Google Maps 2.1 is the latest version of a simple, free, easy to use navigation program.
New features include a simpler menu layout, faster zooming in and out, and Google Maps reads your landmarks and favorites from Nokia Maps and Route 66.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Google app if it didn't have a bunch of shortcomings.
There's no way to preload maps to your phone to reduce data charges. This makes Google Maps useless during international travel in WiFi-less areas where data traffic costs you a fortune. You can fix this by using Mobile GMaps instead of Google Maps, but that's a rather tedious procedure.
The interface could be better as well. You can't remove the annoying yellow help banner that occupies valuable screen space near the bottom of the maps. You can only select map view or hybrid satellite/map view. You can't get a satellite view without map overlay. Buildings and open spaces have the same grey color, so finding squares is unnecessarily difficult. You can't customise the shortcut keys either. And instead of voice navigation you get a written text with a series of instructions, and a line on the map with diamonds to mark junctions.
Google Maps also has an option to determine your location without GPS, based on the signals that your phone picks up from the cell phone towers. Unfortunately, this feature is so imprecise that's it's just about useless, if it works at all.
So why should you install this program? For two reasons:
1) It's hybrid map/satellite view beats the competition,
2) No other map app can match the search function of Google Maps.
• Google Maps official site (on the fly installer): www.google.com/gmm
Wednesday, 4 June 2008