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The Dirty Details of the New Google Maps 5

The new Google Maps 5 may have changed the way we use our phones for the foreseeable future with the new set of features that came with it.  Your Maps app will now display 3D versions of cities, load faster, cache maps for offline viewing, and even allow you to navigate without a connection.  It’s pretty amazing stuff and Google wants you to know more about it.  Today, they released the secret behind this amazing new app, which they are calling “vector graphics.”    

What are vector graphics?  And how do they differ from the previous Maps approach?

…it may be helpful to understand how maps were created before. Previously, Google Maps downloaded the map as sets of individual 256×256 pixel “image tiles.” Each pre-rendered image tile was downloaded with its own section of map imagery, roads, labels and other features baked right in. Google Maps would download each tile as you needed it and then stitch sets together to form the map you see. It takes more than 360 billion tiles to cover the whole world at 20 zoom levels!

Now, we use vector graphics to dynamically draw the map. Maps will download “vector tiles” that describe the underlying geometry of the map. You can think of them as the blueprints needed to draw a map, instead of static map images. Because you only need to download the blueprints, the amount of data needed to draw maps from vector tiles is drastically less than when downloading pre-rendered image tiles. Google Maps isn’t the first mobile app to use vector graphics—in fact, Google Earth and our Navigation (Beta) feature do already. But a combination of modern device hardware and innovative engineering allow us to stream vector tiles efficiently and render them smoothly, while maintaining the speed and readability we require in Google Maps. Just try it out and see for yourself!

What about this offline navigation trick?  How does that work?

With Google Maps Navigation (Beta), you’ll also see the benefits of additional caching with offline rerouting. This feature is only possible because Navigation caches not only map data but also data like turn restrictions for the areas surrounding your route. You’ll still need to be connected when you first start a trip to download and cache your route. But this way, even if you take a wrong turn after losing your connection, Navigation can use the cached data to get you back on your way. We will be rolling this feature out gradually over the next few weeks.

There is a ton of additional info that goes into much greater detail over at the Google Mobile Blog and I highly recommend that you check out .  This new version of Maps really is going to change everything and Google promises that this is only the start.

Hit up this link to see the new Google Maps 5 in action.

  • Erygxftrhygfh
  • Bi00tch

    F0CKK Google go Iphone

  • Jiggaman508

    Love it

  • A blog post about what??? spammer.

  • I hate weekends, no droid-life updates!

  • Tarnette

    I hope someone can please help me. I have a Droid X. I installed a ROM and now when I prower on my phone it say android, also at the top it says it is 12:01 am. I am not sure what to do. I know a bout RDS lite but I forgot how to us it. Can anyone please help me. I am really stuck. Thanks if anyone can.

    • QPHALO

      Is it just like when u first got ur phone? Set your gmail account into the phone?

  • What's that bing maps? Huh? You gotta speak up, I can't hear you. Oh.. that's what I thought.

  • The_Other_Ray

    What do you guys use the 3d buildings for? I can't think of a reason why I would really need to use it unless I was a sniper.

    • Better idea of your surroundings in case your lost or can't find your way some place. Knowing the shapes and heights of the buildings should help a lot.

      • DeNon

        I agree..we don't live in a flat world so having the 3d gives a much better perspective.

  • digitalicecream

    Has anyone got this to work on MIUI for dIncredible?

  • Quackk720

    i downloaded the new update and i cant get the 3d cities to load. when i do the two finger thing, the map switches to the view but the buildings never come. whats up with that?

    • Swavey83

      only certain cities are available right now like Indianapolis or Chicago.

      • Mr. Joshua

        And Nashville! 🙂

      • Quackk720

        im looking at NYC

        • You've gotta zoom in nearly all the way, and then you'll see the 3d buildings 'pop up'; literally they'll “be drawn up' from the ground.

  • ericsorensen

    Interesting that Google Earth is smoother in pinch/zoom/rotating, but the roads disappear during the map movement. And, of course, no 3D buildings. But there's no 3D buildings in Shreveport, LA, but NYC looks cool with “maps”.

  • Illinipoke98

    Did the font size shrink for anyone? I haven't started up navigator but regular map street name seem to have shrank. I cant read them while driving now.

    I do love the “perspective” view as well as the fact that regular old maps now lets you go into follow mode where the map rotates as you turn… but I cant read the street names while driving now.

    • it's not meant for reading while driving. that's why you have navigation.

      this is due to the vector graphics. since the processing is done on-board, the image is much more clear and precise (which also means slightly smaller, but that makes it look better).

  • tommytmt

    Its official now, google(and by extension android)is the best and most advanced search engine/os/navigation tool on the planet!

  • Nylabrookes

    How the heck do I get it to go into 3D mode!!!!

  • sylent101

    How do you get the 3d to work?

    • sylent101

      Nvm figured it out just used two fingers lol

  • Jeyrivera89

    Has anyone been having trouble with the compass after upgrading? It seems to turn north into east and i've tried to calibrate it like 15 times now…

    dx 2.2.1

  • this is actually a pretty big deal, and should not be written as “vector graphics”. it's freakin' vector graphics, and that means a lot. other than a very limited functionality of AcrServer, no online service has vector graphics.

    vector graphics doesn't only allow for smaller sizes, etc. etc., it is a fundamentally different way of storing, processing, and distributing data. it allows or dynamic mapping, rather than the old static jpg maps (notice the labels appearing and disappearing as you pan around). it also allows for a lot of different data processing, if google ever decides to venture into the world of online GIS (i've got my fingers crossed for that one). not to mention, the vector data structure would greatly improve searching.

    i, for one, am very happy for this switch, and it has nothing to do with offline data.

    • anonymous

      That's right. And even more so, it shouldn't be written as 'which they are calling “vector graphics.”,' as if google invented the term.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know about you, but every time I saw it in quotes, I kept playing Dr Evil in my head when he did the same thing.

      “Laser beam”

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know about you, but every time I saw it in quotes, I kept playing Dr Evil in my head when he did the same thing.

      “Laser beam”

  • Ldrbuck1

    Does anybody know what layer that is? I can only veiw 3d with the satalite layer, which takes forever to load.

    • whysoserious

      go to layers and uncheck satellite…

    • this is any layer. only some cities have 3D data though. try to go to new york if you want to see it and it's not available in your town yet.

    • Mosone23

      Uncheck ALL layers,drag two fingers down..you'll see it.

  • Erick

    I imagine the offline caching feature is best used like this example:
    Say you're driving to New York, from New Jersey, you have to drive through the Holland Tunnel, in which case, you'd completely lose your GPS signal and the map would pick up where the GPS left off and use it's internal calculations to keep navigating you while your phone tries to pick up the GPS signal again.

    • tjhrulz

      i think it 3G help not nav but GPS will be available anywhere in the USA (except indoors)

  • Chris


    • DBK

      Not so much…..

  • Jawshua

    Being offline after the initial setup is just ground breaking! I love it, I use my Garmen for directions but I think I'll give this a try as well. Thanks Google Maps, and the DL!

  • RoadsterHD1

    Nice Job Google!!!!

  • how do you get it?

  • so it kinda loads a city like a video-game would? they should work with rockstar so we can GTA our way through our hometown

    • Rbonilla81

      that would be so…..awesomew

    • or across america! race like those nerds did in google street-level. maybe stop in vagas

  • NadTwist

    I love you Google.

    • 4 words that sum up so much.

    • Embrace the Overlords!! And I mean that sincerely.

    • Embrace the Overlords!! And I mean that sincerely.

  • saimin

    Anyone figure out how to enable off-line caching for an area you haven't been to yet? The main reason I want to use this feature is for traveling overseas where I don't have a data plan.

    • FortitudineVincimus

      bingo. I leave for Thailand in a few weeks for a month, figure this out and post up 🙂

    • this is probably not possible in the app now. the app only caches what it needs (or what it thinks it needs). maybe try to search a whole bunch of directions in the place where yo are going. but even so, the app wants you to have a connection to start navigating, so at best, you'd be able to just see a map, but nothing else.

      • saimin

        I would be happy with just a detailed street map (with zoom and GPS and compass) of foreign countries. I usually walk or take public transit anyway, so navigation isn't a big deal. I have a 32GB memory card, so storage shouldn't be a problem.

        • well, what you think is a storage problem and what google thinks is a storage problem are two different thing. that’s just not what google maps is meant for, it’s an online service.

          why not just walk around and enjoy where you are going?

          • Anonymous

            The main purpose of maps is to help you get from place to place. Sometimes you want to do something other than being lost.

        • takeshi

          You’d need to find a nav app that stores map data locally. There are several options out there such as CoPilot and Navigon.

    • Anonymous

      You willingly traveling over seas, or being forced?

  • 1bad69z28

    This is really great Google needs to show the youtube video of this app as a TV commercial. I am sure they would get a lot of customers driving the push of Android phones.

    • Barlog

      I was just thinking the same thing. My coworker had an Android phone and once I saw he got free turn by turn gps I was sold. The next week I went out and got the Droid 1 and the rest is history now own the DX. If google showed just a commercial about free gps they would sell so many Android phones. This new update is amazing!

      • 1bad69z28

        I totally agree Google and Verizon need to capture the commercial crowd. I

        think thats the biggest mistake that Google and Verizon have made.

  • Finire

    I can't wait to get the update for offline navigation. This means that we'll be able to use devices besides our phones, say a tablet with no data plan, to navigate with.

    • No, you would have had to previously traveled that route for it to create a cache. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong?

      • Anonymous

        No you just have to load the route on wifi before you set out on your trip

  • The350zWolf

    Well, of course it makes sense… just send the instructions to the phone how to draw the map and let the cpu do the work instead of downloading all of the map pics through the somewhat slow 3G network. This is how games do their graphics. Nice!

  • whysoserious


  • Eduardotre


  • 1bad69z28