Google Maps for Android New Offline Mode, Compass Mode for Street View; 3D Imagey & Tour Guide on Google Earth for Android; Maps API Adds 'Public Transit Routing & Layer, New 'Symbols & Heatmaps' Data Visualization Tools

Google Maps for Android is now available in 'Offline' mode letting you save upto six large metro areas for offline viewing. Just download the latest version of the app in Google Play, then select and save a region of a map from more than 150 countries for use offline. "Whether travelling internationally, carrying a WiFi-only […]

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Google Maps for Android is now available in 'Offline' mode letting you save upto six large metro areas for offline viewing. Just download the latest version of the app in Google Play, then select and save a region of a map from more than 150 countries for use offline.

"Whether travelling internationally, carrying a WiFi-only device, heading underground on the subway or restricting your mobile data usage, you can now save up to six large metro areas (e.g., Greater London, Paris, or New York City and surrounding area) and use Google Maps for Android to find your way," informs Jiabei Lei, Software Engineer, Google Maps Mobile.

All you have to do is simply find the area that you'll be visiting. Then select "Make available offline" from the menu and verify the area that you would like to save. Below the map, you'll see an estimated file size, to let you know how much space is required to save it on your device. Once you confirm your selection the map will immediately start downloading.

If you have GPS enabled on the device, the blue dot will still work without a data connection so you know where you are, and if your device has a compass you can orient yourself without 3G or WiFi connectivity.

New Offline Google Maps for Android

  • Detailed maps with 3D buildings
  • Voice guided turn-by-turn GPS navigation
  • Driving, public transit, biking, and walking directions
  • Live traffic information to avoid congestion
  • Local search and business reviews
  • Google Maps Street View
  • Indoor maps for select airports, hotels, retail stores, and more

Google also released a smoother and faster Compass Mode for Street View within Google Maps for Android, making your device a window into a 360-degree, panoramic view of the outdoor or interior location through Business Photos.

Compass Mode for Street View within Google Maps for Android

To experience the improved qualities of this feature you need a device with Google Maps for Android, Android 3.0 or higher and a gyroscope sensor plus version 1.8.1 of Street View on Google Maps.

You can download latest version of Google Maps for Android here, and version 1.8.1 on Street View on Google Maps.

You can learn more about Google Maps for Android here.

Watch the video below demonstraing Offline Google Maps for Android: (more video embedded at the end of this post)

Also, Google today made available 3D Cities on Google Earth for mobile.

New 3D Imagery
Starting today, Google made the new 3D imagery available on the latest version of Google Earth for Android.

An updated version of Google Earth for iOS will be also be available soon.

Creating this comprehensive 3D experience is possible due to advanced image processing. Using 45-degree aerial imagery, we're able to automatically recreate entire metropolitan areas in 3D. This means every building (not just the famous landmarks), the terrain, and any surrounding landscape of trees are included to provide a much more accurate and realistic experience.

Google says, they'll release new 3D imagery for places around the world over the coming months; by the end of the year, "we aim to have new 3D coverage for metropolitan areas with a combined population of 300 million people," stated Google.

3D Imager on Google Earth for Android

Tour Guide help show you the way. Google put together short tours of thousands of famous places and historical sites across the globe so it's easier than ever to discover amazing places. You can explore interesting places around the world of any of the more than 11,000 tours of popular sites in over 110 countries and regions, even if you didn't know to search for them.

"You can open the tour guide with a quick swipe of the tab located on the bottom of the main Google Earth screen. Each image highlights a tours or place of interest in the area you are looking. Click on an item and you will be flown there. Thumbnails of available pre-created tours will dynamically update with interesting locations in your current view. Simply click the thumbnail image to start the tour and begin your online adventure of discovering new and exciting places around the world. Where available, the tours include 3D models for the most realistic experience possible," explains Peter Birch, Product Manager, Google Earth.

As you fly in and around the sites, snippets from Wikipedia provide additional information about the location.

The tour guide also includes user-contributed Picasa and Panoramio photos as thumbnails for a preview of the featured location.

3D Tour Guide on Google Earth for Android

Watch this video demonstrating the new 3D Imagery and Tour Guides on Google Earth for Android:

Google also introduced today two new data visualizing techniques to Google Maps API.


A simple, yet powerful, new concept to the Maps API v3 called "Symbols," unlike the image icons currently used for marking locations on a map, is defined as a vector shape.

"The size, stroke width, color, and opacity of the shape, are all set by the Maps API application and can be dynamically modified. A small number of shapes, such as a circle, are provided by the Maps API, and custom shapes can be expressed as an SVG path," informs Thor Mitchell, Product Manager, Google Maps API.

"In addition to using symbols to represent point features you can also decorate polylines with Symbols. One or more symbols, such as an arrowhead, can be placed at fixed positions on the polyline or repeated along the polyline. Because the polyline that has been decorated does not need to be visible, this feature can also be used to created dotted or dashed polylines, and just as the style of the symbols can be dynamically modified, so too can their location on the polyline," explains Mitchell.

Below map illustrates the expansion of the Walmart chain of stores between 1962 and 2006 and the second example below shows location on the polyline:

Google launches today support for browser rendering of heatmaps by the Maps API using the new Heatmap Layer. "Your Maps API application can define the colour spectrum, intensity range, and behaviour of the heatmap when the map is zoomed," Mitchell said.

Here is an example of Walmart, visualized as a heatmap:

Finally, Google today made available public transit directions in the Google Maps API.

"Whether you're planning a trip from your computer or on the spur of the moment from your mobile device, Google Maps helps you find directions in more than 475 regions around the world," posted Nabil Naghdy, Product Manager, Google Maps API.

Developers can now use it in both the Google Maps Javascript v3 and the Directions Web Service. "It's simple for you to update your apps to also offer routing by public transit in addition to driving, bicycling, and walking. The transit route responses include the number of stops, direction of travel and more. It'll also tell you what type of vehicle you will be travelling on. Everything from a typical subway train to a funicular!," explains Naghdy.

Google also added "Transit Layer to the Maps API." "If you're using a Google Map, you can now use the Directions API web service to add this useful and helpful transit data to your map," Naghdy said.

"For example if you are a retail chain, the Transit Layer allows you to show all the bus major transit lines that run past each store. The Transit Layer can be displayed by enabling the TransitLayer(), it's as simple as that!," explains Naghdy.

Public transit routing and layer now available in the Google Maps API

Here are more video of Offline Google Maps for Android: