December 16, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
The latest version of Google Maps has launched in the Android Market, ushering in the “next generation of mobile maps,” as Google said on its Mobile Blog.
Maps 5.0 is the 3D version of maps that Andy Rubin proudly displayed last week at D:Dive into Mobile. In this version, users are able to see a three-dimensional area with vector graphics instead of the flat, fixed images of previous versions. This allows tilting to zoom (supported in 100+ cities), rotating to see the other side of a building, zoom seamlessly, and use a compass button. (I really could use that in the maze that is New York City).
The most important feature of Maps 5.0 is better offline support. Google Maps for Android has traditionally been cloud-based and required a strong web connection in order to always be effective. Sure, you’d still get navigation if you lost your connection, but Maps offered little comfort if you had to detour or reroute in an area in which a connection was faint or lost. Version 5.0 will download the Maps to the phone and be capable to reroute even without a connection.
Sadly, Android 1.6 users will be unable to use 3D maps or have offline support. These features require Android 2.0 or higher. There are also some issues related to particular devices as not all phones support these features.
The following devices support touchscreen gestures in Google Maps for Android version 5.0. Due to hardware limitations, certain Android devices may not fully support every gesture available.
The following devices support panning, zooming, tilting, and rotating gestures.
- Samsung Nexus S
- Samsung Galaxy S
- Motorola Droid
- Motorola Droid 2
- Motorola Droid X
- HTC Incredible
- HTC EVO 4G
- HTC G2
The following devices support panning, zooming, and tilting gestures only.
- HTC Desire
- Sony Ericsson X10
- LG Ally
- HTC Nexus One
Note: This list of devices may be incomplete and may change in the future as new Android phones are available for purchase.