Google is preparing to roll out a major update to its Map app on Android smartphones, with an iOS build to follow. Earlier today, version 7 of Google Maps popped up in the Play store boasting a new discovery feature, enhanced navigation and more.
It could be awhile before some users see the update come their way, however, with Google saying that the updates will be coming out over the next couple of weeks. The change log is available for viewing on Google Play now, but the update hasn’t been made available there yet.
The new version of Google Maps for Android — for both smartphones and tablets – is simpler, cleaner and faster. The whole point of the new look is to bring a more personalised experience, including things like live traffic updates and clever dynamic rerouting which will avoid jams.
The design is almost identitical to the iPhone version Google released in December last year. However, the Android version does feature a number of subtle differences, such as the menu button being moved to the left.
The “info sheet” familiar to iOS users carries over to the new Android version, complete with left and right swipe gestures to loop through search results and tap to expand for more details.
Maps are also now much more local, helping you find out information on the area around you at a glance. The new version brings an “enhanced navigation” experience that includes incident reports, dynamic rerouting, and updates on live traffic.
There’s also an enhanced exploration feature for browsing locations, such as checking out inside of certain buildings. Things like ratings and reviews have been pushed straight to the top of the maps UI, so you can see what is going on nearby.
The new functionality includes Explore, which lets you discover nearby places to eat, drink, sleep, play and shop, by simply tapping the search box, says Engadget.
The latest version of the app will see some features retired – including Latitude and check-ins, though you can now share your location and check-in via the Google+ app Android app. And offline maps is also now gone, though the company says you can still access maps offline via a little cheat, by entering “OK Maps” into the search box when viewing the area you want for later.
There are also suggestions that the update will come with a tablet specific version. It will be the same as the smartphone version, but will has a much broader layout to take advantage of the larger screen sizes.
Those who are in the Google Maps beta program will already have seen many of these changes on the desktop.
Google advises that not all of these features will be available to users in certain countries, and those running versions of Android 4.0.3 will need to check out Google’s help files to find out what version they can run.
It is currently unclear if smartphone owners with devices stuck on pre-Ice Cream Sandwich versions of Android will see the update, reports T3.