There are a lot of goodies in the newest version of Google Maps, which just started rolling out to devices last week. However, some users are getting a bonus that didn't show up in the changelog. We've been able to get a few confirmations of a new Explore Nearby tool in Maps that offers much more fine-grained control of location-based suggestions.

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Anyone can access the current version of the Nearby feature in Maps by tapping on "Explore Nearby" when in the search interface. This lets you pick a type of establishment (food, drinks, etc.) and get a list of possibilities. The updated Explore Nearby gets its own button on the bottom right of the map screen. You can still pick from various categories, but it's split up into more focused groups and includes points of interest now. There's also a drop-down to select the time of day for more appropriate suggestions. Unless you want to hit a bar in the early afternoon. I'm not one to judge.

Since we were able to find a few people with this new feature, it's definitely out of internal dogfooding at Mountain View. It might look a bit different by the time the new version makes its way out to everyone, but Explore Nearby is definitely changing. There may also be some hints of future location features in the teardown we did on Maps v8.2.

[Google+, Thanks, Kody Scalzi]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

    They want to add all sorts of brilliant features, but don't want to work on the laggy UI for pan and zoom on Maps v7+.
    Been 6 months, Google! Sheesh!

    • Dominic Powell

      Actually Android L should fix a lot of that lash with the final implementation of ART

      • Denis

        i wish i had a dollar every time somebody says that before the next android version.

        • someone

          Difference is that it's not just a speculation this time, since everyone (with a Nexus 5) can install the preview.

          • Vince

            I can tell, using Android L DP on my N4 that there have been serious improvement in terms of speed, UI, etc.

        • Kaboose

          This time its true! We will finally get to the IPhone 4 lag promised land

        • Dominic Powell

          Well they did a talk and specifically signalled out drop frames in maps and they were having 6-10 dropped frames in maps and then it ended up dropping none after the new ART. Keep in mind Android L may still have an older version of art compared to what was being talked about at I/O and what will be shipping in the public version. So even the preview may not be lag free or close to it yet.

    • Casey

      Yeah, I have no idea why Google Maps is so choppy. Foursquare's implementation of the Maps API performs better than the actual Maps app!

    • Armando Rodriguez

      Not laggy on my N5 with 4.4 or L

  • disqus_5k2hWwhCrm

    Long wait for Android L :(


    check out 'FIELD TRIP' in the playstore.

  • fzammetti

    Look, this is all good stuff to be sure, but until I DON'T NEED A NETWORK CONNECTION to use maps then there's a MAJOR shortcoming. Yes, I know, I can download maps and have been able to for some time... and that's fantastic when I know where I'm going to be and it's not that far, but otherwise, it's a pain (or entirely not feasible if we're talking a long trip and especially if there might be some variation in routes taken).

    For example, I recently was on a family trip across four states where we kind of played fast-and-lose with the route and because it was through some rural areas where we had no good data connection I had to revert to using CoPilot even though I prefer Maps... but CoPilot has a fully downloaded map (and POI) database so it works no matter where I am. Maps doesn't. That continues to be a HUGE limitation IMO.

    I can think of many reasons Google wouldn't allow a full download, some I'd even consider legitimate... but that doesn't make it any less of a hassle when it strikes.

  • McCheeseFist

    Nokia maps already has...