Search by voice and transit directions come to Google Maps on Android

Sunday, June 14, 2009 | 4:23 PM

Today we're releasing an upgrade to Google Maps for Android-powered phones. We've added a whole host of new features and fixed a few issues with Google Latitude.

You can now search Google Maps for Android using your voice, making it easier than ever to look up places while on the go. Whether you're searching for an address, a business, or nearby windsurfing spots, just speak your query and Google Maps will find it. Our voice recognition engine currently understands English in American, Australian, and British accents. After you search, you'll see a map of places. To help you decide where to go, we've improved our business listings to include content such as store hours, prices, ratings, and reviews.

We also added transit and walking directions to Google Maps for Android. You can now get directions using public transportation in over 250 cities, including New York City and San Francisco. If you're looking for the best route on foot, use walking directions to take advantage of pedestrian-only pathways and to avoid one-way restrictions - just in time for summer!

Google Maps for Android includes some big improvements to Google Latitude. We fixed an issue that caused background location updates to periodically stop for some of you. Now, once you select "Detect your location" from the Latitude privacy menu, your location will continue to update as long as your phone is on.

You may also notice a new experimental feature called Updates that lets you communicate with friends and post messages. Start Latitude and click the "Updates" tab to shout out updates at friends when they're at interesting locations, start a conversation when you're at your favorite restaurant, or just add more details to your Latitude location for your friends to see. Your friends will also need to download this new version of Google Maps for Android in order to use this experimental Updates feature -- they will not get your messages otherwise.

Unlike past Android software updates for the T-Mobile G1 or HTC Magic, the new Google Maps release won't be automatically pushed to your phone over the next few days. Instead, the upgrade is available for download in the Android Market. Just search for "Google Maps" and install today.

UPDATE: For those of you looking for Street View in Google Maps on Android, you'll find that we've integrated it more tightly with the rest of the app. Street View is no longer its own map mode. You can now check out Street View directly from any search result where imagery is available. You can also long-press any point on the map, in map view or satellite view, and you'll see a Street View thumbnail wherever imagery is available.

By Ole CaveLie and Chandan Pitta, Software Engineers

53 comments:

Jason said...

Love it! Why no mention of the helpful new movement-based direction arrow? I hope Google Mobile team is working in integrating more ancilliary features directly into the Map app. There is no reason My Maps Editor should be a separate application!

greg said...

This would have been great for when I was in San Francisco for Google I/O a couple weeks ago. :-(

Oh well, c'est la vie.

Shawn L said...

Works super so far, and even with limited information it seems to figure out what you mean. Wish I could use voice recognition in the directions field as well.

But where did street view go?

matt said...

Not only is this an awesome update, but what an awesome way to distribute! I hope Google continues to push app-specific updates out this way instead of bundling them with a carrier update push.

Will Shaver said...

Update Route!!!

Thanks so much!

Steven said...

Thanks for adding the public transit directions. Since switching from the iPhone, that's one feature I sorely missed. Good job and keep it up.

Tenkely said...

Great update! 2 questions:

1. Will Latitude users, not on Android, be able to see shouts or 'Shout out' themselves (iGoogle users or Blackberry users for instance)?

2. What is the string used to point to apps on the Market directly? //market something...
I would like to be able to send a link to friends via Google Talk.

sLoP said...

Overall a really great upgrade. Finally routes can be planned to arbitrary points. Speed improvements are noticeable, too (most probably due to removing the zoom-button-fade-in-and-out).

I am still missing the feature to actually save arbitrary points to some sort of favorite list. Win Mobile and iPhone have this feature for a long time now!

What's also bad is that the Street View map overlay has disappeared. With the update i cannot tell if a location has Street View by looking at the map alone. I have to try-and-error myself through the streets. VERY annoying! Street View becomes virtually useless if you have no clue what countries and cities feature Street View imagery. ... or am i missing something here?

Andrew said...

I am really happy with all the improvements. But I am frustrated, with the disappearance of Street View. That is a critical feature on a mobile device.

Is it gone forever? Coming back?

sLoP said...

In fact the Street View feature did not disappear, only the map overlay did. You can now long-press on any road and then tap on the address-bubble. Then comes a menu where you can select Street View if it's available. Actually you can tell that Street View is available if the address-bubble show a little picture of the location where you long pressed.

I still prefer the map overlay where you have the complete overview of where Street View is available and where not. :-(

NP said...

Getting "Low Memory" warnings with traffic on.. So are others here... Seems like Traffic in regions with a lot of data "e.g LA area" is overruning the memory available.

Anyone at Google seen this?? For here in LA, if the map developers now load the entire region or a larger region that would be a no go - it's a lot of data..

Deke said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Shawn L said...

Ah, thanks sLoP. That'll take a little getting used to, but glad it's still there.

Some more comprehensive release notes, somewhere, would be nice.

Deke said...

Had to play with it for a while! This version is a major improvement over the current app for Android. I'll never be late or early waiting for a bus or train again in NYC.

Ketzal said...

Not able to download it in the market. I'm based in New Zealand and am unable to download paid apps etc. Is there a way around this? I'm hoping the the Google lads understand that there's a world outside the US and a fair amount of Android users overseas. Be fantastic if these updates worked globally...

|[ j o s h ]| said...

I hope these features (and more) are added to the Palm Pre!

lkelemen said...

Hi,

On dev. phone (HTC dream) you don't see the updated map in the built in market app. Probably it is copy protected. Please fix it.

Thanks
Lajos

Brian said...

Could not find Google Maps via a search in the Android Market from my G1. I'm still waiting for OTA update to 1.5 cupcake. Does that have anything to do with it? I should be able to still find it in the market if other people here are.

Fitch said...

I already found unfortunate bugs with transit directions--

when you choose to view on map and hit menu or long-hold, it just stays on the route screen or shows a blank screen. Clicking it still takes you to the map, though.

The route also seemed to auto-update from "My Location" which is awful because I had a GPS fix, then, while looking at the route, it GPS gets turned off and reverts to cell-tower location, which changes my route!

Deke said...

Hey Brian... You know you can do a manual update to 1.5, right?

lmjabreu said...

Great update. How about rotating the map using the compass information? =) like iPhone OS 3.0 GMaps app does.

Mikey said...

I would love...........center-lock, on location of phone. Have the map rotate, towards the direction you are moving. That would be so helpful and less-confusing at times while driving :)

Great update though :)

Tenkely said...

@Mikey
I totally agree! Track up would be a wonderful option. When using the phone for driving directions I set it in my dash mount. I constantly have to swipe my finger across the screen to see where I am at again.
Other than that this update is very nice.

Vincent said...

I'm in Japan with a German G1 and the new maps doesn't show up in the market. Please fix this.

adrianhensler said...

The button to enable the microphone does not appear on my Rogers HTC Magic in Canada? Bug or 'feature'?

Jeff said...

What happened to the compass?

miki said...

You should update the latitude page for UK, because with the latest release of google map now latiture is available for G1 in UK too. (google map upgrade is available in the android market)

briantist said...

Great stuff, I can finally use the G1 to calculate walking routes for me.

And Latitude works now.

meeshi said...

Is it possible to set a default address for directions? For example, by default I would like to get directions from my home address unless I change it.

TK said...

@adrianhensler thats just the canadian govt meddling in your life trying to make you safe. on other notes. I would love to see a feature for latitude that buzzes my phone when my peepz are nearby, say within a km or something. Otherwise awesome update!

@grempel

Mikey said...

@ meeshi
The way i do it is a create a contact with my own info.
When picking "directions" i simply pick contacts option *that includes my address* and go from there.

RM said...

Thanks guys, great update and nicely distributed through the Marketplace!

The direction arrow is a terrific new feature.

If we're dreaming of the future: I'd love have a way to save maps right in the application, so you could plan vacation routes, for instance.

And, a lock to center and rotate option would be awesome. I know right now by selecting "My Location" it locks you to the center, but that's not terribly intuitive and it seems to break if you change the zoom.

Anyway, keep up the great work guys!

timbro said...

voice search doesn't work

jr said...

For some reason entering in a street address in Seattle keeps giving me a "No result found" message. Trying both my home and work address, and playing with formatting hasn't improved the result. Is there a bug here?

Emanuel said...

Thank you thank you thank you. The lack of public transit and walking directions had been driving me nuts!

zinmar said...

I have a HTC DREAM, using Rogers Wireless, how can i make the Google Maps Directions show transit directions? it seems so many phones have this ability, however this new phone only gives driving directions. please don't tell me to search something, as i have done this for days now... please give clear and direct links with direction on how to ad this feature. thanks.

Kempo said...

Great update on the whole.

It's a shame that it looks like Transport for London aren't sharing out their public transport info. Apparently it takes 7hrs to get from London Waterloo to Canary Wharf, and you have to go via Canterbury in Kent(!) Anyone know why they're not sharing? I guess they probably want you to buy their own journey planner from the market...

Also, disappointed that there is no voice search again for UK users.

Mão said...

I'm from Brazil and I can't search for a Google Maps on market. Nothing is returned. Please fix it.

Carsten said...

Another frustrated user from Denmark. Voice search does not work - mic is absent.

Can somebody explain why?

Fosnez said...

This is currently unusable in Australia on the Optus / HTC Dream because it is still running version 1.1 of android. Therefor it will not appear in the market.

Marcus said...

This morning I found an update to the version 3.1.1 in the german Android Market. Are there any release notes? I could not find any information with the google search.

Thanks a lot...

Magic_12 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Magic_12 said...

Hi,

same thing here on french network, version 3.1.1 ...

any info on this update ?

Mão said...

Here in brazil It still not available on market. I'm using cupcake 1.5.

Lee Jones said...

So... how about voice search for Blackberry users?

NP said...

See the new 3.1.1 also, STILL haven't fixed the "low memory" on traffic problem; seems to happen in LA area (guess a lot of traffic data for the region)... Anyone at Google seen this??

stephen ogden said...

when am i going to be able to CACHE the basic maps of my city ?!!! I am tired of re-downloading the same image of downtown...

David said...

Sadly fun features not fully, enabled in the UK

No voice search that i can find, and local transport directions does not use the info from TransportForLondon.

Also would be great to have either a compass or a rotating map to know which way to walk...

Mão said...

Agree, when we will be able to cache maps images?

An Unqu!et Mind said...

The Maps app for the iPhone has received incremental updates since the iPhone OS 2.0 release. iPhone OS 3.0 fails to exploit the Compass API. I am unclear as to whether Apple develops the Maps app in-house or if Google is privileged enough to be the only developer of a native application for iPhone. If, in fact, Google develops the application, is it possible for the new 3.0 APIs to be utilized to bring spatial-orientation to Street View like it is used on the G1. Can Google use the Voice Control API in unimaginable ways to make Maps the coolest App on the iPhone?

Scott said...

Have developer phone in NZ, no Google Maps in Marketplace - can we please have a copy of this, ffs we are the people making apps for your platform, we need to be able to integrate features as they are released!!

Also why cant we have the maps rotate on the G1, but can on the G2?

fix fix fix!!!

Greg said...

So disappointing not to have voice search in the uk.

If it recognises british voices in the maps how come we can't have it for full google voice searches too. Currently neither working for me on the Magic.

Want want want!

:D

Greg

danne said...

When will there be Voice Instructions for navigation? Looking at the screen can be really dangerous in traffic. I almost ran into another car today looking at the instructions.