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Google Maps 5.0 for Android now available with 3D buildings, offline support

google-maps-android-updateThe latest version of Google Maps for Android is now available, and as we’ve reported previously, it brings some amazing features with it like 3D building support, dynamic map drawing and access to maps offline.

Google Maps 5.0 relies on vector graphics, instead of flat 2D maps, to load its map data. Vector files are smaller and more flexible than typical graphics files, both of which make a huge difference on mobile devices. Thanks to vector graphics, the app will now load your maps more quickly than ever before and draw them dynamically. It also supports 3D building models in over 100 cities. A new compass mode automatically orients the map to help you maintain direction.

As we’ve previously mentioned, the app will also be able to cache map data that you use most often to let you view maps offline. It will download map locations overnight when you’re connected with WiFi. Google says this feature will make up for over 90 percent of the times the Maps app fails when there’s a bad connection. The app’s Navigation feature will be able to take advantage of the offline maps and re-route you even if you’re without service.

Google says the new features are just the first step to improving the overall performance of its Maps app. The company figures that viewing maps with the new app now takes 70 percent less mobile data. It remains to be seen if we’ll see similar new features on other platforms. Apple, which is in charge of the Google Maps app on the iPhone, hasn’t been very good about supporting Google’s updates in the past.

Google Maps 5.0 is available on all Android devices running version 1.6 and above, but 3D and offline support is only available to those running Android 2.0 or higher.

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