Interface and Feature Updates in New Google Maps for Mobile

By Norman Chan

Android version is out, iOS coming soon.

Google is trickling down some of the Google Maps for web updates that it showed off at I/O to its mobile mapping app. Google Maps for Android was refreshed last night with a redesigned interface that removes many cluttering buttons and menus. A search bar is all that remains, and information is relayed in the cards style akin to data in Google Now. Swiping between cards reveals information like driving directions, nearby points of interest, and Zagat reviews. Android tablets also get a dedicated app that's even more similar to the Google Maps website, with a grid of cards for relevant local information. Google is also using this as an opportunity to show deals from its Offers search in Maps.

More practical changes come in Maps' navigation abilities. Alternate routes presented immediately after search and traffic incident markers pop up and are clickable for you to learn more about road congestion. Google says Maps will also alert you if a better route becomes available mid-trip and reroute you based on real-time traffic data. This is all without traffic data from its recent acquisition of Waze, which is still yet to be implemented. Finally, the Offline Maps feature in Android has been replaced with a strange workaround--typing in "OK Maps" in the search box when viewing an area you want to save with cache it. That functionality seems inconvenient at best, and may be confusing to existing users who rely on that feature.

This updated version of Google Maps is out for Android now, and an iOS version will be "available soon."