June 6, 2012 at 1:24 PM ET
Many of us rely on Google Maps to find our way around, but the service doesn't help us much once we leave the roads or our Internet connections. That's about to change — and everything's getting more accurate, too, according to the search giant.
During a press event in San Francisco, Wednesday, Brian McClendon — Vice President of Engineering for Google Maps — discussed how the service will let us go off-road, thanks to something called Street View Trekker.
Trekker is a way for Google to go into places where the traditional Street View cars can't. All the gear necessary for Google staff to photograph the spots only accessible by foot fits into a backpack. This means that Street View will soon let you explore ski slopes, canyons, and more.
McClendon also focused on how the company is working to keep Google Maps up-to-date and accurate. As the world is constantly changing — we're constantly constructing something new, after all — this is a "never ending job," says McClendon.
Google regularly cross-checks its maps, according to McClendon. This allows the company to significantly update its data. Feedback from users who report problems and changes via Google's Map Maker tool helps, too.
That's fine and dandy, but what good are these snazzy maps when you can't access them without a data connection?
Well, that concern will soon be moot. Google is going to launch offline Google Maps for Android in the next few weeks. This means that you'll be able to use Google Maps even if you are on the subway or in another spot that lacks Internet connectivity. All you have to do is select the regions you need to explore while offline and download them. Google will show you how much space you'll need to save the relevant files.
The Google press conference preempts Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote on June 11, when it's expected the iPhone maker will announce its own map application. According to BGR's Jonathan Geller, iOS 6 — the next version of Apple's mobile operating system — will bring 3-D mapping features which use mapping technology developed by Apple.
No word on whether Phone users will get to enjoy an similar feature to the updates Google announced for Android, though that may not be a concern if the reports of Apple ditching Google Maps are true.
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