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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google Maps 5.0 coming soon

At the Dive into Mobile conference yesterday, Google's Andy Rubin demonstrated a new version of Google Maps for Android. The new version, 5.0, will be released to existing devices sometime this week, and brings a wealth of new features.

Most notably, the new Maps uses vector graphics, meaning zooming, scrolling, etc will all see a dramatic speed boost, and will require downloading 100 times less data, according to Google. Plus, since map data will take up so much less space, it will be able to do offline caching of the map data you use most often. Even if you are using Navigation and have no data connection, Maps will continue to offer rerouting and guidance.

Secondly, the new version brings 3D buildings for 100 cities (more coming soon), and some fancy new multi-touch gestures: swipe down with two fingers to tilt the map for a more 3D view, rotate two fingers to change the orientation of the map.

Maps 5.0 will work on all Android devices running 1.6 or higher, but more advanced features like 3D maps and multi-touch gestures will only work on more powerful devices. According to Engadget, the devices that will fully support all the new Maps features are the Droid, Motorola Droid, Droid X, Droid 2, G2, Incredible, Evo, Nexus S, and all the Galaxy S devices.

The new version isn't available quite yet, but it should arrive in the Market in a few days.

So cool. I can't wait get this update. The speed improvement alone makes this an awesome update, not to mention the new features. I use Maps on my phone on a near daily basis, so all of these new features (especially the speed), will be very welcome.

This is amazing! I use Navigation pretty frequently, but I almost cringe whenever I need to use the Maps program because I just never know how well it's going to load. I was watching the video for this and it almost doesn't seem possible--it's so fast and so smooth. I sort of have a hard time believing it will really work. But, that's the way vectors are designed to work. I feel like they should have made this change a lot sooner, but I'm really excited to get this on my phone and start using it!

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