An Even Better Way to Find Places Nearby

Monday, July 26, 2010 | 10:35 AM

With six updates in six months, Google Maps for Android has been getting plenty of new features, both big and small. A continued focus with each update has been on giving you better ways to find places nearby. In the most recent updates, Maps has gotten features like swiping between search results and info like photos, reviews, and more helpful content on the result pages. With today’s launch of Google Maps for mobile 4.4, we’re introducing an even easier way to find places around you: a dedicated Places icon that lets you quickly look up nearby places and pick a place to go using updated Place Pages, just like on your computer.

On Android-powered phones with Google Maps 4.4, you’ll find the new Places icon in the app launcher with the rest of your apps. Press and drag it right onto your home screen to use it when you’re looking for a restaurant, shoe store, movie theater or any other type of local business. You'll get a detailed list of all the nearest places and can choose one to learn more about it on its Place Page.



Search for several convenient types of places with the default categories or add your own for your most frequent searches. You can also use the search bar at the top to type or speak any query. I tend to use the “coffee” search a lot, but I’ve also looked for “gas stations” on the road, “ice cream shops” in my neighborhood, and even specific places like “Chelsea Market” on a recent trip to New York.

Of course, you’ll often want to learn more before deciding where to go. With updated Place Pages, you should be able to find all you need to know about a place, whether you’re wandering into a new restaurant or deciding from your couch. In addition to photos and reviews, Place Pages now have a bunch of new details, such as prices, parking and menu links to inform your quest for the perfect steak. You'll also notice that the search results list now highlights business opening hours in addition to compass direction and distance -- consider it your late night caffeine radar.



Google Maps for mobile 4.4 is available now for Android 1.6 and above. Just search for Google Maps in Market or tap here from your phone. The Place Page and search result updates are coming soon for BlackBerry users so keep an eye out for an update at m.google.com/maps (from your BlackBerry Browser) or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Visit our Help Center to learn more, ask questions in our Help Forum, or give us suggestions and vote on other people’s on the Mobile Product Ideas page.

Update: Google Maps for BlackBerry version 4.4 is now available with the new search results view and Place Page details. From your BlackBerry's Browser, go to m.google.com/maps to install it now.

Faster dialing with Google Voice on Android and Blackberry devices

Thursday, July 22, 2010 | 10:25 AM

(Cross-posted with the Google Voice Blog)

At Google we are obsessed with speed. Our mantra is faster = better. This is true for our Google Voice mobile apps as well. When you want to make a call, your phone should connect you as quickly as possible, whether you’re calling via Google Voice or not.

Today we are launching an enhancement to the Google Voice mobile app on Android and Blackberry phones, which makes placing calls much faster. We call this feature “direct access numbers.” Here’s how it works:

Until today, the Google Voice app had to make a request to the Google Voice server every time you wanted to make a call to send us the phone number you wanted to dial. Then the call would be connected via a Google Voice access number. With direct access numbers, we assign a unique phone number to every person you call. This means that we no longer need to use your data network to access the server each time you make a call, so calls will be placed much faster.

The updated Android app is available from Android Market starting today. For Blackberry users, you can download the app by visiting http://m.google.com/voice from your mobile device. You will need a valid Google Voice account to use the app, and at this time, Google Voice is available in the US only.

Follow Team HTC-Columbia on Google Maps and Then Let Others Follow You

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 | 6:00 AM

In case you missed it, check out the Official Google Blog’s post about how Team HTC-Columbia is using Android-powered phones and a special version of the My Tracks app with SRM to share real-time data from the Tour de France. Head over to google.com/mytrackstour to follow along during the race and see riders’ real-time location along with their power, heart rate, cadence and speed right on Google Maps.



Want to record some of this data or share your location on Google Maps during your next big ride? Track your rides, runs, or walks in detail with the My Tracks app on your Android-powered phone. From many popular smartphones, you can share your location with friends using Google Latitude and then publish your location to the web with the Google Public Location Badge.

YouTube Mobile Gets a Kick Start

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 | 2:35 PM

(Cross-posted with the YouTube Blog)

It’s well known that the mobile internet is huge and growing fast; what’s surprising is exactly how fast. According to a recent report, within 5 years more users will connect to the internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs. YouTube consumption on mobile devices has also grown considerably -- playbacks were up 160% in 2009 over the previous year. And we’re excited to announce that YouTube Mobile now receives more than 100 million video playbacks a day. This is roughly the number of daily playbacks that YouTube.com was streaming when we joined forces with Google in 2006.

We launched YouTube on mobile devices in 2007 with about 1,000 videos available on the mobile site (m.youtube.com). While this suddenly opened up the possibility to access videos on the go, our site, mobile browsers and the hardware had limitations that prevented the mobile experience from keeping up with YouTube on the desktop. Today, more than ever, we know that you want to be able to find and access your favorite videos wherever you are. That’s why we’ve been working hard to roll out an updated version of the mobile site.

Here's what's new about the new mobile site:

  • It's really fast.
  • The new user interface incorporates larger, more touch friendly elements, making it easier to access videos on the go.
  • It incorporates the features and functionality you’ve come to expect from the .com site, like search query suggestions, the options to create playlists,the ability to designate “favorite,” “like,” or “unlike” videos directly from your device.
  • As we make improvements to Youtube.com, you’ll see them quickly follow on our mobile site, unlike native apps which are not updated as frequently.
As the world continues to go mobile, we think this is a great improvement for users who want a more consistent YouTube across many devices, no matter where they are. We're launching in English only today, but will be rolling it out in other languages in the coming months. You can access the latest YouTube mobile site from your iPhone or Android browser. To learn more, visit m.youtube.com to check out the latest improvements and take a minute to watch this demo video: