Google Maps Goes 3D and Offline on Android
Google introduced a new version of Google Maps for Android, which brings several new features. These include 3D map interaction and offline reliability features.
Google is now using vector graphics for the maps, so you won’t see the map load in squares as it has done in the past. Instead, it will "dynamically draw" the map as you use it. Google lists the following features that come with this functionality:
Tilting: Drag down with two fingers to tilt the map. Tilt while zoomed in on one of the 100+ cities around the world with 3D buildings to see a skyline spring to life.
Rotating: Twist with two fingers to rotate the map. After tilting to see 3D buildings, rotate around them to gain a new perspective from any direction.
Smooth zooming: Slide two fingers together or apart, and see the map and labels continuously scale to any zoom level, stopping when your fingers stop.
Compass mode: Center the map on your location, and then tap the compass button in the top right corner. The map will flip into 3D mode and start rotating to match your perspective, while still keeping all the labels upright and readable.
When it comes to better offline reliability, Google will cache large areas on your device based on where you use maps the most, and they will be available to you even if you lose your connection. It will start caching the areas you visit the most when your device is plugged in and connected to WiFi, so it can do it while you’re charging your phone.
"We’re already hard at work improving the algorithms and technology behind these features, so over time you can expect to see maps work better in more offline situations," says product manager Michael Siliski.
The app also features offline rerouting for if you lose your connection while using GPS navigation.
Google Maps 5.0 works with Android 1.6 and higher, but the 3D and offline feature require at least 2.0. Google also notes that some features may not be supported for all devices or countries.