One thing that I think is over looked in comparisons between Android and iOS is the frequency at which Google is releasing updates to some of the core Android apps. A good example is the Google Maps Android app, for which an update is now available after an update was just released last month. Today’s update adds new notifications to the transit features of Maps, adds transit navigation to the tablet version of Maps, and brings new beta (labs) features.
The transit navigation feature, which is currently in beta, is handy for those who live in cities like New York and use public transportation. When it first was released in early July it provided vibration and screen notifications when your stop is next, and this latest release adds audible ring tone and voice notifications.
Perhaps of more use to more Android users are the “labs” features of Google Maps. These features are trial items that the Google Maps team releases to see how well they are received by users. I think the two newest lab features, bubble buttons and label text enlarging are very useful.
Previously, when you searched for a location, you only saw the location name in the bubble that displays pointing to the location on the map. If you wanted to call or navigate to the location you had to tap the bubble to open the location’s place’s page, where you then tapped buttons to either place a call or start navigation. Now you see the call and navigation buttons along with the location name, which you can tap saving an extra step.
Those people who found the default font size used for street names on maps too small will appeciate the bigger text lab feature, which increases the font size of street names. The street names also appear to be in bold or use a thicker font that really makes them stand out.
You should receive a notification on your phone about the new update to Google Maps, but if not, you can find it in the Android Market.