Google is rolling out an update to its Maps app for iOS and Android that adds a number of Material Design-based touches and fleshes out the company’s increasingly-important location-based Explore functionality.
Mobile Maps has evolved over the years from a strictly-defined navigation tool to something more ethereal: an app-based exploration tool, similar to Yelp and Foursquare. This update makes the Explore feature more immediate by embedding the icon on the map itself. Tapping on the icon brings up the newly-designed Explore menu, which takes cues from Google’s Material Design guidelines while maintaining a sense of familiarity for existing users, both on iOS and Android.
Users can filter Explore selections based on distance, time of day and even weather patterns — great places for rainy afternoons, for example — which puts it right in the same ballpark as Foursquare’s new mobile experience. Coincidence? Likely not.
Android users have one feature that iPhone users don’t: the ability to have Maps learn about frequently-visited places and have them appear in Google Now, easily accessible with the recently-released Google Now Launcher for all Android devices version 4.1 and above.
We’ve seen the update go live on our Android devices, but iOS users may need to wait a few more days for the update to push out.