Strategically announcing the news ahead of the anticipated WWDC news from Apple, Google will be releasing offline Google Maps for Android devices and very detailed 3D cities for Google Earth. This announcement, seen as a pre-emptive attack against Apple which is expected to ditch Google maps in favor of its own mapping services in upcoming iOS software is definitely good news for Android and Windows users.
At the moment, Google has 4 different mapping news: Android devices will get offline-available Google maps for up to 100 countries over the next couple of weeks; Google Earth mobile apps will get 3D cityscapes; Google Street View Trekker initiative sends Googlers to take pictures of places that Street cars, snowmobiles and trikes cannot reach; and finally, the Map Maker tool is being expanded to 12 new countries so that people can help improve the accuracy of Google Maps.
“It’s covering a number of things that we’ve been doing, and perhaps haven’t talked about as much as we should have done” said Ed Parsons, Google’s geospatial technologist. According to Brian McClendon, Google maps’ Vice president of engineering, Google’s objective is to tell their story despite there being so much going on. “We’re very proud of how far we’ve come in comprehensiveness, accuracy and usability” he said.
Of much interest to us is the offline Maps for Android devices which simply means that users will be able to download maps onto their devices and use them even without data connection. Parson says that this feature is long overdue and is one of the most demanded features. The default capping download sizes for the maps is 50MB meaning that users will inly download maps of particular areas that they intend to visit.
The launch of the offline Google Maps app will go a long way to encourage users to download the apps from Google Play store instead of waiting for their handset manufacturers or service operators to push out updates with the maps app embedded.
According to Parsons, iOS’s new maps application has been in development by Apple for some time. He says that Apple used Google’s mapping tiles in the background. “It’s an excellent platform (iOS) and we see it as one of the many devices that we’d like to provide Google Maps on” added McClendon.