Google Maps for Android Review

Published: Friday, July 12, 2013 - 09:00 | By: JR Moore

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Google just recently made a major revamp to their Google Maps app for Android devices 4.0.3+ users. This is what everyone has been waiting for since they announced the update at Google I/O. Let's dive in for a quick look.


The update brings a refreshed UI that brings it in line with Google's Holo design. The maps are more streamlined and the options will all be in card form. Some normal users will be taken back by the redesign, and with all of the texts that I have answered and Facebook posts that I answered, it will confuse people. When you get the update, just take a second before you go and get lost in the big city.

The first thing you realize that the whole look is simple. The maps are clean with just a search bar and a little tab on the side. The tab shows the menu with the layers that are available and your settings. The search bar has that 'onmibar' approach that is now everything Google and is the hidden gem of this app. If you tap the person logo, it will show you your stuffs. A real nice feature is that you can now change your home and work on the fly. Other features on that screen is quick access to recently saved places, as well as see all the reviews that you have submitted to Google.

Next to the person logo on the onmibar is your easy access to the Navigation. The navigation has been majorly improved (thanks Waze) by giving you live traffic updates and using dynamic rerouting to get you to your destination quicker by getting you around those traffic incidents and "outsmarting traffic jams".

The rest of the search bar still has some magic in it. Type in what you are searching for and it will look for it. From there it will show you the closest location that's matches, but you can always tap another spot to change what it was finding. This also will change the partially hidden card that is peeping off of the bottom of the screen. Swiping that card up will give you all the information about the place, along with a street view and reviews. Something that threw off people is that when you want to get directions to the place you want to go, tap the car. Yes, it's a facepalm moment, but it took me a while too. It will jump you to the navigation card.

If you leave the the omnibar blank and just tap it, it will bring up your Explore card of the app. This will look different everywhere (mine were just logos, but I've seen some with pictures too). This will replace you going to the Local app to look for nearby goodies. It will let you find your local restaurants, bars, gas stations, events, etc. With the review cards it will give you all the information like you searched it yourself. You will also see a "Featured by Zagat" part since, you know, they own them now too. This Explore section is bigger and better than what Local did, so it is a much welcomed improvement.


Another thing that you can do by tapping the blank bar is, with the recent update, you now have the ability (again) to make the map that you are looking at available offline for those "don't-wanna-use-data" moments. In the beginning, they made it an Easter egg and once you are on the area that you wanted you would type or say "OK maps" and it would cache it. If you "still want some thumbercise", this is still a feature.

This is a welcome update to this app. I always used Maps before and was pumped when it was shown at Google I/O. Now that it's here, it is even better than though. It will take the basic user a second to get it but after that you'll be glad you did. This is a global update that will be rolling out. If you read this and are mad because it's not on your phone yet, give it a second. If you are impatient, you can always try to uninstall Maps and reboot your phone and install it again. If that won't work for you, there are plenty of sites that have the APK available.

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JR Moore is the Former Chief Editor at TechRaptor. When he's not living life, he's connected to an Xbox, a phone or tablet checking out the latest and greatest.