Google Maps updated with Google contact search, local categories

Google updated its Maps application with several new features that make the app a bit more personal. The biggest change will be in search, which now integrates with your Google contacts. Once you sign in to your Google account with Google Maps, the app will pull in the names and addresses from your contacts. These addresses will appear when you search for your friends or family members by name.

Google also added a new local feature that lets you search for nearby businesses by selecting categories such as restaurants, bars, gas stations and more. It's a quick and easy way to find services that are near to you. Last but not least is a setting that lets you toggle between kilometers or miles for your distance units.

Google Maps for iOS is a universal app that is free for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

[Source: TUAW]

Google and Kia partnership will bring Google Maps and Places to new cars this year

Korean car-maker Kia is set to give its UVO eServices telematics a huge shot in the arm, teaming up with Google to offer its next-generation navigation system. The new setup will debut in this year's Sorento CUV, which is scheduled to arrive in Q1. Kia's updated (once Microsoft-assisted) UVO system will allow users to send directions and locales from their smartphone (or the web) to your new ride. Baked-in Google Places will also inform you of your nearest dealership (even when you're already in that new Kia) while existing music management, hands-free features and improved voice recognition will all be wrapped into the same interface. Kia explains it all in the full press release after the break.

[Source: Engadget]

iOS 6 Adoption Up 29% After Google Maps Hits App Store

Google Maps was released for iOS on December 12, and in the five days after it hit the App Store, ad management platform MoPub noticed a 29 percent increase in unique iOS 6 users. 

The data from MoPub, which supports 12,000 apps and monitors 1 billion ad impressions daily, suggests that quite a few iDevice owners were waiting for a better mapping solution before upgrading to Apple's newest operating system.

TechCrunch spoke to MoPub CEO Jim Payne, who had this to say:

"We observed since the launch of Google Maps for iOS 6 a 30 percent increase in unique iOS 6 users, and we think it's related to Google Maps. It verifies that hypothesis that people were actually holding back to upgrade until Google Maps was available."

MoPub's data does, however, conflict with another report from mobile ad network Chitika, which saw just a 0.2 percentage point increase in iOS 6 users in the first 36 hours of Google Maps availability. MoPub seems to include a wider set of data than Chitika and which was taken over a longer period of time, and MoPub's inclusion of weekend data in particular seems to have contributed significantly to the observed increase in adoption, as people may have been waiting to do the lengthy update to iOS 6. 

An increased iOS 6 adoption rate following the launch of Google Maps not only benefits Google, but also Apple, which naturally wants as many users as possible on its latest operating system version. With Google's mapping solution now taking some of the pressure off of Apple's own flawed product, one major reason holding some users back from updating to iOS 6 has been addressed.

[Source: MacRumors]


Google updates Maps and Earth with more high-res and 45-degree images, encourages wanderlust

Google has expanded its high-res Maps and Earth offerings to cover a whopping 164 cities and 108 countries / regions, while its brand new 45-degree imagery is now available for 60 cities (40 in the US and 20 abroad) -- the list is long, so check out the source to discover all the locations. The photos are pretty stunning; highlights include a live look at the Space Needle's orange paint job for its 50th anniversary, an overhead look at Austrian bridges and an angled view of the Thun Castle in Switzerland. Now, excuse us as we stare longingly at these gorgeous vistas -- it is Friday, right?

[Source: Engadget]

WSJ: Google putting final touches on Google Maps for iOS, distributed to a small number of outside testers

After Apple moved to its own mapping solution on iOS, the rumors of Google bringing a standalone Maps app to the platform have intensified. The Wall Street Journal reported that the highly anticipated Google Maps for iOS may be here soon, with word that the app has entered its final testing stages and will include turn-by-turn navigation.

The WSJ wasn’t able to give specific time frame for the app’s launch, but the report added that the app has been distributed to a few members outside the bounds of Mountain View for testing before it is submitted to the iTunes App Store review team. The launch sounds like sooner than later, as several publications in the recent months have pegged the launch before the end of the year. The question is: will Apple accept it?

[Source: 9to5Mac]

Google Maps adds natural terrain by default outside of satellite views, reminds us the world isn't flat

Everyone knows that Google prides itself on mapping accuracy. If you hadn't checked beyond the base maps in the past few years, though, you'd have thought the terrain was charted in the "here be dragons" era -- it's been as flat as a board. Take a second look today. Google has overhauled Google Maps worldwide to show hills, deserts and lush zones by default, as well as label the geographical features that hadn't previously been identifiable in a sea of white. The map overhaul isn't so nuanced enough as to remind us how steep the hills can be in San Francisco, but it will remind us that Gobi refers to more than just a chipset.

[Source: Engadget]

Put Google Maps back on your iPhone with Maps+

If you're one of the many who are underwhelmed with Apple's Maps and wish you could get Google Maps back on your iPhone, I highly recommend downloading Maps+. Besides using the Google Maps API, Maps+ offers several features now missing in Apple's new Maps app. The app also adds plenty of features that were never in Google Maps on the iPhone, like bicycling directions, location-based alarms, current location coordinates and altitude and more.

There are pros and cons to consider with Maps+. For one, point-of-interest search results in Maps+ aren't as good as the old Google Maps app, but often better than Apple's Maps. Also, Maps+ lacks public transport directions and Street View. Then again, the app is free, and if you're missing Google Maps on your iPhone, this is the best way to get them back.

[Source: TUAW - Click here to read the full story]

Google Maps or Apple Maps

Which one is better, Google Maps or Apple Maps? This is an important question for people looking to upgrade to a smartphone. Both the Android and iPhone offer GPS software, but each type offers its own strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Apple Maps
Apple has a history of winning over buyers with their products, creating a loyal pool of customers who camp on sidewalks and wait in hours-long queues for each new item that the company releases. Apple devices are nice, no question about that. However, Apple may have dropped the ball with Apple Maps.

The newest version of Apple Maps that comes with the iPhone 5 has been identified by users as having numerous flaws with both the interface and the information it offers. The program has identified points of interest in the wrong locations, has labeled walkways and bike paths as driving routes, and has given outright false directions. It also only provides directions in text, but does not provide verbal directions, which is difficult for people who use Apple Maps while they are driving. Finally, it provides no information about public transport.

The problems were so widespread that Apple CEO issued a public apology and promised to fix the bugs, but also suggested that users download apps from competitors, including HopStop, Map Quest, and Google Maps.

Google Maps
Since the CEO of Apple is recommending Google Maps, what’s so great about it?

Basically, it excels wherever Apple falls short. Google Maps provides audio directions and gives the correct labels for landmarks and street addresses. It also allows users to get the most current information about public transport as well as the best routes for bikes.

Locations stored within the program tend to be more accurate because Google allows feedback from users and then makes the appropriate adjustments, thereby securing the most current data. Google Maps has been around longer than Apple Maps and therefore has had more time to work out the kinks. Many of the features in Google Maps were available before the release of the iPhone 5, such as routing for urban public transport, which has been available since 2011.

Therefore it is clear that the technology has been available for a long time from Google, but Apple has failed to keep up. Though the new iPhone might look snazzy, you can get a better quality product from Android with a smaller price tag.

Apple has declared itself committed to fixing its navigation app, but until then, you’d be better off to sell iphone and get an Android with Google Maps, or if you have decided to keep your iPhone, download Google Maps from the App Store.

[sponsored article]

Street View comes to Google Maps web app on iOS, just like they said it would

While the hubbub surrounding Apple Maps on iOS 6 has been somewhat sedated, some people who made the move to Google Maps' web app had been further encouraged by word that it'd be getting Street View imagery soon. And what do you know, barely seven days into the estimated "in two weeks" and here it is. Search for a location (no long press yet), and you'll spy the familiar icon bottom right. This appears in both Chrome and Safari. While perhaps still not quite as slick as the good old app of yore, a definite panacea for all those iOS toutin' virtual tourists.

[Source: Engadget]