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Google just released a brand new update to Google Maps, which is currently rolling out in the Google Play store and will soon be available in the Apple App Store.  The update includes several new features and improvements including an explore feature, enhanced navigation, design for tablets, Zagat ratings, and offers.

google-maps-1The Explore feature is an efficient way to browse and discover new places without having to type.  Tapping the search box will provide cards (think Google Now) showing places to eat, sleep, drink, and shop.

The enhanced navigation, improves the user’s ability to navigate around traffic. Reports of problems on the road are now available allowing the user to tap to see the incident details. Google Maps will also offer a better route to the user if one becomes available and then reroute the user to get to that destination.

In terms of tablet design, the app is now designed for both Android tablets as well as the iPad, making it a more fluid user experience.

When it comes to ratings and offers, the new 5.0 star rating system gives the user a chance to look at how his or her friends reviewed places like restaurants, cafes, and bars. Expert Zagat opinions are also integrated into the list so the user can find the best places.  Additionally, now Google Maps can find and display valuable offers from brands like Toys “R” Us, Michael’s, and Macy’s.

With this update, Google will be retiring Google Latitude on August 9, 2013. However, Google has added location sharing and check-ins to Google+ on Android and that same feature will soon make its way to iOS.  One last thing of note, the offline maps feature is no longer in the app either.  Instead, now users who wish to access maps offline can do so by simply entering “OK Maps” into the search box when viewing the area a user wants later.

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