Google Maps for Android got an update; as Google’s moved from the traditional downloadable map tiles to vector graphics for its mapping environment. What this means is that maps are smaller in file size resulting in quicker downloading, dynamically drawn providing smooth zooming, and can show 3D representations of buildings for over 100 cities.
According to Google new app allows maps to be rendered dynamically, with much less data, and simultaneously offer enhanced 3D imagery. The new, richer 3D buildings will automatically appear as you descend to street level. Rendering will apparently be much smoother at every level of zoom as well.
Google will also deliver one of the most requested features for its mapping client – offline caching if Maps– a useful addition for using Maps Navigation for turn-by-turn driving directions as it’ll allow offline rerouting should you take a wrong turn. As the name suggests, Maps 5 will cache frequently travelled-to and searched locations and users can change their route in Google Navigation while offline, provided the route maps have previously been downloaded.
Greater multi-touch support has also been built, with two finger tilt and rotate added to the pinch-to-zoom gestures. Tilting works as you might expect, mirroring what’s possible in Google Earth, allowing you to pan down to an angled view to get a sense of scale of the 3D rendered buildings.
Maps 5.0 for Android also adds “compass rotation” support. Now you can figure out the direction of your route and automatically rotate the map to match the direction you’re facing on Android devices packing a compass, allowing people with a total lack of a sense of direction to navigate with ease.
Available soon, Google Maps 5.0 will run on Android 1.6 Donut and up, however some features such as dynamically drawn vector maps and rotation won’t be available on all hardware.