Google redesigns Maps for Android, adds a tablet interface, retires Latitude

Daniel Bader

July 10, 2013 9:08am

Photo 7-10-2013, 8 12 46 AM1
After promising to do so “soon” at Google I/O in May, the search giant is finally rolling out an update to its Maps service for Android and iOS.

The app brings an entirely new design for the immediate area, unobscured by menu or interface. When looking at a map, you’ll see just three things: a Search bar near the top, which has two smaller icons for navigation and your personal profile. On the bottom right is a “Locate Me” button, where it’s always been, and practically unseen on the bottom left is the new “hamburger” icon, which opens up a left-side navigation bar to isolate certain aspects of the map like traffic, public transit, satellite and Settings.

Photo 7-10-2013, 8 13 02 AM

The app recalls the iPhone version that was released last year, but feels cleaner and more polished. Google says it will be releasing a similar update for iOS, but couldn’t give a date for its release.

In terms of design, the Maps recalls Google Now in the way it displays information on various locations. In the new Explore menu, for instance, which is accessed by tapping on the Search bar at the top of the map, you can draw down on restaurants or attractions and be shown a gorgeous array of suggested venues.

Screenshot_2013-07-10-08-22-58 Screenshot_2013-07-10-08-23-12

Though Google is emphasizing improved navigation and better alternate route support when dealing with traffic snarls, the company says technology from Waze, the mapping startup it purchased last month for over $1 billion, has not yet been integrated into the app.

The tablet interface feels spacious and well thought out, with room for larger buttons and more cards on the display at once.

Google has unfortunately removed the option to cache viewable map areas for offline use, but it has added an easter egg of sorts: typing “OK Maps” into the search bar will load that particular area into memory. Why this was done is likely a difference of opinion between the design and engineering teams, but we think it’s pretty darn stupid.

Lastly, Google has retired Latitude, its location-based social network, claiming that such endeavours will be added to Google+ in the future.

Google Maps for Android is rolling out slowly over the next few weeks, and is only available for those running Android 4.0.3 and above.

Download Google Maps for Android.

Via: Google Blog

  • Max Fireman

    Easter Egg: Offline viewing for a certain area: Type in “OK MAPS” in the search bar. Offline mode has been removed, not sure why. Offline navigation also removed. Sucks. UI looks pretty though.

  • HiKsFiles

    Now that update sucks big time! Offline map viewing is very usefull when riding in National parks where there’s no signal or when roaming. And why do they have to remove Latitude now to only give it back “in the future” in G+. Just leave it in there until it is ready to be used within G+.

    • Max Fireman

      “Mapheads! We appreciate all the feedback on the new Google Maps app on Android.
      Stay tuned for an update to get offline maps. If you need it now you can pan over an area you want to save and type “OK maps” and cache a city area.”

    • deusfaux

      It is in G+

  • beyond

    so lame they removed option to cache viewable maps…LAME

  • hyperhyper

    Add me as another one that is disappointed that offline maps are gone.

  • Troy W

    Thanks. I’ll wait… impatiently but I’ll wait.

    • hhero

      here i found out how to do it

      uninstall your last update and re do the update

  • Mike Stickland

    Taken out latitude and offline? Come on google, why are we going backwards again? I as well have no use for g+ so dont make me have it just to use irrelevant applications on MY phone.

    • Ronell  I.T. Man

      Latitude has been officially discontinued by Google if you didn’t know

  • Jacques L

    What’s going on with you Google? After the mess with Gmail and Talk (-> Hangouts), now you mess up with your best app ? I just don’t understand the point…

  • TP

    I agree, it seems that the downloaded data is deleted automatically after some time/usage. I downloaded some area of the city long time ago, never deleted any cache or data, but found out it was gone after some time. After I discovered that, I don’t rely on Google Maps at all when I am offline.

  • Henry

    Wow, instead of b itching just don’t update if you don’t like the changes.

  • Squint

    While I was in London last year I used it, worked mighty fine. Maybe I won’t update, bout to head on a trip next week.

  • KRIS

    Y’all just need to quit your complaining… Nothing is ever good enough! Just be grateful for all the improvements and changes!

    • HiKsFiles

      Sorry but this is in no way an improvement nor a change. It is a regression in functionnalities.

  • Max Fireman

    From google!
    “Mapheads! We appreciate all the feedback on the new Google Maps app on Android.
    Stay tuned for an update to get offline maps. If you need it now you can pan over an area you want to save and type “OK maps” and cache a city area.”

    This is amazing customer support. love it!

    • expat

      Good, but they should make the whole experience better, by allowing to navigate with the GPS when there is no mobile signal. Until now, it sucks.

    • Max Fireman

      Right, because “Until now” you are going to be without data and you are going to die if you don’t have mobile signal for a couple of days… Google maps does not suck.

  • Svennen

    This sucks for me as I’m using latitude on a daily basis! Mostly for tracking and scheduling. Any ideas for replacement apps?

    • Svennen

      Thanks Stephen, much appreciated but from what I can tell it’s not a live tracking app. Rather more of a save my tracks app to share or process later. Not really useful in this case.
      Apparently they’ve incorporated some tracking functionality in Google+ but without any timestamps so you can’t tell when a person was at a certain location…

    • deusfaux

      functionality was moved to Google+

    • Svennen

      Please see my reply to Stephen A. above. While tracking is possible with Google+, there’s no timestamp so it’s impossible to know when the person checked in. Should be easy to implement but it’s not there.

  • RS

    Will we still be able to view or location history? That service is great.