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!
Note: the total number of downloads is a tally of the accounts that have downloaded the app. Repeated downloads on the same account, even on multiple devices, are only counted as 1 download.
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.
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.
The return of Terrain Mode is the biggest plus in the updated version.
What are you doing with that paper bus schedule when there's Google Maps? Google is constantly refining its public transit data, and today it's announcing a big boost in real-time transit data across the UK, as well as in Chicago and Vancouver. Plus, neat infographics.
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.
Google is bumping Maps up to v8.0 today, and as would befit such a big jump in version numbers, there's a lot going on. In positively un-Googley fashion, the app already has a changelog on the Play Store. So, we've got a pretty good idea what's new this time.
In two months, hundreds of thousands of people will be flocking to cities all over Brazil for the 20th FIFA World Cup. Since getting around in an unfamiliar metropolis can be a bit of a hassle (looking at you, Barcelona), Google has expanded its public transit information for the relevant Brazilian cities. When World Cup fans get to Brazil, they'll be able to look up bus and train info for all twelve cities with scheduled games.
What's the point of being one of the world's most powerful tech companies if you can't use those resources to travel back in time? Google is tackling this conundrum head on with the ability to roll back the clock in Street View. From the comfort of Google Maps on a desktop, users can select various periods in time to see how locations have changed.
Google is rolling out this feature starting today. You know you can fire up the ol' TARDIS when you see a clock icon in the upper left-hand area of a street view image. Clicking that will bring up an adjustable slider will clickable thumbnails.
The kids who obsessed about Nintendo's Pokémon in the late 1990s are now the up-and-comers at some of the world's biggest technology companies. If you don't believe us, then check out the following video:
Yup, Google is back to its April 1st tricks, and they're going all-out this year. The video sets up an augmented reality game that lets you go out into the world and catch "real" Pokémon through you phone's camera. That's the April Fool's joke. But since this is Google, it doesn't just end with the video - as of right now, Google Maps on Android and iOS is actually populated with Pokémon creatures all over the world.