Google I/O 2013: Next generation of Google Maps for mobile unveiled

At Google I/O 2013, Google unveiled an impressive new update to the Google Maps app for Android and iOS. It brings a ton of new features that truly blows the competition away.

To start, it has a brand new user interface that, according to Google, is easier to use and faster. It’s nothing dramatic either — you still search and swipe through results very quickly. Tap a specific result and that’s where you’ll notice some more changes. Maps now has built-in Zagat integration, which will put Zagat scores and editorial reviews for specific restaurants on display. Additionally, you’ll be able to view Google Offers right within the app. The demo used half-off Starbucks Refreshers as an example.

Another big addition is the new Explore feature. It reminds me quite a bit of Foursquare’s Explore functionality, but you can be the judge as to whether it’s better. It comes in handy when you’re not looking for a particular venue. Instead, you just want to browse what the area has to offer. You tap Explore in the search field to bring up main categories like Eat, Drink, Shop, Play, and Sleep. From there you can find top-rated places for each category and of course get more information once you tap them. This is going to be of great use to frequent travelers.

Lastly, Google made some improvements to the core navigation functionality of Maps as well. When you’re driving along a route, you can get live traffic alerts as they occur. Building on top of that, if a faster route becomes available than the one you started taking, you’ll be notified and asked if you want to reroute using the new route.

The Google Maps update comes for Android and iOS this summer. There’s also some great things happening on the desktop side of Maps, which you can check out on Google’s preview page.

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