Google has updated its Google Maps application for the mobile browser, adding new location-oriented features to provide a better experience for users of Android smartphones and tablets and Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
Now when users navigate to maps.google.com from their Android or iOS devices, and choose to share their location with that device, they will see the same features they've come to appreciate from the desktop version of Google Maps.
These include the ability to search for what's nearby with suggest and auto complete; get driving, transit, biking and walking directions; view Place pages with photos, ratings and other data; click on icons for popular businesses and transit stations; and access starred locations and personalized My Maps.
Google Maps for the mobile browser is not to be confused with the native Maps app for Android and iOS devices, which load immediately and are quite popular.
Some 40 percent of Google Maps usage is driven through these apps, and as much as 50 percent on weekends, when people are trying to navigate somewhere.
However, native apps aren't updated as frequently as some users would like, so it helps to go to the Web-based version of Google Maps for fresh material.
"Google Maps for mobile browsers is platform independent-you will always get a consistent experience and the latest features without needing to install any updates, no matter what phone you use,"explained Google software engineer Alireza Ali.
The broader reason why this is important is that Google Maps is the central hub for Google's location-based services, which are evolving beyond local search to local commerce and deals. Google Places combined with Google Offers are the cornerstones of this effort.