Technology

Google revamps Android Maps app, drops Latitude

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MUMBAI: Google has overhauled its Maps app for Android smartphones and tablets, giving it some new search, navigation, and discovery features. The changes will also soon be making their way to the company‘s iPhone and iPad apps.

"Today‘s update is an exciting step forward for Google‘s maps - one that we hope will make it faster and easier for you to explore and discover places you want to go," Google Maps director Daniel Graf wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

For starters, the revamped app aims to help in navigating around traffic a little easier. In addition to current traffic conditions, one can also see reports of problems on the road and tap to see incident details. While driving, Google Maps will now alert if there‘s a better route, and more quickly reroute the driver to his destination.

There‘s also a new Explore feature, which offers up places one might like to eat, drink, sleep, and shop. On tapping the search box, a list of suggested places without even having to type anything can be seen.

To help one decide on where to go, the app includes a new 5-star rating system that will give the user an idea of how the user‘s friends and others have rated places like restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Zagat badges and curated lists are also now integrated into search results, so one can quickly spot expert-approved places.

This is also Google‘s first dedicated Maps app for Android tablets and iPads.

"A dedicated tablet design brings all the features of this new app to Android tablets

and iPads, which makes exploring the world from the comfort of your living room much more fluid, smooth and fun," Graf said.

But alongside all the new goodies, some older features are going away, including Latitude and check-ins, which is no longer part of the new Google Maps app and will be retired from older versions on 9 Aug. Google, is instead pushing the newly added location-sharing and check-in features of Google+ for Android. My Maps is also not included in this release, but will return in future versions of the app, Google said.

Finally, the offline maps feature for Android is also no longer available. You can still access maps offline, however, by entering "OK Maps" into the search box when viewing the area you want for later.

The new Google Maps app is compatible with devices running Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, as well as iOS 6 and above.

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