The new card interface in Google Maps.
A new version of Google's Maps app is hitting Android devices around the world, bringing with it an updated interface and a few handy new features. Tablet users in particular should appreciate the improvements, many of which are made with them in mind.
The update brings a visual refresh, putting the Maps apps more in line with the latest version of Android and Google Now. "Cards" with contextual information like nearby coffee shops will appear immediately when you hit the search box, and the floating interface resembles the latest desktop Maps Web app.
Local restaurants and other attractions will appear automatically based on your location and searches, and reviews from Zagat, as well as coupons and deals from Google, are built in.
Specially optimized tablet versions of the app will be downloaded if you're on an Android tablet — or an iPad, when the iOS version of the new app comes out. Users frustrated by Apple's own Maps app will likely find it a welcome alternative.
Lastly, some subtractions: Latitude, Google's location-sharing service, will be phased out, as will the "make available offline" option. Don't worry, though, they've duplicated Latitude's functions (little used as they are) in Google+, and there's a new way to download maps for offline use. Just zoom out to the area you'd like to keep on your device and enter "OK Maps" into the search box. A puzzling change, but at least the feature is still there.
The new app is rolling out in Google Play over the next weeks, and an iOS version should appear soon as well. Keep an eye on your update notifications.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.
First published July 10 2013, 3:59 PM