updated 06:35 pm EDT, Wed May 25, 2011
Google Maps gets transit remake as mobile leads
Google marked a pair of milestones for its mobile mapping on Wednesday with both an app and the rise of mobile. Google Maps 5.5 for Android (Market) has received a newly overhauled section for mass transit stops designed to reduce the dependence on plotting a course for routes. A given stop will now show the upcoming departures with color-coded lines, all the lines regardless of the time, and nearby stations if the current one won't work.
Other tweaks bring options to check in directly from a place page as well as the ability to change the home and work locations for Latitude so it properly reflects habits. The app needs at least Android 1.6 to run.
The update came just as Google Maps on all mobile platforms crossed the 200 million mark and was about to become the company's most important platform. In an interview onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt, the company's location services head Marissa Mayer noted that 40 percent of all Google Maps use was on mobile devices. Phones, tablets and others should overtake the desktop as the most popular platforms for Maps sometime in June, she said.
Although Android is the home of most core Google Maps mobile updates, the core engine is used on several platforms. Apple's Maps app is self-developed but uses Google Maps as its data source, both for map data and for creating routes.
For the future, Mayer promised more of the streamlining of Maps features that had started up recently, such as rolling Hotpot into place pages and making Latitude social location info an integral part of the map service rather than separate.