Google has just released version 3.2 of their fantastic Maps application for S60 and Windows Mobile handsets. With it comes the new ability to see layers of information, superimposed on the map you’re currently viewing. Say you’re in a new city. Just walk outside your hotel room, get a location fix, turn on the Wikipedia layer, and then start exploring all the interesting sites near your present location. Want to be a little adventurous? Find the nearest metro or tram thanks to the public transportation layer, hop on, get off at a random stop and start bumping into random landmarks. The feature I’m most excited about is the ability to view personalized maps. Google has always let you save points of interests (POI) with their mapping service, but it was a bit useless since that data just sat on their servers and could only be accessed on a full PC browser or Android handset. Now I can start finding restaurants, movie theaters and friend’s flats from the comfort of my own home, bookmark them, and navigate to them using Google Maps for Mobile on my Nokia E71. Search has also been improved. Instead of getting a list of 10 results, red dots now appear on the map, letting you simply hover over the nearest place that matches your query. Don’t know what to look for? In the USA and China, you will now be able to browse through popular categories for the particular area you’re in. More competition for Nokia Maps, more competition for operator’s offering a navigation package, and more features for free thanks to this cut throat industry. I wonder how the folks at Layar are going to respond?
To download the new version, just open up the browser on your device and type in google.com/gmm