Google has released Google Maps 5.0 for Android smartphones, which will offer 3D maps and offline navigation options. Unlike the present version, which fetches blocks of images and stitches them together, the new version will use what engineers call vector graphics that will have more information stored in them and allow users to interact with it in more ways than one. Also, maps for places you frequently visit will be cached automatically on the device when it is connected to a Wi-Fi network to enable offline mode – routing and navigation in the absence of a data connection.
Some excerpts from the Official Google Mobile Blog:
Explore maps in 3D
Until now, Google Maps has always downloaded the map as a set of small, square images that we stitch together to form the map you see. (You’ve probably seen those gray squares getting filled in, block-by-block, as the images load over the network.) Starting today, we’ll use vector graphics to dynamically draw the map on your device as you use it, allowing you to interact with it in new ways:
- Tilting: Drag down with two fingers to tilt the map. Tilt while zoomed in on one of the 100+ citiesaround 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.
Google Maps has always been, and continues to be, a fundamentally Internet-connected experience, meaning you always get the freshest map and place data, search and voice search, live traffic conditions, satellite and Street View imagery, and much more. Still, we understand that mobile Internet connections aren’t 100% reliable. So today we’re happy to take the first steps toward greater offline reliability, so you can find your way even if you lose your connection.
In the past, you’ve probably had frustrating moments when you get stranded without a map, whether ducking into the subway, sitting at the back of a restaurant or traveling anywhere with a flaky Internet connection. But dynamically drawing maps requires 100 times less data to get maps across all zoom levels, so now we’re able to proactively cache (or store) large areas on your device based on where you use Maps the most. This way, you can rely on having fast, robust maps available to you where you’re most likely to need them.
SOURCE: Official Google Mobile Blog