Andy Rubin, mastermind of Android and VP Engineering at Google, just had a very enlightening sitdown interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at All Things D and did not disappoint at all. Rubin snuck in a prototype tablet made by Motorola that runs Honeycomb, presumed to be Android 3.0 and is set to be launched sometime next year. Among the crazy things Rubin showed off on the tablet was an updated version of Google Maps, which will be launched “in a matter of days”.
The new Google Maps update, version 5.0, is doing away with tiling, which essentially involves stitching several flat images or maps together and can wreak havoc on map loading times. Instead of tiling, the new version will employ a more dynamic method using vectors. Much like on Google Earth for smartphones, Google Maps will now let you tilt and rotate the maps using two fingers. This offers the ability to see the maps in 3D (including buildings).
Also updated in GM 5 will be offline caching. This will be incredibly convenient to have, as it means you no longer need a continuous data connection just to load your maps or routes.Whenever you load a map it will be kept on file, especially for the places you go to the most. It will even be able to reroute you when offline. This will make the maps load much faster and will be much more convenient whenever you find yourself in a dead zone.
Google Maps 5 will be available on many of the latest Android phones out now. For sure, these devices will fully support the update:
- Nexus S
- Galaxy S
- Droid 1, 2, X, Incredible
- EVO 4G
- T-Mobile G2
All in all, December 6 was a great day for Android fans. Stay tuned for more information on the mysterious Motorola prototype and Honeycomb.
Google Maps 5.0 should be out in the coming days, so keep a close eye for it if you have one of the aforementioned phones. We’ll do the same on our end.
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