Google Maps was recently promoted to v9.45 in the beta channel. This update includes a partially redesigned arrival card when users reach their destinations and introduces a feature where Google will send emails with highlights from your timeline. Turning to the teardown, it's clear that Google will soon allow users to share their custom lists with others. As usual, there's a download link at the bottom of the post, but since the v9.45.1 update came out shortly after the .0 release, both versions are linked.
A new Google Maps update is rolling out today. For most people, this version might not have a big impact quite yet, but it's introducing a new feature for some high-level members of the Local Guides program. Those that qualify will be able to create custom lists of saved places. For the rest of us, there's a new notification for local traffic and voice commands to avoid toll roads, highways, and ferries. There are also a few new things to check out in a teardown, including integration with another service, another tease about ordering food, and more.
Google appears to be rolling out a new UI for suggesting attributes of businesses and places in Google Maps on Android. The new UI would appear to possibly be a replacement for the card-flow suggestions UI that has been rolling out for a number of a months now, and is substantially more compact.
The new attribute suggestions UI is surfaced right in the summary section of the place card of a business, with bolded text guiding Maps users to provide information. The UI is a categorized list of large radio-style selection buttons which allow you to suggest attributes for a business like "Beer," "Healthy options," or "Good for kids." Instead of the more time-consuming and arbitrary yes/no/maybe card flow, you get to choose which information you want to vouch for.
In case you aren't getting enough Google Now inside the normal interface, it looks like the Google app is bumping out into some users' notification trays with new, richer, higher priority notifications.
While it's hard to say when the rollout began, some users on version 126.96.36.199 of the Google app (myself included) have begun noticing new notification settings in the Google app, toggling notifications for "substantial changes in weather condition," sports, places, and "stories and videos." Other users' settings lists still stop at "priority notifications."
So far we've only seen weather notifications - which offer temperature changes or other condition changes expected for the next day - and sports notifications in person.
Recently, we posted about a new feature Google was testing to help users better "explore" their surroundings, offering more fine-tuned exploration options for a user's immediate vicinity or their destination, with suggestions of what to do in the area based on time of day or conditions. The interface would apparently get its own button in Google Maps' primary view, but the button only appeared for a few users at the time. Today, Google officially announced the feature, which is continuing to roll out to more users.
In an entry to the official Google Maps blog, Google explains that the app's suggestions will indeed change based on time of day or weather conditions, and of course allows users to plan ahead by exploring "nearby" in other areas or neighborhoods.
Google held a press conference today where several new search features were unveiled, including some pretty nice improvements to the Google Mobile site. Among these features is the addition of Google Places on the main Google page, with quick links to areas of common interest at the bottom. Tapping any of the icons uses geolocation to provide results specific to the area that you're in.
Also announced were improved search capabilities in the browser and the ability to add additional details to Instant results by tapping the plus sign next to the suggestion that you wish to alter.
Instant Preview will now be incorporated into mobile search as well - by tapping the magnifying glass next to any result, you can scroll through images of the suggested pages, much like hovering over a link on the desktop search.
Facebook for Android has been notoriously slow to release updates and features in general, and last night's update reaffirmed that the app is nowhere near the top of Facebook's priority list. The Deals feature has been available on iOS since early November of 2010, only reaching Android almost 3 months later. According to the changelog, the Deals functionality is the only addition to the app, so let's take a quick look at how exactly you are going to find said deals.
As you can see, upon updating and starting Facebook, you will not find a Deals button anywhere in the menu.
Wondering how and when that newfangled Near Field Communication (NFC) techology in the Nexus S will be put to good use? Thanks to a new post on the Google Mobile Blog, we now know where the Goog is starting off: businesses. Specifically, they're looking to help businesses use the nifty tech to share some info about themselves to curious people passing by.
How does it work? Google is sending out kits, complete with window decals, to businesses around Portland. The businesses can set up the kit, set up an info page on Google Places, and slap the decal on the window; if somebody is walking by and is curious about a business, the idea is that they can just briefly hold their phone up to the decal and additional information about the establishment will be pulled up on the phone.
Unveiled earlier today, Google's new service, called Hotpot, promises to recommend places to you based on an extremely simple rating system that allows scoring and ranking establishments from one to five stars. Additionally, you can rate individual characteristics, such as food, service, and atomsphere, as you can see below. Hotpot's release was accompanied by a simultaneous refresh of the Google Maps Android app (version 4.7), which brought along the fairly significant addition of Hotpot to the Places component of the app.
I'm far too generous
Hotpot itself is accessible on any computer, but you'll obviously find rating and discovering places far more convenient while on the go.
Today at the Facebook Mobile event, Mark Zuckerberg announced the newest version of the Facebook Android app with support for Places and Groups. We didn't have to wait long, as the update hit the Market mere minutes after the announcement (don't you just love how instantly apps go live in the Android Market, as opposed to some other markets we won't be naming here?).
Here is the changelog:
Groups: share posts with small groups of friends
Places: share where you are with friends, see where friends are, discover places nearby
Improved Notifications - view comments and updates within the app