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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