Google Maps 5 adds excellent new features, such as vector maps, 3D buildings, panning, tilting, and rotating, if your handset can handle it. Not only must you be running Froyo for full support (no rotation without froyo), but there are also hardware limitations.
Straight from Google is the list of current handsets that support all the new features, including panning, zooming, tilting, and rotating gestures:
- Samsung Nexus S
- Samsung Galaxy S
- Motorola Droid
- Motorola Droid 2
- Motorola Droid X
- HTC Incredible
- HTC EVO 4G
- HTC G2
Partially supported devices that support panning, zooming, and tilting gestures only are:
- HTC Desire
- Sony Ericsson X10
- LG Ally
- HTC Nexus One
What does the ht-03a get for Christmas?
The above screen shot shows that it gets the ability to cache maps for offline usage and a new look for transit, which is a little disappointing. Don't get me wrong, offline maps is awesome, it's just that the other features seems so cool. I was really hoping for vector maps, but alas, I am am still downloading rasterized tiles.
I haven't had a chance to check out offline maps yet, but I did have a go with the new transit. It is indeed improved.
On the left is the results screen. I still don't like that it doesn't display what lines are being used. If you are in an area with a large number of available subways as well as JR, it really helps to immediately have an idea of the route. Here, we have to guess based on price. The first two results are using the Tokyo metro, while the third is probably using the metro then toei, or perhaps the other way around. It's even worse when you are at roughly equal walking distance from multiple stations.
On the right is what is displayed when clicking through. Before, this was the deal killer with google transit in maps because it took too long for the route to be displayed. Rather than clicking through to each one, I just used jorudan. Now, the screen on the right is displayed almost instantly, which is a tremendous improvement. (I don't think this is because of my phone's new found 15 MB of RAM, which will be most noticeable when returning to previously used apps, as opposed to displaying information for the first time.)
Google Maps has incorporated departure times in the the PC version for Tokyo subways for a while now, but I don't recall seeing it in the mobile version until now. (Admittedly, it could have been there all along and I just never noticed). Going back to the example of a station with a number of lines and multiple ways to get to the same place, Google Maps provides the fastest (only?) way to view schedules for all lines at once. Take Iidabashi for example.
Fragmentation of android, caused by both makers (hardware limitations) and carriers (OS limitation), is frustrating since the average person will probably never understand which handsets can do what and why their handset can't do what the other guy's can. But, even the stripped down version of Google Maps for android is really starting to improve.
Vector maps? We don't need no stinkin vector maps.