News by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday July 10, 2013.
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At its most recent Google I/O conference, Google showed off a new version of Maps that was a drastic change visually and a step-up in performance. Those features are now available in the latest Google Maps for Android, and will arrive soon for Apple iOS.
Google Maps for Android introduces new tiles to show maps and introduces a tablet view. The tablet view shows more information on screen of a Nexus 7 or ASUS Transformer, and smartphones will see new graphics that load faster than the previous version of Maps. Navigation has been improved to feature real-time traffic conditions that show reports of road incidents and provides alternative routes to avoid traffic jams.
Maps also improved the search and discoverability of certain areas. An "Explore" tab has been added as a new way to browse different restaurants, bars, shopping centers, and entertainment venues. Each place features reviews from Zagat and Google+ to help make a decision. Speaking of Zagat, Maps location listings have switched to the more traditional 5-star review system and curated lists. There's also a built-in section for Google Offers to promote discounts at select locations.
Google gave and also took away with this release. Offline Maps are not easily available unless someone searches for an area and then says "OK Maps" in the search box. My Maps is not available at all, but Google plans to introduce it in a future update. Google also announced that it will shutdown Latitude on August 9 in favor of Google+ check-ins.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.