Google May 11 brought its biking directions feature to Google Maps 4.2 for Android, along with the ability to share places with friends for smartphones using Android 1.6 and higher.
Google introduced biking directions on its desktop version of Google Maps March 9, but conspicuously left out the feature for smartphones such as Apple's iPhone or Google Android gadgets.
While users could easily plan their routes in advance at home from their computers, this solution wasn't quite effective for users who wanted to change course on the go from their mobile phones. Adding biking directions for the Google Maps 4.2 app solves that quandary, if only on Android devices.
Now Android users will see a bicycling layer on the map that shows bike-only trails in dark green, roads with bike lanes in light green, or roads that are good for biking but lack a dedicated lane in a dashed green representation.
Users can also pick their own route by accessing the bike layer shown
Users on the go who want to hook up with friends can also now click the "Share this place" to send that store or landmark's address and phone number, said Michelle Chen, software engineer for Google's mobile team.
"If you want to meet someone on a street corner or gather friends at an outdoor concert, you can also send an exact location from the map -- even a snapshot of your current location," Chen wrote in a blog post. "Just use the share option after selecting a point on the map, your "My Location" blue dot, or yourself in Latitude if it's enabled."
Users will be able to send places or locations they plan on visiting to small groups of people via an e-mail or text message, or choose to send widely with Google Buzz, Facebook, or Twitter.
Finally, drivers using Google Maps Navigation turn-by-turn GPS from their Android devices can use the new Navigation shortcut to pick a destination and get directions with just a couple taps on the phone.
Users can select the Navigation icon in their phone's app launcher to get the new destination selection view; speak or type their destination; pick one from contacts, choose a starred place, or select a recent destination to trigger directions and begin driving to their destination.
Taken together, these moves are designed to boost the use of Google Maps on Android-based devices at a time when users are looking to do more with location-based data.
Google is competing with Apple and others in making software and Web services that leverage location.