Google Maps improves 3D mapping, Street View’s reach, and adds offline support for Android

google maps iconThis morning, Google introduced its latest iteration of Google Maps, complete with all the 3D support we figured was on its way, as well as a few surprises. Since the rumor that Apple’s own maps client was on its way and the surge in alternative mapping services, there’s been some discussion about the future of Google Maps. But the veteran application appears to be taking all the necessary steps it needs to in order to stay relevant. You can check out a comprehensive list of updates here, but these are the three big upgrades hitting the app. 

3D

The feature we all knew was coming, a much-improved 3D interface for Google Earth, was officially announced today (you think you’re so sly with that “next dimension” reference, don’t you Google?). All that 3D goodness will now be baked into Google Earth for metropolitan areas. Google plans to expand this coverage quickly as well.

Google used fly-over footage to capture 45-degree aerial imagery for this new feature – which gives the effect of Street View plus 3D plus subtle animation. Google also showed off a feature called Tour Guide, which lets you use its new 3D tools to explore the available cities.

The new capabilities will hit iOS and Android within the coming weeks.

Street View

google maps street view trekkerOverhead 3D images they are not, but the Street View technology is stretching its reach. Google is launching the Street View Trekker, taking its camera and going where wheels cannot. It’s a backpack-camera combo that will capture terrain Google previously hasn’t had access to – think hiking trails and walking paths.

Offline support for mobile

Android users, rejoice: you’re getting offline support with the new Google Maps. The ability to find directions even when you don’t have a data connection has been one of the more requested features for mapping clients since… since people started using Google Maps on their smartphones. Imagine the various times you’ve been stranded, connection-less, and all you wanted was a cached version of your directions. Well, Android users, you’re in luck.

Google wants to bring this to all platforms, but for the time being, it’s Android-only. You can’t help but assume that this capability is something Apple isn’t allowing Google to throw into the iOS app just yet — either because Apple plans to offer the same function in its forthcoming client and doesn’t want to give Google first dibs or because it’s not, and doesn’t want that to be a tipping point for users.

Will it be enough?

That’s the resounding question following today’s press conference. Is this the preemptive strike Google needed to issue before Apple announces its own answer? Obviously only time will tell and it’s possible that Apple would come barreling out of the gate with an extremely competitive product. But my money’s on Google: with such an infinite amount of data (ever-changing, data as well), veteran status and long-standing resources matter. The largest hurdle Google will face in this is that native app placement is a big deal, and iPhone users could easily defer to whatever Apple’s allegedly about to throw on their homescreens. 

I think familiarity and a unified user experience (if you use Google Maps on the desktop, won’t you want to use it on your phone?) coupled with all of Google continuing efforts will be enough to keep it a frontrunner. 

Cars

Google Maps now shows EV owners the way to the nearest charging station

Google Maps now lets electric-car owners find the nearest charging station with ease. It's also added data on the number and types of ports available, charging speeds, and notes on the business where the station is located.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for October 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Mobile

Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel 3 is here, boasting top-tier specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, and some of the world's best artificial intelligence features on a phone. But can it take out the Apple iPhone XS?
Mobile

Key settings you need to change on your brand-new Google Pixel 3 or 3 XL phone

Google's Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones are now available. If you've set the phone up, we've rounded up a handful of key settings we think you should tweak or turn on to get the most out of your new device.
Mobile

Xiaomi phone with 5G and 10GB of RAM will become more than just a rumor next week

Xiaomi will announce the Mi Mix 3 smartphone on October 25, and according to the company's spokesperson, it will be capable of connecting at 5G speeds and feature 10GB of RAM -- two world firsts.
Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.
Mobile

Key settings you need to change on your brand-new LG V40 ThinQ

Now that you've got your brand-new LG V40 ThinQ, it's time to get to work. Whether its hiding the notch or setting a schedule for the blue light filter, here are some key settings you'll want to change on your LG V40 ThinQ.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Mobile

Keep Notes is the latest app to get Google’s Material Design makeover

Google is updating more and more of its apps to come into line with its latest Material Design trends, and now it's Keep Notes' turn to get a new pair of pants. This update is now rolling out on Android devices.
Mobile

The upcoming OnePlus 6T may get a major camera update

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Mobile

Verizon's newest deals can net you $500 off the LG V40 ThinQ

Looking for a new LG flagship? The LG V40 ThinQ is here, and it's bringing a familiar style, two more camera lenses, and upgraded specs. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the LG V40 ThinQ.
Mobile

Pixel 3 XL vs. Pixel 2 XL vs. Pixel XL: Which XL is best for you?

A Google Pixel XL is the best phone to get if you want the perfect Android experience on a big screen. However, with the release of the Pixel 3 XL, you have more choices then ever. Which Pixel XL should you buy?
Mobile

LG V40 ThinQ vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Can the V40 unseat the king?

The LG V40 ThinQ is packing a massive display and an incredible five lenses, making it a unique offering in the market. But is it better than the Galaxy Note 9, another phone with a huge display and great cameras?