back to article Google updates Maps app for iOS, Android, adds Uber support

Google has issued a major update to its Maps app for iOS and Android, including integration with the Uber private taxi app and an improved local business search that spells bad news for Yelp. The Chocolate Factory has put a lot of work into using Maps offline. You've been able to save maps for offline use for a while, but it's …

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Stop

Offline functionality...

But did they include the obvious offline navigation functionality?

When abroad, I want to download navigation information and use it offline in the rental car with some leeway: The device should allow me to turn off the selected route (for a break, for a restaurant, for fun, or to avoid that new construction site), and it should remember some alternate routes in, let's say a 30 km strip around the main route, remember alternative major roads and highways in a larger area (let's say a 100 km strip around the chosen route) -- so I don't get an irreversible blank screen of death just when I need the navigation system most.

It's a no-brainer, but I guess the developers are too brainy for that.

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Re: Offline functionality...

I did notice something like this on Google Maps. While abroad, I got driving directions for a different town from the hotel WiFi, and later on the road, I did get a different route after taking a wrong turn. I'm not sure how much leeway it had, though. It's not something I would be keen on experimenting with.

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Gimp

Re: Offline functionality...

Only going to happen when all of Google's employees have their 24hr wi-fi and 4G service taken away from them for a week and realise that being online is not a permanent state of being.

Google = Borg?

(closest icon I could see)

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JDX
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Re: Offline functionality...

This kind of functionality comes for free in Lumia phones - full GPS satnav with no data connection required. And I know you can get the same on iOS apps so presumably the big-name apps are on Android too.

You might have to pay £2 but unless you're totally cheap or ideologically opposed to paying for software...

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Re: Offline functionality...

"This kind of functionality comes for free in Lumia phones "

And Android. Navfree (previously known as Navmii) is free, uses locally stored maps, and has better quality voice than Google Maps' horrible synthesized quacking. The overhead map view isn't as polished as Google Maps, but there's little to choose when actually driving, and I prefer the 3D view of Navfree over Google Maps. Navfree also has a speed limit data and speed limit reminder. In terms of map accuracy I've not seen much difference between the two (ie the odd small error in both). Routing in Google Maps is a touch better, but not enough to make me tolerate the "on-line plus caching" inconveniences.

For Android users looking for an alternative to Google, it's free so what have you got to lose by trying it for a month? I'm not naieve enough to believe that my location data won't be sold on somehow or other, but the app isn't obviously intrusive. And because Maps is a default permanently installed app for Android, but won't by default fill your storage up with map data, you can have both, and use whichever fits the circumstances of the day.

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Bronze badge

Re: Offline functionality...

I'm kind of curious, did you get past the second paragraph of the article?

You know, the one that starts with the line: "The Chocolate Factory has put a lot of work into using Maps offline"

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Thumb Up

Re: Offline functionality...

I use NavMan...seem less insistent on spending an hour to go back where I came from if I choose to take a divert but can't stop to re-enter the information. I also prefer the less cluttered interface.

It does have it's quirks, but less than Googles

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Re: Offline functionality...@fandom

"I'm kind of curious, did you get past the second paragraph of the article?"

Not sure if that's aimed at me, but I'll respond. Yes, I did.

The point is that Google's idea of offline use is route or map caching rather than permanent local storage. So the Google solution is great if you just need a few hundred yard diversion in town, or a couple of miles out of town, but its no good at all when your location hasn't been cached and you're in an area of no coverage, or on a poor data network. Of for that matter, if you're on a restrictive contract or PAYG tariff that means downloading mobile data is something you want to actively avoid.

To an extent, the Maps story suggests Google is quickly becoming the new Microsoft - dominant in a couple of areas, but then failing to listen to customers, with "Our way or no way" offers.

If the very modest improvements described represent "a lot of work", then I can only conclude that Google's staff are exceptionally unproductive, because all of this looks to me like a lukewarm makeover to the existing and inadequate caching solution. But having said that, there are free alternatives that I use when Google is too slothful to do what I want, and my gripe is largely about the unrecognised promise of Google Maps - it could be a world beating app. but by tying it so tightly to high speed mobile data connections, Google choose to cripple it.

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Re: Offline functionality...

I'm kind of curious, did you read the first line of his post?

The app has *multiple* functions, not all of them are available offline.

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Re: Offline functionality...

Well observed Shultz but Google isn't a software company. Their main function is to farm your life, and providing great offline functionality would undermine that. To survive they need you online, all the time, and full gouging rights. Not trying to have a go at Google, that's just how it is.

Personally I haven't used Google maps app since the permissions went through the roof. I use the Google maps website instead, slightly less convenient but no intrusive activity.

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Google is working from Microsoft's playbook

They aren't doing illegal stuff to protect their bread and butter search like Microsoft did with Windows, but they've got the embrace and extend thing down pretty well.

I can't believe I'm saying it, but good thing Facebook is doing so well. If Google+ wasn't a complete flop, and they had been able to take over social networking as well they'd pretty much control 95% of the time people spend on the Internet that doesn't involve Netflix (and would probably be looking to roll over them next)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google is working from Microsoft's playbook

The various ISP's in the US are going to screw up the business model of companies such as Netflix, Amazon, spotify, and even Google.

The likes of Comcast will demand that these companies pay them 'tolls' otherwise they will find all their connections throttled (i.e. strangled) to the point that they become unusable. for them (the ISP's) a return to Dialup speeds is the name of the game. you want higher, you pay lots more.

They will soon start squeezing the customer as well. Sure you might pay for a 20Mbit link but unless you pay extra you won't be able to stream anything from Spotify, Netflix or Amazon. I wouldn't put it past them to do the same to Facebook,YouTube as well.

The US is a place where the basic cost might seem cheap but soon all the 'extras' make it expensive.

Don't even get me started about the cost of flights. A flight from Denver to Wichita (550 miles each way) is $490 + taxes round trip if you fly non-stop. Not far off the cost of flying to the US from London.

Mobile networks charge silly prices to allow tethering.

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JDX
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Re: Google is working from Microsoft's playbook

Netflix is reasonably small-fry but you really don't want to tangle with companies like Amazon & Google - even aside from their massive clout what's the bet the telecomms companies rely on services like EC2?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google is working from Microsoft's playbook

I don't think Google+ is a complete flop, there is data from October 2013 to suggest that G+ is the 2nd most active social media network, FB being the first. The reported figures also try to make a distinction between the active stream users rather than just counting YouTube comments and such like. This data would suggest that Twitter is third in the social media race.

I have seen better engagement metrics on G+ than Facebook as well, but I couldn't supply you with any other metrics/demographics to back that up at the moment.

http://marketingland.com/google-hits-300-million-active-monthly-in-stream-users-540-million-across-google-63354

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google is working from Microsoft's playbook

Most active or just a case of being forced into signing in to use Youtube comments etc?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google is working from Microsoft's playbook

As mentioned, the figures referenced try to make a distinction between the active stream users (activity/wall/posts etc) and people that are forced to use the Google ID for sign-in (e.g YouTube, Flickr, Google Play, etc)

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Big Brother

Re: Google is working from Microsoft's playbook

Now that you've said that, I have noticed a HUGE increase in people using Google+'s built-in share feature when commenting on youtube. So many more descriptive comments such as "watch this bear playing with this wolf!" than before, obviously for the purpose of the video then automatically being posted to their G+ feed.

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Google's small business data sources need work

Wherever Google is getting their info about small businesses and local shops, it tends to be woefully mangled when the business name is based on a person's name. So the registered company name might be "Joe Bloggs Motors Ltd", and Google will list it as "Bloggs Joe Motors". Which is just ugly.

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This is the update that needs all the invasive permissions?

For me it wants access to my contacts and control over when it can turn wi-fi on & off. Not gonna happen.

However, I would give that up if those bastards would give me a zoom control again, so I don't have to use that wobbly two hand pinch crap.

Why can't Apple sue them over the pinch-to-zoom stuff and accomplish something good by forcing Google to remove it?

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Why does it keep trying to access my Contacts?

Not sure why, but every time I ask for directions it wants access to all my Contacts. Hmmm.

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Poor Battery Life

I used it today and whilst it has some great new functionality, it seems to kill the battery, on my daily commute (1.5 hours) the battery life fell 25-30% oh and that was plugged in and "charging" with 1.5A.

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bep

Ummm...

"You've been able to save maps for offline use for a while, but it's never been the easiest function to use. The upgrade adds a saved maps icon on the screen, and maps can now be saved under specific names to make finding them easier and can be accessed on multiple devices."

Am I missing something here? How do you use maps you've cached on one device on 'multiple devices.'?

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