Last night Google pushed out a major update to Google Maps – adding a bunch of useful new features including – at last – offline maps. Read on to see what else is new.
So here’s the new stuff:
Offline Maps – this is the big one. Though it has been secretly available for some time through the “ok maps” search query, it has finally been made public. Now when you tap into the search box, you can scroll down and hit “save the map for offline use” – then it is simply a case of zooming the map to the bit you want to save, and the app will download the streets for offline. Especially brilliant if you’re travelling abroad and don’t want to encounter massive roaming charges.
Lane Indicators – another nail in the Co-Pilot Coffin as Google pinches one of their best features: lane indicators. Now when using turn-by-turn directions, an indicator at the top of the screen will show you which lane you should be in, so you won’t miss the exit.
Search Result Filters – if you’re looking for restaurants, bars and cafes, you can now filter by star ratings and price.
Time filtering – if you’re plotting directions, you can now tell Google what time you plan to travel so it can figure things out based on traffic and public transport. Better still – especially for Londoners worried about the tube – you can plan journeys based on the last train of the evening.
Built in taxi booking – only available where “Uber” is available at the moment, so mostly in the US, it surely can’t be long until it comes here in the form of Hailocab support, can it? If you’ve got the appropriate app installed – in this case, Uber – Google Maps will in addition to plotting journeys based on driving, public transport, cyling and walking, will also figure out how long and how much a taxi would cost.
So these are exciting times for Google Maps – one has to wonder if they’re worried about the rise of City Mapper, which has tighter integration with live transport data. Perhaps this update can persuade people back to Google Maps?
By James O'Malley | May 7th, 2014