As an Android user, you would be forgiven for having never used a navigation app other than Google Maps. It's not perfect, but it's available for free and remains one of the best GPS solutions around, especially if you live in the US. Yet before Google Maps grew into a household names, MapQuest was synonymous with looking up directions online. Now a redesigned version of its mobile app has found its way into the Play Store.
Earlier today, Google started a staged rollout of a new point release of Google Maps. We've been poring over all the UI differences between the new version 7.3 and the previous version 7.2 from last month for the last couple of hours and managed to catch a few interesting changes. Since the official changelog isn't out yet, these will have to do for now.
Here's what we've spotted.
Duration, distance, and estimated arrival time in the expanded notification
The expanded notification now carries a lot more information than before.
Telenav's Scout for Android app already guides users throughout their daily commute, points out nice places to eat, helps them keep up with local events, and pinpoints gas stations with low prices. Now the versatile navigation app is gaining a new ability that makes it much easier to coordinate and travel to events with friends. The app will track multiple users and provide each with a real-time look at where each person is and when to expect them to arrive.
The refreshed Google Maps app is cool in a lot of ways, but it was a big change and we're still finding little tricks to make things smoother. Some users were annoyed that there is no longer a direct Navigation app icon, meaning more taps to actually start turn-by-turn navigation. There is a shortcut, though.
Skip all that
When you search for a location in Google Maps, there is an information bar at the bottom with the route button.
Earlier today, Google started slowly rolling out an update to Maps with version 7.2. This is a point release, up from 7.1, so I expected more than just minor changes. While not as big as the quiet Drive update yesterday, Maps 7.2 brings a few notable changes to the table that Google has not yet (or won't ever) itemized in the changelog. Upon getting my hands on the APK, which you can find at the bottom of this post, I hopped onto the teardown couch and dug in.
If your device hasn't gotten the YouTube v5 update today yet, and you're just itching to see the new navigation and UI, and experience the in-app multitasking first hand, we have your fix down below. Simply flash this verified APK to your phone or tablet, and your YouTube app will suddenly look better than ever before.
Note: If you're looking for a more detailed changelog, read the original announcement post.
Google has started rolling out a staged YouTube for Android update, and it's probably the biggest redesign the app has seen yet. We've gotten a hold of the APK with exact version 5.0.21 (the previous version is 4.5.17), and after playing with it for about 30 minutes so far, I can definitively say that it's hugely improved.
The biggest new features I've spotted so far are:
One of Android's strengths is that its built-in navigation software is top notch, but that doesn't mean we have to use it. There are alternatives that make it easier to discover new places and come up with ways to get between them more quickly. Transit isn't a replacement for Google Maps, but it's a nice tool to have in your belt when trying to get from point A to point B.
Love it or hate it, version 7 of Google Maps is now apparently rolling out to everyone. The latest release is entirely different from prior versions and gives the mobile app a look that matches that of the new Google Maps soon to hit the web. Upon opening the app for the first time, a solitary search bar hovers at the top of the screen while all other options are tucked away.
The new Google Maps app seems to be positive on balance, but there are always some features that get left behind in big updates. There's the odd caching functionality and the complete lack of My Maps, for example. While it may look at first like the missing traffic widget has taken some functionality with it, that's not quite the case. Google Maps v7 contains a
new one-tap directions widget that does much more than the Traffic one did.