Crossing the 50 billion km mark & giving Google Maps for Android a fresh look

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | 11:04 AM

(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)

Every day, millions of people turn to Google Maps for Android for free, voice-guided GPS navigation to guide them to their destination. So far, Navigation on Google Maps for Android has provided 50 billion kilometers of turn-by-turn directions, the equivalent of 130,000 trips to the moon, 334 trips to the sun, 10 trips to Neptune or 0.005 light years! When getting to your destination matters most, Google Maps for Android will get you there:





A new look for Navigation on Android 4.0+ phones

In today’s release of Google Maps 6.5 for Android we’ve redesigned the Navigation home screen in Android 4.0+ to make it easier to enter a new destination or select from recent and favorite locations by swiping left or right.


Left: New Navigation home screen Right: Navigation in Google Maps for Android


Crisper, faster maps for high pixel density devices

If your device has a high pixel density screen, such as those on Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, Droid Razr and others, you’ll now get higher resolution map tiles that take better advantage of the pixels-per-inch on your screen. The result is a crisper, less cluttered map that is easier to read:


Left: Previous style Right:New style in Google Maps 6.5 for Android


Compare our new map on the right to the previous map on the left. The road network is easier to see, less obstructed by labels, and has more color contrast. At more zoomed-in levels, you’ll notice a more controlled amount of maps labels to avoid cluttering the map and blocking out street names. The new style also helps maps react faster to panning, zooming, and twisting.

You'll start seeing the new style as you navigate around new areas on the map; however, you can see these changes immediately by clearing your cache from the Maps settings.

Pick your preferred public transit mode and route option

Google Maps 6.5 for Android now lets you choose to prioritize a particular transit mode (such as the bus or subway) and route option (like taking the recommended route, one with fewer transfers or one with less walking). Whether you just need to get somewhere as fast as possible, or you want to avoid the risk of a missed connection or you prefer not to tire your legs, you can get the transit directions that best suit you. Transit directions and schedules are available for 475 cities around the world.




To start using Google Maps 6.5 for Android, download the update from Google Play. Learn more about how to use other great features of Google Maps for Android on the redesigned Google Maps YouTube channel that has 12 new videos available today.

Google Voice for Android, now with Ice Cream Sandwich voicemail integration

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | 11:34 AM

(Cross posted on the Google Voice Blog)

Since we launched Google Voice back in 2009, we’ve supported visual voicemail so you could open the Google Voice app, see all your voicemails with text transcripts, and play them on-demand. But sometimes when I get a missed call, I don’t want to jump between my call log and the Google Voice app to see who has called me and what message they left.

So, today, we’re updating our mobile app so you can view and listen to your voicemails on demand directly from the call log on your Android phone. Your voicemails will appear alongside your outgoing, incoming, and missed calls in your phone’s call log and you can just simply touch them to play them. You can slow down the playback of the message which is great for when someone is telling you their callback number, or you even speed playback up, so you can quickly listen to longer messages.




To turn this feature on, download the latest app from Google Play and check “Voicemail display” under settings. This new feature requires Android 4.0+.

Posted by Yong-Hoon Choi, Software Engineer

A completely redesigned Google Search App for Windows 7.5 phones

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 | 10:38 AM

(Cross posted on the Inside Search Blog)

Windows Phone owners can now get easy access to the Google Search App, available in the
Windows Phone Marketplace. Check out these features which help you get useful results fast:
  • Google Autocomplete: As you type in your search, our autocomplete feature offers search predictions that often match your intended search term making search entry easier and faster.

  • Voice Search: With our voice feature, you can avoid typing all together. Simply press the microphone and begin speaking your query.

  • My Location: With your permission, Google can use your device location to provide nearby results easily and accurately. For instance, a search for “coffee shops” quickly displays the nearest places you can go to for a cup of coffee.

The new Google Search app now has Voice Search (left) as well as Google Autocomplete (right)

You can download the app from the Windows Marketplace and try it for yourself. It’s available worldwide in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Introducing Google Play: All your entertainment, anywhere you go

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | 11:06 AM

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)

Entertainment is supposed to be fun. But in reality, getting everything to work can be the exact opposite—moving files between your computers, endless syncing across your devices, and wires…lots of wires. Today we’re eliminating all that hassle with Google Play, a digital entertainment destination where you can find, enjoy and share your favorite music, movies, books and apps on the web and on your Android phone or tablet. Google Play is entirely cloud-based so all your music, movies, books and apps are stored online, always available to you, and you never have to worry about losing them or moving them again.



With Google Play you can:

  • Store up to 20,000 songs for free and buy millions of new tracks
  • Download more than 450,000 Android apps and games
  • Browse the world’s largest selection of eBooks
  • Rent thousands of your favorite movies, including new releases and HD titles
Starting today, Android Market, Google Music and the Google eBookstore will become part of Google Play. On your Android phone or tablet, we’ll be upgrading the Android Market app to the Google Play Store app over the coming days. Your videos, books and music apps (in countries where they are available) will also be upgraded to Google Play Movies, Google Play Books and Google Play Music apps. The music, movies, books and apps you’ve purchased will continue to be available to you through Google Play—simply log in with your Google account like always.

To celebrate, we’ll be offering a different album, book, video rental and Android app at a special price each day for the next week in our “7 Days to Play” sale. In the U.S., today’s titles include the collection of top 40 hits Now That's What I Call Music 41, the popular game Where's My Water, the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and the movie Puncture for just 25 cents each. In addition, you'll find great collections of hip-hop, rock and country albums for $3.99 all week, detective novels from $2.99, some of our editorial team's favorite movies from 99 cents, and our favorite apps from 49 cents.

In the U.S., music, movies, books and Android apps are available in Google Play. In Canada and the U.K., we’ll offer movies, books and Android apps; in Australia, books and apps; and in Japan, movies and apps. Everywhere else, Google Play will be the new home for Android apps. Our long-term goal is to roll out as many different types of content as possible to people around the world, and we’ll keep adding new content to keep it fresh.

To learn more, head over to play.google.com/about or keep up with the latest on our Google+ page. If you’re headed to Austin later this week for South by Southwest, come to the Google Village to see Google Play in action. We can’t wait for you to try Google Play and experience a simpler way to manage your entertainment.

Introducing a new local search experience across your devices

Monday, March 5, 2012 | 12:31 PM

(Cross posted on the Inside Search Blog)

How often are you doing a Google search from your computer to find information about a place before going there? Now, next time you go to Google.com on your Android phone or iPhone, information about that place will be conveniently available under the new “Recent” icon. Calling, getting directions or seeing details about the places you just searched for is now only one tap away.

We provide this new convenience feature for users who have Web History enabled and are logged into Google when doing their search. Start by searching for a place on your PC or other devices, then login to Google.com’s mobile homepage and check the Recent icon. Information about previously searched places will be available under the Recent icon for about three days (time available extended from 24 hours on March 21).


The new “Recent” icon shows information about places you have recently searched for on any of your devices. Try swiping to the right to see more icons for other categories of places.

Next time you are heading to a place you have recently searched for, no need to worry if you can’t remember the address or phone number. Just go to Google.com on your smartphone and tap on the “Recent” icon. We hope you find this new feature useful!