Users of mobile devices running the iOS operating system will finally be getting Google Maps -- whether they’re online or not. A month after Google updated its Maps app for Android devices, the company this week is offering an update of the navigation feature for Apple's iOS.
The most attention-getting part of the 48 MB update, which is version 4.13.0, is likely to be its improved offline maps support. Google said the new update will offer comprehensive, accurate maps in 220 countries and territories, as well as transit directions and maps for more than 15,000 cities and towns. The update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.
With iOS Maps, a user can now select a portion of the map and save it locally onto an iPhone or iPad. When the user saves a section of Maps, it allows that individual to search for destinations even with a marginal Internet connection -- or none at all. Once a map has been stored offline for a month without being used again, it’s automatically deleted.
When the phone is connected, the app will automatically go back online and offer users full access to other Maps features such as live traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation. To this point, the app does not offer mass transit directions or directions for pedestrians or cyclists without an Internet connection.
How Busy Is That Place?
The update is Google’s bid to compete for iOS users with Apple Maps, which boasts more than 5 billion map-related requests on iPhones each week, according to Apple.
Google Maps for iOS also offers information about businesses, including hours of operation and customer ratings. The app’s traffic graphs offer visual illustrations of when businesses are likely to be at their busiest. Google gets that data from aggregated visits to businesses by Google users who have volunteered to share their location data.
The Maps app now offers detailed information on more than 100 million places, along with Street View and indoor imagery for restaurants, museums and other businesses, according to Google.
Comparison Gas Shopping
Another new feature of the new Google Maps for iOS is a display of gas prices when a user starts looking for stations. The gas prices will be available in both map view as well as search results.
The information is based on up-to-date pricing for all grades of gasoline. While other mobile apps have offered gas prices in the past, the Google Maps update offers users the extra advantage of helping them locate stations and compare gas prices at the same time. For now, that feature is only available in the United States and Canada. Google isn’t saying when or if the feature will be made available outside North America.
The latest edition of Maps, available at iTunes, requires iOS 7.0, or later. It’s compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.