A new update for Google Maps was released today and brings some impressive new functionality. Artem put it well (although perhaps not exactly eloquently): "it's #$%^ing amazing... Google keeps blowing minds." In a nutshell, Transit Navigation (as it's officially dubbed) brings exactly what you'd expect - it helps you navigate public transport. In their words:

Transit Navigation (Beta)
Google Maps Navigation (Beta) currently provides over 12 billion miles of GPS-guided driving and walking directions per year. Now, GPS turn-by-turn (or in this case, stop-by-stop) navigation is available for public transit directions in 400+ cities around the globe with Transit Navigation.

Transit Navigation uses GPS to determine your current location along your route and alerts you when it’s time to get off or make a transfer. This is particularly helpful if you’re in a city where you don’t speak the language and can’t read the route maps or understand the announcements. After starting your trip with Transit Navigation, you can open another application or put your phone away entirely and Google Maps will still display an alert in your notification bar and vibrate your phone when your stop is coming up.

They've also included this handy-dandy video, which essentially recaps the above description... but you should probably watch it anyway:

In addition to the above, the update brings other improvements, namely updated directions, improved search suggest, and a photo viewer for Place pages.

The update is live in the Market now - head on over and install the update to try out the added functionality. I'd be interested to know how well the Transit Navigation works, especially considering it's still in beta.

Update by Artem #1: There is another new feature that Google didn't bother to mention, which seems pretty important - the ability to download and manage 10x10-mile maps for offline use. It can be enabled in Labs and managed in the Cache Settings. Just to be clear, this new offline caching doesn't seem to work in directions or navigation, so for now it's for exploratory purposes only (Google already cached navigation map tiles before this). Thanks, Asa and JLishere!

snap20110706_105104 snap20110706_105144 snap20110706_105155 snap20110706_105222 snap20110706_105242

Update by Artem #2: The Buzz layer that I personally never cared for is now gone too. Thanks, Fiannan!

[Source: Official Google Blog]

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Asa Bowes

    I've also noticed in labs there is an option to download a area of the map for offline viewing are one step closer to offline navigation?

  • JLishere

    You're right, Google didn't mention anything about this new labs feature to "Download map area"... that's a huge thing for Google Maps!

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Thanks, updated the post.

  • Fiannan

    Isn't Buzz layer gone as well?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      You're right - good riddance. Updated.

  • Torsten

    Location sharing in Latitude now offers G+ circles.

  • Lorenzo in a Benzo

    Such an awesome update! Just mapped transit directions and they were perfect.

  • ben

    As a matter of fact Google did make mention of the download maps feature. Once you open the updated maps scroll to the bottom of the changes log it presents you with and it tells all about it.

  • Dan

    How do you get to the labs screen from within the app?

    • Zolang

      Menu button - More... - Google Labs

  • http://www.williamting.com William

    I've been using directions by public transportation in Google Maps for the past few months. Is this just navigation on top of existing functionality?

  • Mesmorino

    It's currently useless, for London anyway. For directions it lists transport modes that are not part of TFL's (Transport for London) remit.

    So yes, while it gives me route and transit results from Old Kent Road to Northumberland Avenue, the buses are under another company, a company that does Inter-City journeys (National Express). And since they don't follow normal bus routes and times and stops but instead go their own way, this leads to results that are not only completely useless to Londoners, they're extremely misleading to people unfamiliar with the city.

    When it said beta, I was expecting bugs and wrong times and out of date bus routes, not a completely different bus company. Thanks Google, but I think I'll stick with Journey Pro. It may not navigate for me, but at least it's got the right times and buses as well as other modes of transport