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Offline mapping, navigation improvements highlight Google Maps update

Dan Moren | May 7, 2014
Apple may be slowly and quietly improving its Maps software, but Google isn't exactly playing the part of a shrinking violet: The search giant's just launched version 3.0 of Google Maps, a significant update to its free mobile mapping app for both iOS and Android.

And just in case you don't feel like taking public transit or walking once you've plotted out those directions, you'll also now see an option to request an Uber, if you have the app installed on your phone. Just scroll down to the bottom of the route options.

There are a few smaller assorted updates included as well, many of which address erstwhile advantages of Apple's own Maps app, including integrated voice search (though in my tests, it tended to cut off the beginning of my queries unless I waited a moment), a scale marker in the bottom of the map that auto-adjusts as you zoom in or out, access to your iOS device's onboard contacts, and the ability to drop a pin anywhere on a map by tapping and holding.

When I first reviewed the Google Maps app back in late 2012, I gave it a solid rating because it largely blew out of the water Apple's own offering. In the past year and a half, Google's continued to update its app with new features like these, making one thing clear: The company's not waiting to see what Cupertino has up its sleeve for iOS 8; it's much more concerned with solidifying its lead in the mapping arena, as it does here.

 

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