A Closer Look at Google Maps on the Google Phone

    October 9, 2008
    Chris Crum

Google is giving those interested in the new Google Phone (the G1 from T-Mobile) a closer look at the different aspects of it on the Google Mobile Blog. Today Android Product Manager David Conway talks about the Google Maps capabilities on the device:

You can pan around and zoom in and out easily using just your thumb on the touchscreen — a big plus for all those times when that other hand is unavailable. And if I want to see a restaurant or building up close, I can switch to Street View and view a panorama from street level. I can even turn on Compass mode to let me look around the panorama by moving my phone up, down, and to the side. It’s like popping up a virtual periscope anywhere you want to check out what’s there with your own eyes. Check out the video below for a quick demo. Note that Street View on Android is only available in the US at this time.

When I’m in a new city or just a new part of town, I like to turn on My Location. It can use GPS or just the nearest cell tower to tell me where I am and re-center my position in the middle of my screen when I approach the edge. When I’m walking or in a taxi in a dense city, like New York, I zoom in to street level and turn on GPS for the highest accuracy.

With the G1, you can also save search results to contacts, so when you find a business using Google Maps, you can conveniently store the map. This should be a convenient feature for people who travel a lot, particularly to the same cities repeatedly. If you find a great Chinese restaurant in LA once, you can easily find it again via your contacts.

Developers are free to use Android’s MapView and location APIs to build "location-aware" mobile applications, so I would expect to see a lot of cool things happening out of that. Conway cites Cab4me and Locale, which were winners in the Android Developer Challenge.

These apps and Google Maps for Android are bound to be exceptionally cool once the GeoEye imagery is implemented throughout (the first image was released today). Anyone used Google Maps on Android much yet? If so, what are your thoughts?