Tuesday, October 7, 2008 | 5:55 PM
On September 23, T-Mobile announced the world's first Android-powered phone, the G1. The phone comes preloaded with Search, Maps, Gmail with Contacts, Calendar, Google Talk, and YouTube. The applications are easy to use, fully synchronized with the web, and work together in new and innovative ways, as explained in our first post in the blog series: 'Google on Android'. Over the next couple of weeks, we will put the spotlight on each one of the Google applications for Android. Today: Maps. -- Marc Vanlerberghe, Product Marketing Director.
When we designed Google Maps for the T-Mobile G1, we set out to create a great mapping application that took full advantage of the G1's hardware, like the touch screen, accelerometer, and GPS, as well as the deep system integration made possible by the Android platform.
One of my favorite things to do with Google Maps on Android is to explore new and favorite places. You can pan around and zoom in and out easily using just your thumb on the touchscreen -- a big plus for all those times when that other hand is unavailable. And if I want to see a restaurant or building up close, I can switch to Street View and view a panorama from street level. I can even turn on Compass mode to let me look around the panorama by moving my phone up, down, and to the side. It's like popping up a virtual periscope anywhere you want to check out what's there with your own eyes. Check out the video below for a quick demo. Note that Street View on Android is only available in the US at this time.
When I'm in a new city or just a new part of town, I like to turn on My Location. It can use GPS or just the nearest cell tower to tell me where I am and re-center my position in the middle of my screen when I approach the edge. When I'm walking or in a taxi in a dense city, like New York, I zoom in to street level and turn on GPS for the highest accuracy.
And as I wander the city, I can search for nearby businesses (like restaurants), and use Android's integrated Map features to save search results to my contacts. For instance, if I find a restaurant that I like, I can save it to my contacts and then later on call it or Map it with one touch. In the future, when I do another search with Maps, I might even see this contact again as a suggested search result along side past queries.
Maps is also integrated with email, IM, and the web on Android. For instance, street addresses that appear as plain text in these apps become touchable zones that you can click on to take you straight to Maps. Something similar happens when a Google Maps link is pasted into an email, IM or placed on a web page. When I touch it, I can choose whether to view the map in the browser, in Google Maps, or in any other application that's built to handle what's known to Android developers as an "intent." Or, I can make the choice once and save it as my default map-viewing application (Google Maps, in my case).
Perhaps best of all is that most of the resources, flexibility, and functionality in Google Maps are available to any application written for Android. Cab4me and Locale are both Android Developer Challenge winners that used the Android platform to build compelling applications with maps and location at their core. Any developer can use Android's MapView and location APIs to build location-aware mobile applications like these. While the team is proud of Google Maps on Android and other cool applications we've seen to date, we're equally excited to see what new kinds of maps and location-enabled applications developers create in the coming months.