Google Maps 5.0 has just unfolded in the Android Market, bringing 3D buildings and panning and rotating gestures to Android phones, as well as a new offline mode.
3D buildings and a set of new functions triggered by two fingered gestures (stop laughing) are now available on selected high-end Android phones. You can now tilt and rotate maps by dragging down and twisting with two fingers. Titling the map down triggers the new 3D mode which features those lovely 3D buildings and rotating the map allows you to get a better idea of your surroundings.
A new compass mode centers the map on your location and starts to automatically rotate 3D maps to match your perspective – really handy when you’re visiting a new city for the first time.
The Google Nexus S, as we saw in this video on Monday, supports all of these features, as do Samsung Galaxy S’s and Motorola Milestones that have been updated to Android 2.2. High end phones like the Google Nexus One, HTC Desire and Sony Ericsson X10 support the zooming and tilting gestures only.
The offline mode with all works on all Android phones and devices running Android 1.6/Donut or higher.
Google Maps now caches areas of maps you most frequently use, so if you’re hopping onto the tube or getting a train, you’ll still be able to view parts of Google Maps even when there’s no signal. Caching automatically happens when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi – either at home asleep or when you get in to the office.
Those who like to their Android phones into sat-nav devices will be pleased to know that this offline mode works with Google Maps Navigation as well.
Google Maps 5.0 is free to download from the Android Market now; hit the link below on your phone to download it or search in the Market as normal.