Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Google Maps update finds your friends, screams in subway, blares in bus

The latest Google Maps update makes public transport even noisier. Version 5.9 moves the call and navigate buttons on map entries one level closer, but the new feature that really makes itself heard is the ringtone and voice notification option for public transport navigation.

A previous update added routing for trains, subways, trams and buses, and it came with notifications to let you know you've reached your destination or point of transfer. It would only notify you by vibration, but now it can shout "Get Out!" at you.

That's good for those who miss vibrating alerts because their phones are sitting in a bag, but I wonder if your fellow passengers will appreciate yet another source of noise.

On the bright side, the missing contacts bug of the previous version is fixed. All your friends are back now.

Unfortunately the bug that can make Google Maps freeze many phones (even after you exit the app!) is still there. If you're lucky you can get your phone running again by entering "manage applications," going to the maps app, and hitting "force stop." If you can't get there because your phone doesn't respond to anything you can pull the battery out to force a restart. The freezing phone issue appears to be related to the network location service that runs in the background, even if you don't use network location. I guess adding new features is sexier than fixing old bugs.

If your phone runs a version of Google Maps that works the way it should, always make a backup before you update (that's why you rooted your phone and installed an app like Titanium Backup). New versions may bring new bugs that bite your phone, so make sure you have a way to go back.

Google Maps (Android Market)

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