App Roundup: Google updates Maps, YouTube, Inbox, Play Music, more

Google Inc. - Android Apps on Google Play 2015-03-19 09-29-00

Google tends to push several updates to its apps in the middle of the week, and this week has been a particularly eventful one. Updates have landed over the last 24 hours for several apps in Google’s Android inventory, including Inbox, Google Docs (Sheets and Slides, too), YouTube, Quickoffice, Google Maps, and Google Play Music.

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Google Maps for Android updated to version 9.4 w/ support for Local Guides

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Google today has started rolling out an update to its Maps app on Android that bumps it to version 9.4. Most notably, the update adds integration with Google’s new Local Guides service, which it originally introduced back in January. Previously called City Experts, Local Guides is the company’s efforts to get users to review local businesses and share them with others.

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Google iOS app updated w/ Material Design, Street View integration, more

Google is rolling out a completely redesigned version of its iPhone and iPad app with its Material Design look and feel right down to the app icon.

The latest version of the search app now presents a bottom navigation bar (which can slide out of view) that presents a persistent Google button for searching for new information. The navigation bar also offers a button for quickly accessing recent search pages, something that feels similar to multitasking between apps on Android.

Also notable as part of the redesign is the optimization searching for photos has received. In the latest version of Google’s iOS app, image results now take on a full-screen, mosaic look for presenting larger results. The update also packs in deep Google Maps integration for location searches including support for Google Street View right in the app for iPhone users. You can read the full change log below: Read more

Google mapped out an Arabian desert in Street View using camels

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No, that’s not where Apple Maps will take you when you ask for directions to Starbucks, but close! It’s the Liwa Desert in the United Arab Emirates, and Google Maps has captured the site in detail for exploring through Street View thanks in part to camels:

To bring this stunning desert to Street View, we fashioned the Trekker to rest on a camel, which gathered imagery as it walked. Using camels for the collection allowed us to collect authentic imagery and minimize our disruption of this fragile environment.

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Google acquires Jetpac city guide software, will discontinue service in September

Google has acquired Jetpac, a city guide application for iPhone, the app’s developers announced today (via The Next Web). The free app (and others by the Jetpac team) will be removed from the App Store in the coming days, and the service that powers it will be shut down on September 15th.

Google hasn’t said exactly what it plans to do with the company’s technology, which automatically scans users’ photos to detect local points of interest like coffee shops or “hipster hangouts.” The service featuerd data for over 6,000 cities, according to the App Store description.  It seems logical, however, that Google would attempt to integrate these features with Google Maps or a location-based Google Now feature.

You can grab the Jetpac app for free on the iTunes Store, though it won’t be very useful beyond its mid-September shutdown.

Google Maps update adds biking elevation info, new voice commands, more

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Google this afternoon updated its Maps app on Android to version 8.2 with a plethora of new features, enhancements, and changes. The biggest changes come to the biking routes that Maps offers. With this update, biking routes now show elevation, including the ability to compare the elevations for various routes. This, of course, means that you can now easily tell which bike routes will be the easiest on your legs. This feature is listed as beta for now, though.

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Google Maps now lets you measure and calculate the distance between multiple points

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Google recently updated its desktop version of Maps with a new feature that lets users measure the distance between two or more points on the map. To toggle this option, right-click on a starting point on the map and select “Measure distance,” and then choose a destination to see the distance between the two points.

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