If Siri is the differentiating feature of iPhones, then Google Maps (and Navigation) are that for Android. It’s the most popular Android app as well as unquestionably the most useful.
Today Google announced a new release of Maps for Android (6.5) featuring a richer UI and other improvements. Most of those have to be experienced, however, on Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwhich”) phones (e.g., Galaxy Nexus).
Google has created a new homescreen that provides quicker access to locations and previous destinations. The company has also made the map crisper, with more contrast and less clutter.
Here’s what Google said about the new look:
If your device has a high pixel density screen, such as those on Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II, Droid Razr and others, you’ll now get higher resolution map tiles that take better advantage of the pixels-per-inch on your screen. The result is a crisper, less cluttered map that is easier to read . . .
The road network is easier to see, less obstructed by labels, and has more color contrast. At more zoomed-in levels, you’ll notice a more controlled amount of maps labels to avoid cluttering the map and blocking out street names. The new style also helps maps react faster to panning, zooming and twisting.
Users are also able to set default or preferred transit and routing choices. Google Navigation in particular is the thing that I miss most about switching from Android to the iPhone as my primary device.