Google Maps 5.0 Released for Android Platform; Includes 3D Landscapes, Offline Navigation and Compass Mode

Google yesterday officially released Google Maps 5 for Android devices which is now available for immediate download on Android Market. All devices programmed to receive automatic update for this App would have already received the upgrade silently.


The new Google Maps 5 now employs vector graphics for its maps, which are scalable and much lighter weight than the traditional stitched together images used in most Google Maps previous editions.

The vectors graphic rendering usage also enable users do fancy map manuplations with two fingers. For example, a two finger swipe downward/upward “tilts” the map revealing the 3D building and the landscape allowing users explore the world in 3D. The 3D landmarks can be panned and moved around with two-finger multitouch gestures.

Unfortunately, the 3D landscape and building view is not universally available at this point of time and we could check that it was only confined to a limited area in NY region so far.

Google Maps 5.0 allows rotating the map with twisting two fingers. After tilting to see 3D buildings, rotate around them to gain a new perspective from any direction.

Sliding two fingers together or apart, allows seeing the map and labels continuously scale to any zoom level, stopping when your fingers stop.

The other thing these low-bandwidth vector graphics of Google maps enables a huge amount of data caching of maps for offline viewing without data connection. We thought, this a really terrific update as it allows users pre-visit places they intent to visit using the available data connection and get the Maps cached before hand.

Infact entire trips can be routed in Navigation, including potential reroutes . The cached Maps, in our own experience, gives full functionality with zoom, layers and newly added most exciting feature dubbed as 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.

Besides, since dynamically drawing maps using vector graphics requires 100 times less data to get maps across all zoom levels, Google Maps 5 now allows 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 including in subways.

Some of the new features in Maps 5.0 includes:

  • Two finger Map Tilt, Rotate and pinch Zoom/Shrink
  • 3D Building and Landscapes
  • Vector Imagery instead of Tiles
  • Map Data caching
  • Off-line navigation
  • Compass Mode, allows auto map rotate with the user keep pointing at true North
  • Smooth Zooming / Zoom Out
  • Off-line re-routing

Ken Norton – Senior Product Manager Google Maps posted a video on YouTube demonstrating the upcoming Google Maps 5.0 for Android running on Nexus S smartphone showcasing some of the exciting new features in Google Maps 5.0 includes 3D buildings.

The Vector based-based graphics has shrunk data traffic in Google Maps 5.0 down to 1/100th as compared to the previous versions allowing users scan the Maps at bristling speed even with slow data connection.

Google Maps 5 for Android devices is now available for immediate download on Android Market (or this link if you’re on Android phone). Android 1.6+ devices can get Maps 5.0, but 3D and offline features require Android 2.0+.

Please visit Google Mobile Blog for an in-depth details.

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