Google Maps continues to improve their mobile version, and this week they announced some nice new features. Alas, just like last time, these aren’t immediately available for the iPhone. You may remember the iPhone 1.1.3 update in January 2008. Google Maps got a few new features, including the cell tower triangulation location approximation, a feature that had already been available for other Google Maps users since November of 2007.
In this new version of Google Maps, Google brings street view to the phone as well as business reviews and walking directions. All of these are very nice updates to an already great application, but I believe Street View is going to get the most attention, and it’s the feature iPhone users will be pining for. Personally, walking directions would be super-helpful. It’s happened a number of times where I’m traveling to an unfamiliar city, want to walk somewhere, but get weird directions from Google Maps because of a bunch of one-way streets.
If you want to play with the new features, then try out their java-based simulator. It will make you glad you have such a nice interface on your iPhone. It’s also worth mentioning that the iPhone at least has a couple of features that the non-iPhone version doesn’t have: With the iPhone you can drop a pin anywhere on the map and use it as a reference point. Also, of course, the iPhone has the two-finger pinch-zoom controls, which while being very cool, are also very helpful.
I suspect that these new features may make their way into an iPhone update sometime soon.
This begs the question: Now that we have the App store, why won’t Apple push through application-specific updates through that instead of having us wait for them to batch a bunch of operating system updates together into a firmware update?