Google has updated its Maps app for Android devices, and the app's new Explore feature takes Google firmly in the direction of recommending hotels, restaurants and activities for travelers on the go.
You should be on the alert if you're working at a company that is perfecting local intent, day-of-travel advice, same-day hotel booking, and mobile recommendation services, such as at Yelp, GateGuru, TripAdvisor, HotelTonight, and Foursquare.
As the company's promotional video shows (below), by clicking Explore, you're offered options for nearby places to visit under categories like "Eat", "Drink", "Shop", "Play," "Sleep."
Some other highlights:
Offline maps are back, after a brief departure
- A new Zagat feature provides "quick read on how your friends and others rate places like restaurants, bars and cafes", in the company's words
- Merchants like hotel owners can promote discounted offers within the context of the suggestions in the app
- In an update last May, check-ins have been added under "Location" and in the context of sharing with specific people to help arrange for spontaneous meet ups.
- The app includes the new feature from late last year of calling out, or spotlighting, Zagat and Google+ reviews by "someone similar to you" based on what you've opted to let Google know about you
- Users of tablets will see information presented differently than those using smartphones
The update rolled out yesterday, but many people complained that the app had removed the "Make this map area available offline" option. Today, the company says it will be restoring that option today.
Google has removed from Google Maps for Android its service called Latitude, which let you share your location on a map with selected other users of the same service . In related news, Google is shuttering Latitude on August 9, retiring the API and pulling the app from the app store. The company plans to integrate Latitude's features into its Google+ mobile app.
The Google Maps for Android update is relevant because of the gaining market share of Android overall. As Tnooz reported yesterday, mobile browsing is now 32% of all web traffic, a five percentage point rise on January, and mobile browsing will hit 40% by December.
Android has shown the highest growth.