Last Updated: October 8th, 2012

So Google Maps hit version 6.8 yesterday, bringing with it the crazy Zagat/Google+ mashup that was detailed earlier. The "What's New" section in the Play Store lists "See reviews from experts and people you know," "Find just the right places with Zagat scores and summaries," "Get directions directly from map bubbles," but they left out the most interesting new change: "Unreleased feature assets buried in the APK."


For starters, we've got some brand new image files. Check these out:


So there's a bunch of fresh files, all called "timeline_something." The XML stretches "timeline_line_mid" vertically, so it clearly connects them. Put them all together and it should look something like the mockup on the right. (Ignore the black dots in the corners or the thumbnails, Android uses those for rendering)

The XML that references these pictures is also new. They have names like "list_item_travel_history_segment.xml," which seems to suggest this is some kind of location history, and that check mark looks suspiciously like the "Check In" symbol used throughout maps. I have no idea why something like this would be useful, but it's interesting.

Latitude Switches To Circles

Maps is undergoing a Google+ takeover lately. The Zagat integration saw Maps business pages move over to G+, and G+ friends can find your reviews now. It looks like next up for the all-encompassing social network is Latitude, Google's check-in and location sharing service.

Latitude allows you to automatically share your location with your friends, but currently, you manage your location settings on a per-person basis. Expect that to change. The new version of Maps included files with ridiculously revealing names like (I'm not kidding) "latitude_migrate_to_circles_welcome_dialog.xml," so it sure sounds like G+ circles will be handling that soon. If I were to guess, I'd say soon you'll be able to say "share my location with my 'Close Friends' circle" and not have to worry about a setting for each person. Handy.

Mystery Feature


Ok people, let's hear your theories, because I have no idea what a "bucketed_price_coin" could possibly be. You bizarre renderings of coin stacks that look more like stacks of Oreos, they all have the number 10 on them, and they come in stacks of 1, 2, 3, and 4. The code says they are tappable buttons that turn on and off, and there are xml files for each stack called "bucketed_price_[number]_coins_layers_[on/off]." Now when you see "layers" you might be thinking "map layers" but I assure you they are not implemented the same way as traditional layers like satellite or gas stations.

"Ratings_cost.xml" makes reference to a "bucketed_price_container," also, the text color is "burgundy," a trademark of the recently-integrated Zagat, so these coins obviously have something to do with ratings. Beyond that though, I'm totally lost. Like I said, let's hear your theories.

Oh yeah, we've also got new xml references to making reservations with OpenTable, and a bicycle layer! Neat.

UPDATE: The coins are actually in the app! (Thanks Max!)

2012-06-02 16.39.322012-06-02 16.44.372012-06-02 16.42.00

They're used for restaurant expensiveness ratings when you are writing a review, but as far as I can tell, they are for international locations only. Ratings for US establishments have a "Cost per person" field and ask you to type in the correct value, even if Zagat already has an average price (which is why I couldn't find the coins anywhere). If someone can show me a screenshot of the coins for a US business I'm all ears.

It turns out that Open Table is in use too. A small minority of restaurants will have a link to book a table.

These features aren't guaranteed to make it out in time for Maps 6.9. In fact, they aren't guaranteed to ever see the light of day. But they are new, Google is working on them, and they are, if nothing else, interesting. So we figured we'd throw it out there for some discussion, which you can do in the comments below. Go!

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • Tommy Arnold

    Mystery Feature - Restaurant prices?

    • Ron Amadeo

      Restaurant prices are currently denoted with $, $$, $$$, and $$$$. The coin stacks with a "10" on all of them seems... less clear, and therefore worse. Right?

      • Shawn Alty

        anyone else think it's just toll prices?

        • emperor43

          not really, there's no point in having 4 icons for what is a big value range - toll price

          • Shawn Alty

            hmm, but I hear "bucket" and I think of the tolls where it says "insert your coins in the bucket" and we all know navigation is capable of knowing where the toll roads are. this could just be a marker to show how expensive each toll might be. I've seen tolls in my area as low as 25 cents but as high as a dollar

    • Alan

      Could be or it could be gas prices!!

  • emperor43

    restaurant prices with maybe some discount for reoccurring visits?

  • Supr2nr

    I'm wondering if they are trying to add in a reward feature like waze does when you travel a lot.

    • Ron Amadeo

      Yeah the "Bucket" phrasing makes me lean toward some kind of money in/out system, like console stores that have their own currency:

      • paul_pjl

        I'd say the Bucket phrasing is a 3D analogy to the apps programming architecture. ...like "silos". And even if not, there would not be one form of transaction/merchant/cost related to Maps (or any Google app/service), because that would be so unlike Google.

  • http://evansims.com Evan Sims

    Interesting! Maybe they'll flip some switches to enable these during the June 6th press event.

  • Lox_knc

    The current version of Google map already asks me which G+ circle to share ma position with when I do a check-in ....

    • Ron Amadeo

      But the settings for automatic location updates are still handled per person.

    • Ron Amadeo

      But the settings for automatic location updates are still handled per person.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    My theory on the coins, they will probably be used for Google Offers.  Since the '$' symbol already represents ratings for price, it's seen as being subjective.  The stacked coins will either indicate a quantity of offers or the Google Offers team impression of value/cost/whatever.  I've been on the Google Offers mailing list for a while and they've gone from 1-2 offers per week to about 4-5 per day.  They've already indicated that Offers is going to become heavily integrated into the web version of Maps, so it seems natural that they'll be pushing it into the Android version as well.

  • Simonbelmont

    I really hope they aren't going to force me into using Google+. I like using Latitude the way it is now.

    More power to them for integrating it into Google+. Just still let it work without it too.

    • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

      Google+ is good, trust me. It takes a little while to get used to it, but it's genuinely good.

      • http://www.Mikereviews.co.uk/ Mike Brown


    • GrzegorzWidla

      Nope, forget it. Next year there won't be no Google+ apps from Google. 
      Google+ will become another "Chrome" and will basically have "extensions" (games, apps like latitude, places etc.).

      • okungnyo

        Exactly! I don't get why some people can't understand it.

        Like how Google Places became Google+ Local, all of Google's services will become 'apps' in the Google+ ribbon!

        • Simon Belmont

          I understand Google+ just fun, thank you very much. I prefer not to use social networking and I don't like being forced into it to use the same functionality I had before it.

          Maybe someday I will take the plunge and give Google+ a try. Just not right now.

          • Northstar17

            You don't have to use google plus for social networking. You can always keep your posts private. The privacy is up to you.

          • Simon Belmont

            This is true. It's also why I said I'd consider signing up for it eventually.

            I'm not someone who is closed minded and won't adapt to change. I just prefer having a choices when it comes to change.

        • Simon Belmont

          I can still use Google Places without being signed up for Google+. In fact, everything that has added Google+ integration into so far as still let you make use of it with forcing it on you as far as I can tell.

          My original post was just me hoping that trend continues. Nothing more, nothing less.

          • Knowles2

            It will not continue. It just a temporary measure while they migrate everything over to Google+.

  • Kaustubh Ghanekar

    Coins for restaurant pricing

  • puupkitty

    The zagat rating system is based on a user rating of 0,1,2 or 3 (4 values total) that is multiplied by 10 and averaged to give a 0-30 rating.

  • Eleminohp

    My theory is one of multiple check in tokens? A unique form of advertising would be one that allows companies to provide discounts or specials to people with multiple check ins. The coin stacks could make an easily viewable account of how many times you have checked in to a certain business and therefore making the process of applying said discount faster

  • http://twitter.com/mblumenthal Mike Blumenthal

    Could the tokens be some sort of gamification feature for G+ based circles checkins? Ie you checkin you win virtual tokens that can be used to upgrade your status at a particular location to unlock new offers?

  • Fifth313ment

    What is going on at Google? They are taking a great app and ruining it! Google Maps was one of my favorite apps
    and now it's just a bloated memory hog with tons of useless and
    unwanted features?! The new Google Maps Mobile is now Maps, Navigation,
    Latitude, Offers, Places (renamed Local) and Google+ sprinkled in for
    good effect! I strictly use it for Maps and Latitude but it sometimes
    runs up to 3+ processes & services in the background and drains a
    battery faster then a 12 year old tween girl!

    Also bugs are so fully rampant it's not funny! I have GUI elements that
    appear and disappear, Latitude up until yesterday was missing all contact images (even my
    own) and that is when you can get it to load without having to press the
    refresh icon every time which is still happening! Also according to some Navigation appears to
    no longer be announcing street names but I haven't tested this as of
    yet. Google Maps is becoming an app that only powerful devices can run
    comfortably. My friends have a Huawei Ascend and a Samsung Galaxy Attain
    4G, which both devices have issues running the latest version of Maps.
    On the Huawei Ascend is can take as long as 4 minutes just to get Maps
    loaded but even then it's unusable! It's not quite as bad on the Samsung
    Galaxy Attain 4G but the loading and slowness will still test your
    patience. This is just unacceptable! And why hasn't Maps added the
    ability to disable some of the features and/or allow you to transfer to
    external memory (SD/microSD)? I know some apps
    that are placed on the external memory have issues running on start-up
    or 24/7 but that is what is needed. Google Maps has become a huge
    program at 60MB+ on my EVO LTE!

    And this just in Google added Zagat reviews to Places, which now
    requires you to have signed up for Google+ prior to reviewing a
    restaurant/place, or to even change a previously rated review that
    you've already made! I don't want Google+ so stop forcing me to sign up
    for it!? You can still read reviews on Maps but why would Google limit
    their reviewer base to only those who have Google+? What are they
    smoking? Reviews should be limited to those with a Google account (for
    accountability) and nothing more? Why make it more complicated? And
    Google while you're at it remove the huge red Google+ Zagat review
    notification advertisement on Places, oh wait I'm sorry you renamed it

    I remember when Google tried to add Google Buzz features into Maps and
    then just recently they added Google Offers. Oh and don't forget when
    they made Latitude Check-Ins a Google+ only feature! Why do they keep
    adding unnecessary and duplicate features? You already have an Offers
    app and why limit Latitude check-ins to Google+ only users!? Google
    create a new App or if you want to add these features at least allow us
    to disable them? On the newest update Google integrated bubble buttons
    (graduating the feature from Labs) and added the option to only choose
    ONE type of bubble which would appear: call, navigate or directions.
    However, on previous Map builds Bubble Buttons (via Labs) would always
    display at least two bubbles (call and navigate or directions)! Why not
    have the call/phone option (which used to be to the right of the
    location name) stay permanently to the left of the location name and
    then allow us to select the other option which would be to the right of
    it? WTF? Google thought it would be better with only one option? Another
    huge step backward!?

    I'm not alone as if you go to the Google Maps Play Store page & Google Groups you'll see
    quite a few reviews complaining of the many issues I have brought up in
    this post. Also many have sent their criticisms directly to Google via
    the Feedback option in Maps, which by the way doesn't work on my EVO LTE
    (I try to send a comment and then go to another app thinking it's done
    and sent but maps feedback re-pops up on my screen automatically blank
    forcing me to type everything again and I'm still not sure if it ever
    sent!). If Google were reading my post I would ask that you: Number one,
    stop forcing Google+ down your users throats as you're limiting your
    reviewer base; Number two, fix the huge bugs I have named which have
    been present in multiple previous and current Map builds; Three, finally
    reduce Google Maps to a decent size, aka stop filling it up like a
    gossip magazine on a grocery store shelve, and/or add the ability to
    move the app to an external memory source (SD/microSD).

    Thanks for reading this post (aka /Rant) if anyone from Google is
    reading this please forward it to your internal suggestions or support
    teams thanks again,

    5th :)

    • noMoreCrpware

      I agree with you 100%.  Google maps/nav was one of the main reasons I got an android phone and the sad truth is it just doesn't work very well any more. Buggy nav that tells you to drive in circles is worse than no nav at all. They've packed in so much gimmicky bloat and advertising garbage that it no longer seems capable of performing its core function reliably.

      I've always hated Apple, but if they come out with a clean maps/nav that actually works I'll be switching to an iphone.  Google just seems hopelessly lost at this point.  They've gone so far down the G+ crapification path they may never find their way back.  It's really sad how many great products they've ruined over the past year.  Never thought I'd ever want to de-google my phone, but I do now.

      • http://www.Mikereviews.co.uk/ Mike Brown

        really..... you'll get an iPhone solely for the maps?

    • Simon Belmont

      I agree. The app was streamlined and fast and now it's bloated with extra features I can't even use because Google+ is required.

      I'm not saying I'll never sign up for Google+, but I shouldn't have to be forced into it to use features that only required a Google account before. We get it, Google, you want everyone to use your social network, so you're slowly migrating all of the features into it. It's a slightly annoying tactic, but I can see why they're doing it. That still doesn't mean I am pleased about it.

    • Northstar17

      Did you just want a simple map book that is never updated? I suggest you go get a one from a gas station.

      Labs features are...in labs. Beta. Not sure why you expect them to work as if they are native features.

      Maps runs as quick as it always has, in fact faster if you consider the step from iOS 2 to Android 4 means rendering is quicker. Its almost instant now, and depends on your data speed more than anything.

      Turn off whatever features you don't use and make it faster.

    • http://www.facebook.com/JOHN.R.P.JR John Robert Peters

      My google maps is only 17 MB.

  • GazaIan

    Social Integration. That's all.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/T3MQPGH5X6EBZH6WYCXWNTN5HI XAVIER

    You left out the most important feature of all.
    Now older devices can move the app to removable storage ( microSD card )