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