Google Maps for Mobile is, without a doubt, the leading geo-location and mapping service on smartphones today (sorry Windows Phone 7 and your Bing Maps). Today at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference, Mr. Android himself, Andy Rubin, showed the world that the next version of Google Maps for Mobile would come packing some long-awaited features – offline mode and vector-based maps. Rubin took to the conference stage with an unannounced Motorola Android (Honeycomb) tablet to show off the next-generation Google Maps for Mobile 5, and in doing so, proved that Google is still the leader in mobile mapping services.
For years, Google has continued to roll out new features for Google Maps. We got Places, Latitude integration, Buzz integration, sponsored links, business info, public transit schedules, walking navigation, and etc., etc. But, as Google Maps continued to take on more features, the maps essentially stayed the same. That’s all going to change with verion 5.0. The not-yet-released Google Maps for Mobile 5 will offer users the ability to check out oft-searched locations in offline mode (no wireless connection required), complete with offline Navigation (including navigation rerouting, should you stray from your route). Users can also look forward to some enhanced eye-candy, thanks to the new vector-based map rendering technology that’s baked into Google Maps for Mobile 5. What does that mean? Basically, maps will scale seamlessly at any zoom level, and will include 3D renders of buildings in over 100 cities. To top it all off, you will soon be able to pan, zoom, tilt, and rotate maps with all the multitouch goodness your two little fingers can muster.
We’re not sure how much map data will be stored offline for your perusal, but Google says that they’ll only be caching data for locations that you use most often. The cached map data will include the vector information that is required to draw and scale all those 3D buildings, and allow you to rotate and tilt the map as you see fit.
So, when can you expect the Google Maps for Mobile 5 update? If Rubin is to be believed, and seeing as how he’s the godfather of Android, we have no reason to not believe him — we should be getting hit with the update in the “coming days.” Good timing for the Nexus S launch, eh? More importantly, those of you with a Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Nexus S, Motorola Droid, Motorola Droid 2, Motorola Droid X, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC EVO 4G, or T-Mobile G2 in your pockets can expect to receive the update in due time.
Enjoy the screenshots below as you wait for the update to go live.