The next generation of mobile maps

Thursday, December 16, 2010 | 9:30 AM

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog and the Google Lat Long Blog)

Update (12/17/2010 11:30am PST): Check out a related post on the technology powering Google Maps 5.0 for Android.

I’m excited to announce Google Maps 5.0 for Android, with two significant new features: 3D interaction and offline reliability.

We launched Google Maps for mobile a little more than five years ago. Since then, we’ve added dozens of features, and we’ve grown from a few thousand to more than 100 million users. Still, a couple of things have remained the same: a flat, north-up map and the need for a strong Internet connection. Today, we’re changing that for the first time.

Tilt while zoomed in (left) or use compass mode (right) to orient yourself with 3D buildings.

Explore maps in 3D
Until now, Google Maps has always downloaded the map as a set of small, square images that we stitch together to form the map you see. (You’ve probably seen those gray squares getting filled in, block-by-block, as the images load over the network.) Starting today, we’ll use vector graphics to dynamically draw the map on your device as you use it, allowing you to interact with it in new ways:
  • Tilting: Drag down with two fingers to tilt the map. Tilt while zoomed in on one of the 100+ cities around the world with 3D buildings to see a skyline spring to life.
  • Rotating: Twist with two fingers to rotate the map. After tilting to see 3D buildings, rotate around them to gain a new perspective from any direction.
  • Smooth zooming: Slide two fingers together or apart, and see the map and labels continuously scale to any zoom level, stopping when your fingers stop.
  • Compass mode: Center the map on your location, and then tap the compass button in the top right corner. The map will flip into 3D mode and start rotating to match your perspective, while still keeping all the labels upright and readable.
I found 3D buildings especially useful on a recent trip to New York. From my hotel to the Google office in Chelsea and bars on the Lower East Side, this richer representation of the real world made the map much more helpful. And whenever I walked out of a building or subway station, I used compass mode to get myself quickly oriented and on my way. Check out the video below to see tilt, rotation, zoom and compass mode in action, or see more pictures.



Offline reliability
Google Maps has always been, and continues to be, a fundamentally Internet-connected experience, meaning you always get the freshest map and place data, search and voice search, live traffic conditions, satellite and Street View imagery, and much more. Still, we understand that mobile Internet connections aren’t 100% reliable. So today we’re happy to take the first steps toward greater offline reliability, so you can find your way even if you lose your connection.

In the past, you’ve probably had frustrating moments when you get stranded without a map, whether ducking into the subway, sitting at the back of a restaurant or traveling anywhere with a flaky Internet connection. But dynamically drawing maps requires 100 times less data to get maps across all zoom levels, so now we’re able to proactively cache (or store) large areas on your device based on where you use Maps the most. This way, you can rely on having fast, robust maps available to you where you’re most likely to need them.

For example, I live in San Francisco and work in Mountain View, so Maps makes sure I can always pull up detailed street maps of each city and area maps for the whole San Francisco Bay Area. When I do have an Internet connection, I still get live traffic, imagery, richer map details and all the other features I’m used to with Google Maps.

Rather than having a static set of maps when installed, Maps will automatically start caching the areas you visit the most when your device is plugged in and connected to WiFi (e.g., the nightly charge). We’re already hard at work improving the algorithms and technology behind these features, so over time you can expect to see maps work better in more offline situations.

Offline rerouting
If you’re one of the more than 10 million people relying on Google Maps Navigation (Beta), our free turn-by-turn GPS navigation feature, losing your Internet connection can be particularly painful. (This happened to me on a recent ski trip to Tahoe, and I was left trying to manually find my way back to my route.) So we’re also introducing offline rerouting. You’ll still need a connection to start a route, but if you miss a turn along the way, we’ll quickly get you back on track, even if you don’t have an Internet connection. We’ll be rolling this feature out gradually over the next few weeks.

Google Maps Navigation now automatically reroutes you, even if you lose your connection.

These new features are just the first steps in maximizing dynamic map drawing technology to create a faster, more interactive experience where efficiency really matters: mobile devices. For example, we estimate that viewing maps now requires almost 70% less mobile network data overall than before. We can’t wait to take the next steps in making Google Maps faster, more reliable and even more useful no matter where you take it.

Get Google Maps for mobile 5.0 by searching for Google Maps in Android Market (or tap on this link if you’re on your phone). Android 1.6+ devices can get Maps 5.0, but 3D and offline features require Android 2.0+, and some features may not be supported for all devices or countries.

So try it out. Wander around in compass mode, explore 3D buildings—even dare to open Maps on the subway! I hope you enjoy all the new features as much as we do.

88 comments:

CristianTM said...

What about this on iPhone? :)

Maps for IPhone is fine, but... I would really enjoy better offline caching

brett said...

Google Maps 5 3d buildings do not work on Nexus One.

dunn said...

Please please consider including *Hong Kong* for tilting 3D map...please...

Sid Burgess said...

Thanks for launching this. The caching is making a big difference, especially when in rural areas.

Khurram A. said...

should also be available for Symbian^3 and other platforms as well.

Heather said...

This is fantastic and I appreciate that you're including older versions as well in this development! Thank you.

Hadriel said...

Is it released to all markets?
Because I can't find it anywhere on my X10, and the link provided here doesn't work.

Chris said...

For us Nexus One users with crippled multitouch, what are the chances we can get a control to unlock orientation, like Google Earth? Maybe as a Labs add-on?

Puh-puh-puh-please!

鬼徒二等兵 said...

Great work!
Google maps is rendered useless currently by my carrier's data roaming charges when I travel to neighboring countries.
Google maps is a serious navigation software now with offline caching capability.

Scott D said...

On the Incredible everything works great except I can't get the two finger rotate to work. Tilting works so I know it's not a multi touch issue. Ideas?

Mike said...

I didn't realize that the N1 didn't have full multitouch. It was shocking to see the orientation feature unavailable when I downloaded the new version.
Agreed that there should be a lab to manually rotate though.

It would be great to select a city to prefetch maps for instead of just prefetching regular areas. Particularly useful for travelling to areas where data roaming is prohibitively expensive.

DavidLagerström said...

Why doesn't it work on Nexus One? Or does it have something to do with my geographic location (Sweden)?

Florian said...

I have the same problem as Scott D.

I can tilt and zoom in and out, but I can't rotate the map. When I enable compass mode, the map rotates automatically but I can't rotate it with two fingers.

This is on a motorola defy.

ASHUTOSH said...

what about for symbian s60v5 users??

Mike said...

There's a list of support devices:

http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=1079043

RichardHunt said...

Same issue as Scott D on the HTC Desire, but i think this is because rotating isn't supported on the desire according to http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=1079043
No idea why the desire isnt fully supported..

thegoodman800 said...

I can't download the update from here in the philippines. it doesn't even show up both when I try to search the market not when I click on the links available online.is there any way I can get past this?

-using my nexus one

Colleen O'Rourke said...

Ok, so these features are nifty, and at some point Im sure they will prove invaluable. However, I know how to use maps as maps, and on a day to day basis, I just want it to be a static, north-up map that i can zoom in and out of.

My concern is that when Latitude is turned on, it automatically and immediately starts zooming in and rotating in on my location and the location of my friends and so forth. I don't want that. I would like a setting where I can turn it *back* to how it was before, so I can leave Latitude on and just see my friends icons appear on the flat map as I move around it normally. Cause the way it is now, it seems like I cant just leave Latitude on all the time and use the map normally.

Also I would like to turn off the zoom-out-and-in thing it does now when I'm shifting from person to person because it has made me nauseous already.

Gallo said...

Please do this for iPhone also!

Rene said...

Great stuff on my Galaxy S.
Best app ever!
Its a pity the 3D buildings do not show up. How come? I live in Holland and use Vodafone.

Robert said...

Wow! I have been waiting for this impatiently. Works great on the original Droid. Once again...GOOGLE ROCKS it!!! I feel bad for Garmin and TomTom...

Rene said...

And suddenly it works in 3D. This is really amazing. GOOGLE is miles ahead!

Jeremy C said...

Is this a release for the USA only or is this already available for other markets? Has anyone outside of the US had any luck updating and seeing and using each of these features? Please be specific if you have any feedback!

OT: Bravo Google!

Mike said...

@Jeremy C: Yup, I'm in Canada.

KA said...

where does it cache the files?

J'Dawg said...

Looks great on the Nexus S. Good work guys!

V. said...

The 3d buildings show up.. you just have to zoom in quite abit.

ryanmmoore said...

not getting mine to rotate... is tha tfor only 3d cities?

in canada on a galaxy s

Keith Sanders Photography said...

Love the new features but I can't get the 3d feature to show on my EVO 4G. I've centered Manhattan in my screen, press the compass button icon and it always takes me back to show my location on the map. I want to be able to view these 3d maps before I get to Manhattan! What do I do to get the compass button to quit taking me to my current location?

sathya said...

This is awesome! Thank you Google! Digging this on my Nexus One!

Henrique said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Henrique said...

We Nexus One owners might even accept (not willingly) that its HW won't support rotation through multitouch, but not also having a SW-based alternative is not an option! Please give an alternative, unless it's just gilberish. Google customers are having a worse experience than HTC or Samsung customers on a Google product...

I just find it intriguing that much simpler apps like Fish-to-go are able to detect rotation movement in the Nexus One, and a Google owned app can't!

c0up said...

Wowzers. A ridiculous improvement in speed due to the caching, and all the new gestures work wonderfully on my Galaxy S.

When's the Sydney CBD going to be in 3D?!

Mackan said...

And how 'bout navigation for Sweden?

said...

It's not working in Xperia X10... Someone has the same problem?

Dave said...

Amazing - congrats and thanks! It's simply mesmerizing to pan around and watch the buildings grow out of the ground as they load.

One suggestion: it's apparent that the multi-touch rotation gesture isn't supported on some older phones (including the Nexus One). How about an alternative, like on-screen buttons, in such cases? I notice there are still zoom buttons, why not rotate?

Thanks again!

Akelarre said...

So the Nexus One, which is supposed to be a fully supported Google phone is NOT 100% compatible with Google Maps. That says it all about Google designs... and don't tell me about the Nexus S. The Nexus One is not even 1 year old.....

Ole Anders said...

Great update. But the ability to pre-cach somewhere else would be a great addition. It is when you are abroad in a foreign city that you really could use some good maps and navigation, yet that's exactly when you can't afford to download them. If I could fetch, say, London before I left Sweden that would be fantastic.

bazz said...

Navigation in Sweden is still not working, though my Desire keeps on 'checking if navigation is supported'...
When will we get this feature up here?

James Moore said...

"now we’re able to proactively cache (or store) large areas on your device based on where you use Maps the most."

This is backwards - I have the least need for maps of where I am all the time. I have the most need for maps of the place I'm going on Tuesday, since I've never been there before.

How about a feature that lets me tell the map where I'm going to be, so if I'm offline at 1am when I'm getting off the plane, I still have a map?

Sir Brian said...

In order for the 3D maps to appear, do I need to be on foot, outside with GPS on? Or just on foot, outside? Or can I be inside a building, looking at the maps? I have a Droid Incredible and Droid X, and using this in Atlanta, GA.

Francisco Pinto said...

On the LG Optimus One (P500) everything works (tilting, rotating,...) except the 3D buildings... Anyone knows why?

ODD said...

Amazing! I've tried to update my embeded google maps app to 5 version on my moto milestone, but I'm not able to find it on the new market, can you tell me why please?

Andy said...

for all of those non-Android users looking for the latest and greatest Google has to offer, why don't you give up your pretty little jewelry-like accessory (err, umm, iPhone...?) and get yourself a blazing fast, super-duper Android-powered device such as an Evo or any of the other great devices offered... just sayin'...

MothBox said...

The ability to choose where to cache would be a good addition. There are certain areas where I may go where I don't get a data connection, or the data connection is through a roaming service (near a border) so being able to cache a certain area before I leave the house, through my wifi network, then access this map later would be good.

I tend to only look at a map when I'm lost - in a new area. How will Google Maps decide what it should cache on an evening?

svtime said...

Just gave this a test drive. EXCELLENT work! I especially like the compass mode. It will surly come in handy while walking around San Francisco. :)

Bill Gabbert said...

So you're going to cache maps on my phone. That's nice, but how much memory are you going to take over? I have already had to delete some apps on my original Droid because I was getting low on space. Will there be a limit, or can we adjust the limit, or delete the map cache if we have a space problem?

Bryan Chung said...

Is Navigation available in Singapore already?

Fazil Abdul Lathif said...

Tilting works but where is the top menu bar for compass and stuff. .. I cant see that. .. Is there some stupid setting

Marco said...

I can't find app on market, even you link doesn't work. Desire HD

Lars said...

When will there be a Windows Phone 7 version?

=MUPP= oGre said...

Why no app2SD support? This is one of the biggest apps on my phone and it's killing the available memory on HTC Desire. Also since you decided to artificially block navigation in Sweden, I have to use Maps Brut in parallel just to get navigation - another 10 meg. This sucks so bad.

al said...

The ability to choose where to cache would be a good addition. There are certain areas where I may go where I don't get a data connection, or the data connection is through a roaming service (near a border) so being able to cache a certain area before I leave the house, through my wifi network, then access this map later would be good.

I tend to only look at a map when I'm lost - in a new area. How will Google Maps decide what it should cache on an evening?www.orjinkrem.net

Pedro said...

I know rotating isn't activated on N1 and Desire because of the multitouch bug, but can we have at least some on-screen buttons to rotate the map ?

SilentMobius said...

How do you identify which device you're running on to switch on/off the rotate gesture? ro.build.fingerprint? I'm seeing plenty of devices that _should_ support the rotate gesture failing to enable it.

Michiel said...

Maps now look better and load faster, and zooming and panning is smoother. For me, however, it's still not usable in practical use. Caching maps for the areas I visit most is not very useful, I know those areas. I need to pre-download areas I don't visit often. Also, I need to be able to store the cached maps on SD-card, since my HTC Desire will quickly run low on internal disk space. Finally, I cannot understand why navigation is not available world-wide. Nokia has had that for ages, why not Google?

Abdul Kahar said...

It would be great to select a city to prefetch maps for instead of just prefetching regular areas. Particularly useful for travelling to areas where data roaming is prohibitively expensive.

radit said...

not working on wildfire

Jesper said...

Please develop a feature that would enable me to plan a route across europe and prefetch mapdata so I won't get ripped of in roaming fees.

Olivier said...

3d buildings and vector graphics don't seem to work on my Milestone (2.1). I can tilt the map, but no 3d buildings appear and when moving around it still loads with tiles.

DconBlueZ said...

I've been experimenting and it appears that if you manually move the map over your planned route and let it load the maps, it is caching them. I haven't had a chance to actually travel my planned route (which I know from previous trips has large sections with no signal), but the cache size definitely increased every time I moved the map to a new area while connected to my home wifi. (Samsung Galaxy S). My used cache size went from 0 to 12MB over a 450-mile planned trip. Hope this helps.

Sang said...

it's so cool from gmap 5.0 i like that

CDL said...

This app keeps getting better and better!

As others have said, what is _really_ needed is a way to prefetch maps of places one hasn't been to before. By the way, I've been using maps and navigation for a couple of days after the update, and nothing is being cashed, even though I have the prefetch setting as "Prefetch map tiles even when not on WiFi" (Nexus One).

And also as others have said, it would be fitting to have a rotation control for phones that do no support the twist gesture, like---quite disappointingly---Google's very own Nexus One!

Francisco said...

Good and awaited news, but Google is very optimistic. The truth is that only if you have one of the newest and most powerful phones, your Google Maps will look exactly the same like the previous version.
I understand it about 3D, but why can't I use gestures, rotate the map or access the vector graphics in a Hero with Android 2.2?

Lucian.cioranu said...

I live in Romania. The application is not visible on market. Any idea why? It will be released later?

Preston said...

When will these features - esp. caching, vector maps and 3D - be available for the regular maps.google.com desktop webpage?

Robert said...

You suck Google! Why no iPhone version?

Jacob said...

Yay, works perfectly on my HD2 ^^. And since its running android from my SD card I have no problems with lack of space for the cache. Still, It is ironic that it works better on an HD2 with ported Android than on a Nexus One. Shame on Google...

Andres said...

I can't find it in the market. Or rather, the link I click doesn't work. Anything to do with me being in estonia?

JG said...

Thank you very much for this feature.

It would also be nice to be able to have a fully offline navigation, where one could choose a route without needing Internet even for the initial route calculation.

This is VERY interesting for using abroad. In Europe, it is easy to go from one country to another. In those cases, connecting to the Internet can be extremely expensive.

Anyway, thank you very much for this evolution!!! :)

Gabrio said...

i totally agree with JG, we need to have a full offline navigation, despite having the ultra latest update, that can always be updated, just like Nokia Maps, that would be great.

gabrio

Gabrio said...

oh and i have forgot, when you use the distance tool from "labs" if i exit maps then it's not there, i need to go to labs and re-enable it, then use it.

gabrio

kuro said...

Andres said...

I can't find it in the market. Or rather, the link I click doesn't work. Anything to do with me being in estonia?

December 18, 2010 6:24 AM

yeah, no luck with it for me, too. maps in my desire have no update button, link in browser from official site and qr barcode both give the same response from market: there are no matches in android market for the search: pname:com.google.android.apps.maps.

ja mina olen ka eestis, jah..

Mihkel Tiidus said...

Yep, same here, no way update on an HTC Gratia - also in estonia.

Erez said...

Why can't I download it in Israel??
I just get 404 not found...

John Navas said...

Maps v5 is as bad as Map v4 was good, so bad I've rolled back to Maps v4 on my Nexus One. Maps v5 is fat and slow, directions are less easy to follow, and are all too often wrong (like the wrong way on one-way streets). No thanks.

Myron said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Shibby said...

If you are losing your connection and need offline routing on the Embarcadero in SF as in the post then you must have AT&T for sure.

Legolas84 said...

This new function is great, but what ist with the nexus One?
No 3D-Map supported? wtf

@Google
The nexus One is not even a jear old and now i heared, that the new 3d function isn´nt supportet on Googles own mobile phone nexus one?
I hope this is a joke...a bad joke!
Please fix this.

Hussain said...

Google Maps (any version) is not shown in the Market. I am using Nexus One from Pakistan.

Hussain said...

One other thing, checking in Settings->Applications->Map shows the cache to be 0.00bytes in size. Why isn't it caching anything?

NightSoul said...

One thing I really miss with Google nav for Android is "Estimated time of arrival".
I would greatly prefer this instead of "Time to destination".
Hope you will implement that sometime in the near future.

LukeSF said...

Used to be able to search for an item, and when it came up on the map, click the call or direction icons, which seem to be gone in this release. Seems like a step backward. HTC EVO

Rajesh said...

In my opinion working on GPS maps in NZ will be good part to work on than improving 3d maps

richard_williams said...

What on earth are you doing Google?

You do not support your latest software on what was until recently the phone which you supposedly designed.

It makes me wonder about android in general.

At least with Iphone you know that the thing is both designed and made by apple, and the software is designed to work with the phone

I bought an N1 last Jan. so that I could keep up to date with the latest features. this is nonsense

nickblue said...

Will it be working on Wildfire soon?

simran said...

Is it available for apple's iPhone and for iPods touch.

Niraj Kapasi said...

I have Android 2.1 on Sony Ericsson X10 MiniPro and have downloaded the Maps 5.0, but I do not see the button for the Compass Mode.