SOFTWARE HOUSE Google has given its Android Maps application a makeover, revising its interface and adding some exploring and navigation features in the latest update that was first previewed at its I/O developers conference in May.
Appearing in the Google Play web store today, the update sports an overhauled interface with new discovery features that allow users to quickly browse and discover new places without having to type.
"Simply tap the search box and you'll see cards showing great places to eat, drink, sleep and shop," Google said in a blog post today.
The software firm has also enhanced navigation features in the update, which Google says will help users navigate around traffic.
"You can now see reports of problems on the road that you can tap to see incident details. While on the road, Google Maps will also alert you if a better route becomes available and reroute you to your destination faster."
As well as the new navigation and exploration tools, Google's Maps update also sees the addition of the Zagat five star rating system that gives users a quicker read on how others have rated places like restaurants, bars and cafes.
"For an expert's opinion, the Zagat badge of excellence and curated lists are integrated into search results so you can quickly spot the very best places," Google explained.
However, Google said that as part of the roll out of the new features, it will be discontinuing its Latitude tool next month.
"One important change you should know about is that Latitude and check-ins are no longer part of the new Google Maps app, and will be retired from older versions on August 9," the company's blog post read. "We understand some of you still want to see your friends and family on a map, which is why we've added location sharing and check-ins to Google+ for Android, coming soon to iOS."
Other features that Google has dropped into the update include an "offline maps" tool. Google has created "OK Maps", a new way for users to access maps offline by entering them into the search box when viewing the area they want for later.
My Maps functionality is also not supported in the release but Google promises this will return to future versions of the app.
The update is rolling out to Android 4.0.3+ users "over the next few weeks". Google said some of the features are not available in all countries, but we can expect the UK to not be one left out.
The update is so far available only for Android smartphones and tablets but Google assured that it will arrive on iOS devices "soon". µ
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