Google updates navigation app with 3D maps and offline capabilities

Google has recently announced Google Maps 5.0 for Android, with two significant new features: 3D interaction and offline reliability.

Previously, a map was created by stitching together small square images. Thanks to the latest update, maps will now be drawn on the device using vector graphics to dynamically create the map on the user’s device. This allows users to interact with the navigation app in new ways.

Users can now ’tilt’ the map to see 3D buildings.  When in the ‘Compass Mode’, the map will flip into 3D and start rotating to match the perspective, while still keeping all the labels upright and readable.

Google has also taken the first steps towards greater offline reliability, so now users can find their way even if they lose their internet connection.

With the change to vector graphics 100 times less data needs to be pulled to render maps allowing for the app to now cache large areas on the mobile device.

This will allow most commonly used area maps to be accessible in locations where user may not have had an Internet connection available previously.

Users of Google Map Navigation (Beta) for voice directions will also benefit from new offline rerouting features.

However, to start a trip, users will still need an internet connection.

Note: Google Maps for Android 5.0 will be available for Android 1.6 devices and above, but users will need Android 2.0 or higher if they wish to access 3D and offline features.

Source: Google Blog.

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