new additions, an extra-swipeable interface enabling users to “browse and discover new places without typing”, locating new places to sleep, eat, drink and shop.
Zagat, a reviews service bought by Google and displaying expert opinion and badges of excellence, is now integrated into search results, alongside a five-star rating system displaying your friends' and others' reviews of nearby bars, cafes and restaurants.
Maps will now also allow users to search for restaurants and shops with specific offers available, which will boast a blue tag next to the business name or pin on the map. Swiping the location will bring up more details, and tapping the offer will save to your Google account to use later.
Daniel Graf, Director of Google Maps said in a statement: "Helping you find great places is what we love to do. And as more of us use mobile phones and tablets in our daily lives, information that’s useful to you isn't just about what you need, but also where you might find it. Today’s update is an exciting step forward for Google’s maps—one that we hope will make it faster and easier for you to explore and discover places you want to go."