Google has just announced some significant changes to its mobile Maps apps, with both offline mode and 3D maps heading to Android and iOS in the not-too-distant future.
Given the Big G’s purchase of Quickoffice – just after it was revealed Microsoft would finally bring its Office suite to mobile – we are under no illusions that Google will fight its competitors tooth and nail in every market going. Talk has been rife for several months of Apple’s plans to ditch the stock Google Maps app within iOS in favor of its own, in-house solution, and with 3D mapping – courtesy of C3 Technologies – being one of the main features, Google is looking to up its game in order to retain dominance in the mapping market.
3D mapping will, quite literally, take mapping to new dimensions, offering stunning visuals in a more feature-rich consumer experience. Google is well known as the lead company when it comes to the bird’s-eye-view, and will be looking to maintain that influence with these big updates.
As well as 3D mode, the offline mapping capabilities will certainly be music to the ears of those with erratic connections. Of course, it would bloat both iOS and Android versions of the app somewhat, but it’s certainly a step forward, and means that journeys can be planned and locations can be found regardless of whether you’re connected to the internet or not.
Specific details of exactly how everything will piece together are yet to be revealed, although there have been suggestions, for example, that if a device has a compass, Maps will utilize that in aiding navigation wherever a cellular or Wi-Fi connection isn’t available – a move which would truly allow your smartphone device to earn its "smart" moniker.
With the aforementioned sleuth of map-related Google software and features such as Street View, directions and navigation, it’s anybody’s guess how it will all eventually tie in, but the already released beta of "Labs" for Android certainly gives us a little indication.
Within Labs, one can enable offline maps by saving a portion of a local area – currently limited within a 10-square mile area. Given Google’s track record for delivering in this field, though, one suspects Google may relax those boundaries a tad further when the forthcoming iOS and Android updates arrive.