Google Maps for Android just got a pretty impressive update that adds transition navigation into the mix, this means that your phone will now be able to tell you when its time to get off the bus, great when you don’t speak the local language or if your attention waivers. But more than that, it also brings a little hidden gem that a lot of people have been looking forward to in the form of downloadable maps.
The feature is tucked away in the labs option and once you enable it, you can download 10×10 mile patches of maps around a particular point. You can have more than one area downloaded and you can choose any point in the world to download 10×10 mile maps around it. But there’s a catch, it seems the maps are for exploratory purposes only and will not help you in navigation. That being said, it shows that slowly but surely Google is getting there and beginning to challenge Nokia’s Ovi Maps (now Nokia Maps). Ovi Maps still let you navigate in a large number of countries around the world and Google Maps is failrly limited that way (no India navigation) but it is certainly that will give Nokia something to think about.
Here’s how everything works:
- Enable maps downloads in the Labs option. Once you do that, settings can be managed in the ‘Cache Settings’.
- Pick a spot, you needn’t even be in the same country. Click through and select download map area.
- Its a fairly light download, a little over 10 MB perhaps. You see what part of the map you’ve downloaded, giving you an option to see if you want another download to cover more area.
- Finally, you can manage the downloaded areas, delete and rename them.
The new version 5.7 also brings improved search suggestions, updated directions and a photo viewer for places. if you are wondering which countries get transit navigation, look here. More details at the Google Blog. If you are curious about transit navigation, here’s how it works:
So what do you prefer Google Maps, Ovi Maps or a combination of the two?