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.
Yesterday’s update to Google Maps was certainly no slouch for new features; it came packing some great improvements for cyclists, new voice commands during navigation, and a few other interface tweaks. In addition to these public changes, there are also two brand new features buried within the code which are not active yet, but they may point to some exciting stuff on the horizon.
"I Am Here"
Google Maps is pretty good at figuring out where we've gone; between GPS, Wi-Fi, and even things like BLE-based iBeacons, it's possible to pinpoint our locations just about everywhere, even inside of buildings.
It's not update Wednesday anymore, but Google can do whatever it wants with its apps. That's how things work. Today Mountain View has started rolling out an update to Google Maps with some stuff to make cyclists very happy. Not to leave everyone else out, there's now conversational voice actions while in navigation.
Lucky developers and Google I/O attendees who received an Android Wear watch and tried to use navigation commands must have noticed that this aspect of the experience wasn't working at all. Commands simply wouldn't carry through to the phone. This will all be fixed with the update to Google Maps version 8.1.1.
The update, which should be pushed to your device or coming shortly, squashes the regular bugs and adds support for Android Wear devices.
Update: We've now gotten the Pokemon Master package from Google as well, and turns out there are actually 10 cards inside, not 1. The updated image is below.
If you remember Google's April Fools Day promotion that scattered digital Pokemon in maps all over the globe, you'll remember that it was awesome. Google also allowed those who had found all 150 Pokemon (with or without #151, Mew) to submit a form for a special prize.
When Gmail hit 1 billion downloads early last month, it was a pretty safe bet some of the other Google apps would follow closely behind. The next entrant to the exclusive club came only a few weeks later, and this time it's Maps taking the spotlight. Even if it occasionally sends us through winding mountain roads and quiet neighborhoods during cross-country trips, we should give a round of applause for the app that always got us where we needed to go!
That new Google Maps update is pretty cool, but there's more going on than the return of terrain mode. In fact, there are two small, but crazy-useful features in the new Maps that you ought to know about.
Left: Old, Right: New
In addition to substantial updates to the Android Device Manager and Chrome Beta yesterday, Google Maps is getting an adjustment as well. The new version (8.1) revives the Terrain Mode view, which lets you easily see the various elevation changes in surrounding hills, mountains, and valleys. (Terrain Mode was removed in Maps 7, for some reason.) There are also a few user interface changes to the various navigation screens. It's a small update compared with the the full 8.0 bump from earlier this month, but there are still some useful additions.
For those who may not know, Google Maps has an offline feature. It's not all that useful (it doesn't allow saved locations to be searched nor does it provide directions/navigation - it's essentially a paper map on a small screen), but it's still a thing that may be useful to someone at some point. Assuming you think ahead and actually save a map of the location in which you may need for it to be offline, of course.