Sunday, December 19, 2010

Current Japanese Android handsets that fully support Google Maps 5

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
As you can see, the only phone available from a Japanese carrier that is fully supported is the Galaxy S, which is only available in theory since it's sold out/on order/coming in half a year.

Partially supported devices that support panning, zooming, and tilting gestures only are:
  • HTC Desire
  • Sony Ericsson X10
  • LG Ally
  • HTC Nexus One
Both the HTC N1 and Desire have been updated to Froyo, so their lack of support for rotation is a hardware limitation. The SE x10 is currently running Eclair. I don't know if the hardware supports rotation. I know nothing about LG android handsets.

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.


  1. HTC Desire HD (Softbank) gets also full support. Yay!

  2. Gotta link? thanks.

  3. Dell Streak also has support whenever the hell it actually gets released. (I know because I'm doing it right now!)

  4. Are you doing all the gestures listed for the fully supported handsets?

  5. Yep, all the features are there. Like I said I haven't tried it on the official froyo rom, but if it doesn't work there, there's a modification that can be made to the system files since the hardware supports it.

  6. OK cool. It seems that the google info I linked to is certainly not complete

  7. For the navigation, Hyperdia finally released their android app and for me it's fantastic. Tried to use jorudan back in the days but the kanji was just too much... and the hyperdia app has nice buttons for the first/last trains :) The last train is especially useful :)

  8. i'm picking up my galaxy s tomorrow. i walked into yodobashi camera yokohama and was told i could walk out with one today, but turns out they were on reserve. 1 day wait time isn't bad though. if only the phone/plans weren't so freaking expensive.

  9. hyperdia is AWESOME. the new android app is a must-have.

  10. I'm going to check it out when I get the chance and try and put together a post with a table showing the features of each one, pros cons etc.

    The hyperdia app is a "lite" app that will self destruct (or stop working at least) sometime in February.

    Maybe they just want to have this as a beta version and then drop an updated app in a few months. Or maybe they want this as a beta version and then they are going to release a paid or add supported app. Whenever I see an expiration on a free app, it makes me think it is going to be released in a monetized form.

  11. Confirm Desire HD with cm-6.1.0-RC2 ROM rocking and rolling on Google Maps 5. Too bad you can't have terrain and 3D buildings simultaneously - that would be rad. I think I still prefer satellite view for navigation though.

    BTW, Had to announce. Got everything working. Canceled DoCoMo PakeHodai, bought BF-01B WiFi/Cellular pocket-hotspot. Bought Desire HD from Softbank, rooted, sim-unlocked it, and now working on DoCoMo. All my devices' data going through the pocket WiFi....whee!
    The screen is beautiful. And it's still small enough to slip into pants-pocket (unlike the Dell Streak - Yowch!) My only complaints are lack of physical buttons for Dial & Hangup/Power and signal quality seems to be poorer than the HTC-03a.

  12. Sorry for the stupid question but how do you update it from Desire HD?
    I looked at applications management and there is no option to force an update ?

  13. It's in the android market. Assuming you have a froyo ROM, you can set it to automatically update.