Google Maps adds 3D buildings, dynamic rendering, and offline mode for Android

google-maps-android-3d-buildingsGoogle Maps may not be the hottest new thing at Google, but it’s still getting a bit of attention. Last night, at the D: Dive Into Mobile Conference in San Francisco, Google’s Android chief, Andy Rubin, unveiled some new features to Google Maps. New techniques that make it faster to draw maps on Android smartphones has made it possible for the search giant to introduce smoother, faster zooming and introduce 3D maps, reports the NY Times. No, not pop-out-of-the-screen 3D. In major cities, Google Maps will allow you to rotate the camera angle, showing a 3D view of buildings.

The new technique is called “dynamic rendering,” and it allows Google to draw maps in real time on Android smartphones instead of loading in pre-rendered “tiles,” like it currently does. Currently, a “screenful” of map loads on the phone, but if you zoom in, or try to move from side to side, you must wait a few extra seconds so the app can load the next “tile” of map. Dynamic rendering will allow maps to render faster, in real time, and should improve how smooth the experience is, especially when zooming in and out of a map. Since zooming is done in real time, street and building names will more quickly resize and change when you move in and out.

In roughly 50 cities, Google Maps will also have 3D buildings available to view, allowing you to look at maps from different angles outside from the traditional top-down view. The benefits are huge. For example, if you’re looking for a familiar area or street intersection, now you can change the angle to see if the buildings are as tall or look as you remember. The feature is basically a step up from Street View, the most zoomed in level of Google Maps, which shows real 360 degree photos of every block in major metropolitan areas. Google obtains these photos by driving actual camera cars around the world. This new 3D maps feature does not use real photos.

Finally, Maps will now have some offline capabilities. Previously, the minute you lose your wireless signal, Maps is useless. Now, Google will store frequently used maps on your phone, which will auto update every time they are viewed. This means that even if you lose signal, Google’s turn-by-turn directions may still keep working. A much needed fix for those in spotty coverage areas.

The new update should arrive for the Galaxy S, Droid, Droid X, Droid 2, Droid Incredible, EVO 4G, Nexus S, and G2 in a few days. Other smartphone platforms, including the iPhone, will eventually get the new features as well.

UPDATE 11:38 a.m. EST: Video of the Google Maps demonstration can be found here.

Smart Home

The C By GE Smart LED Bulbs Work Seamlessly With Google Home

The Smart Light Starter Kit contains a smart lightbulb and a Google Home Mini. For those seeking to try out smart lights in their home, it's a great option and is currently on sale for just $35 through Google.

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.

A render video gives us a 360-degree look at the midrange Pixels

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.
Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Midrange phones can’t do A.I., but MediaTek’s P90 chip aims to change that

MediaTek has announced the Helio P90 mobile processor, which it says will bring the best A.I. features we see on high-end smartphones, to the mid-range. We spoke to the company about the chip.