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Google Maps 5.0 for Android introduces 3D maps and offline mode

google maps 5 for android 3d screenshot
Google has just released version 5.0 of Google Maps for Android, and it might be the most significant update in the five-year history of Google's mobile maps app. For the first time the, Google Maps mobile app features 3D maps and an offline mode, making it both cooler-looking and more useful for Android users.

Maps are now dynamically drawn as vectors, instead of stitched together from static images. It's the end of watching the map load square-by-square. With the new 3D vectors, you can tilt and rotate the map in ways you couldn't before, and zoom in and out smoothly. You can also tap the compass button on the map to make the map rotate to match your perspective while keeping all the labels in place and easy to read.

Google has also solved the problem of trying to use maps when you can't get reception -- like in the subway or bus tunnel, for example -- by introducing caching. Locations you frequently view will be cached on your device so you can load them up later regardless of whether you're connected to the internet. The new dynamic 3D drawing actually makes this possible, because it requires a lot less data than the static images did. Map caching happens invisibly overnight while you're connected to Wi-Fi, so you don't even have to worry about configuring it.

As an added bonus, there's even offline rerouting. If your internet's not connected, but your GPS works, Google Maps 5.0 can actually deliver turn-by-turn directions based on your cached maps. This feature hasn't been fully rolled out yet, but Google says it should hit everyone in the next few weeks.

Google Maps 5.0 is available in the Android Market now for Android 1.6+ devices. However, the new 3D and offline features only work with Android 2.0 and above.

Tags: 3d, android, apps, caching, google, google maps, Google Maps for Mobile, GoogleMaps, GoogleMapsForMobile, maps