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Google Maps

Google updates Android Maps, hints at alternative for iOS users

When Apple’s iOS 6 launched yesterday, it marked the official death of Google maps as a native feature on Apple devices.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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Like a jilted lover bringing out her skimpiest little black number, the Mountain View-based giant rolled out a massive update to the Android version of the service at the same time.

Included in the update is single-handed zoom, search history and cross-device syncing. The last of these is pretty cool. It means that if you’re logged into Google and search for directions on your computer, you’ll be able to get those directions again as soon as you start typing in a destination name. In fact, by selecting the My Places you should be able to see all of your previous searches.

“Typing on a phone is slow, and our goal is to reduce the amount of typing as much as possible,” said Brian McClendon, vice president of engineering for maps at Google.

You have a couple of options when it comes to single finger zooming meanwhile. You can either hit the plus and minus buttons, or you can double tap to zoom. Pinch to zoom is still available if that floats your boat.

Speaking to Search Engine Land, a Google spokesperson underlined the company’s belief in its map offering:

We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system.

Anyone disappointed with Apple’s cartographic offering should take particular notice of that last sentence.

McClendon was evasive on the subject of whether or not the company would build a standalone app for the Apple App store as it did for YouTube. “We want to make it available to everyone,” he said.

Denying Google the chance to do so would be a particularly malicious move on Apple’s part. In the mean time Apple users can access Maps using their browsers if they’re desperate.