Print 12 comment(s) - last by Omega215D.. on Dec 7 at 11:39 AM

Google Maps gets a significant update

Android 2.3 isn't the only thing that Google was showing off yesterday when it comes to smartphones. The company also pulled the wraps off the latest version of its popular Google Maps application.

The latest version of Google Maps can operate in a mode that forgoes the use of data-intensive photorealistic tiles to represent cities and instead uses dynamically rendered vectors for maps complete with 3D buildings (the New York Times says that 3D buildings will be available in 50 cities at launch, but Google is likely to quickly expand that number). By using vectors instead of tiles, Google says that it can significantly pare down the amount of data required to provide mapping data.

The key advantages to this approach include faster load times and the ability to cache entire cities for offline use (which means that you won't always require an internet connection to continue navigation as long as the mapping data is cached).

Google Maps also takes a page from Google Earth's book with the ability to tilt maps in 3D.

The newest update to Google Maps should be coming within the next week and will be supported on the following hardware according to Android Police:

  • Galaxy S
  • Droid
  • Droid X
  • Droid 2
  • Droid Incredible
  • EVO 4G
  • Nexus S
  • G2

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RE: So....
By ninjit on 12/7/2010 4:13:36 AM , Rating: 2
Hmmmm... you just described exactly how google maps works!

When you navigate (at least on my phone) it pops up street views for the turns/exits and final destination.

They also have a standing subscriptions with several data providers (depending on location), so you don't pay for any updates - the phone just grabs them automatically from the web.

Additionally google adds it's own data overlay, precisely for community additions/edits and to provide their advertising layer (promoted businesses etc. which is how they make they're money from google maps).

It even does live traffic overlays - for free too.

... it sounds like you haven't used google maps on an android phone, so I would definitely suggest getting a hold of one to play with - I'd say it's one of the main features that gives android a bump up over iPhone/webOS etc.

And as for a dedicated car nav system - it's a bit unecessary - you would need a cellular data connection for all this stuff to work anyhow, and smartphone screens/dimensions are on par with nav systems from tomtom/garmin/etc., so just a nice vehicle mount for your phone is sufficient.

RE: So....
By gigahertz20 on 12/7/2010 4:25:26 AM , Rating: 3
Ah cool, didn't know that. I'd love to get an Android Phone like Droid X, but the $30 a month data plan kills it for me.

RE: So....
By theArchMichael on 12/7/2010 9:41:30 AM , Rating: 2
Google Navigation also has a "car dock" mode that replaces the home screen with big buttons for navigation, voice search, phone, contacts, etc. So if you have one of those cell phone mount thingies in your car... it works exactly like a GPS. Vs. a TomTom I would say the only thing it is missing is speed camera notifications. But it obviously since its a data connected phone it brings a lot more to the table ... or dashboard too.

RE: So....
By theapparition on 12/7/2010 11:27:37 AM , Rating: 2
$30/mo is worth every penny.

RE: So....
By Omega215D on 12/7/2010 11:39:00 AM , Rating: 2
Actually they now have a $15 month limited data plan. I'm currently under that on my Droid and use wi-fi for browsing and the GPS system on the phone for map and location services and not network location.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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