Laws on the books to stop texting or talking on a cell phone while driving are nothing new, in fact I know a guy who just got slammed with five points on his license for doing it. But laws regarding cell phone use while driving leave a gray area, GPS and map aids, programs not within the spirit of the laws when they were made and an uncertainty for courts.
The government is looking to change that.
The Transportation Department has asked congress to give them the ability to regulate map aids and devices as part of their ongoing battle with 'distracted driving.' The measure is part of the GROW AMERICA proposed transportation bill, and would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration free reign to set restriction and limits on apps and down the line demand changed to any it deems dangerous.
What does this mean in a practical sense? Apps for maps might start to look like the built in GPS system in your car, where some models make you press a button acknowledging that you will not set the device while the car is moving. It might mean that telling the court you were just checking your map won't get you off.
The measure has support from automakers who have already built those safeguards into their GPS devices. Regulatory agencies maintain that they already have the authority to regulate these apps as vehicle equipment, and only want it written into law.
That means they don't have the authority or they would not be demanding it from congress.
This evening Google released Google Maps 2.0 for iOS, and with it comes a bunch of new features, including full iPad support. That's a welcome change to owners of Apple's tablets, but the new Google Maps brings a bunch more with it.
Enhanced turn-by-turn navigation now includes live traffic updates and incident reports. When you are looking for something specific, Google Maps now drills down into popular categories like restaurants, playing, shopping, and sleeping. Google now owns Zagat, and as such, Zagat ratings are included and listed within the results. Google Offers also gets integrated into Maps, showing you results that have deals as well.
What may be seen as the coolest addition to the Google Maps app is the inclusion for indoor mapping. That means that you can now launch Google Maps to get indoor directions at places like malls, airports, bus and train stations, and more.
You can download Google Maps 2.0 for iOS now from the App Store.
Google has released an update for Google Maps for iPhone, adding new search icons to make it easier and faster to find points of interest, as well as integration with your Google Contacts, which makes it easier to find friends. The search icons include things like restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and other typical POIs. The way the contacts work is, if you have your friends address saved, then you can search for their name and have their address pop up on the map--it isn't meant to find your friends by location in real-time. You can download Google Maps for iPhone 1.1 now in the App Store.
Read More | Google Maps for iPhone
Maps for Windows Phone users is about to get a little better. According to Google, it is planning on fixing the issue preventing Windows Phone users from reaching the Google Maps website through Internet Explorer. The search giant had this to say:
"We periodically test Google Maps compatibility with mobile browsers to make sure we deliver the best experience for those users. In our last test, IE mobile still did not offer a good maps experience with no ability to pan or zoom and perform basic map functionality. As a result, we chose to continue to redirect IE mobile users to Google.com where they could at least make local searches. The Firefox mobile browser did offer a somewhat better user experience and that’s why there is no redirect for those users. Recent improvements to IE mobile and Google Maps now deliver a better experience and we are currently working to remove the redirect. We will continue to test Google Maps compatibility with other mobile browsers to ensure the best possible experience for users."
Google had previously stated that the outage was because its mobile Maps site wasn't designed with IE in mind.
Google has finally reincarnated its map offering and is free of charge in Apple's App store for your consumption. The app promises features that the fabled old stock maps didn't offer like voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation. It has been said by AllThingsD that Apple chose to do its own mapping solution because Google wouldn't offer that specific feature for iOS. My initial impression of the app is that it is visually appealing, and we are glad to see that Street View is present, along with public transit info. The most important thing is that the new Google Maps is vector-based, so navigating the map should be buttery smooth. Google reps have admitted that it's even better than maps for Android. Here's the run down of the features in the Google Maps reboot:
Read More | Google Maps for iOS
iOS developer Ben Guild has received alleged information on a Google Maps app for iOS 6 that is currently in alpha testing; including the classic blurry cam pics. The much desired Google Maps app is fast, vector-based, supports two-finger rotation to any angle, and is iPhone 5 ready. Unfortunately, there's no ETA of when it will arrive at the App Store. Of course, arrival time is not as important as making sure the app is tested and fully baked for consumers before launching. When all is said and done, Google Maps should be a free download for users.
Read More | Ben Guild
iOS 6 and iPhone 5 users now have a popular Google Maps feature available to them again--Street View. Google Street View is available in the Google Maps web app in Mobile Safari, as well as in the Chrome app. Users can save the web app to their Home screen for quick access to Google Maps. Not as elegant as a native app, but definitely usable.
In the latest Apple Maps saga, The Verge is reporting some security concerns regarding sensitive military installations that appear on mapping solutions by Apple. as compared to Google Maps and Nokia Maps. The picture being portrayed is that Apple is showing more information than the other companies. While it may appear accurate on the surface, it lacks transparency and fairness. Case in point, we all can agree that Area 51 is one of the most secretive government military installations in the world. Coincidentally, or ironically, The Verge failed to report that Google's map offering shows a much more pristine image of Area 51 than Apple's map of that particular base, nor is it pixelated for security. I went out of my way to tweet the author of the post to get an explanation for the discrepancy. There are definitely more examples of similar discrepancies, this isn't limited to just Area 51.
Read More | The Verge
Google has announced a few nice updates to Google Maps that will be rolling out soon. For starters, expect offline maps to come to mobile Android and iOS devices. You'll be able to look up a map area in advance and select it to be made available offline. Maps will then indicate how much space it will take up on your device, and will download the content with your approval.
The second major feature is greatly-improved 3D maps. Thanks to planes shooting images at a 45 degree angle and from directly above, Google used stereophotogrammetry to combine the images to create 3D scenes. Google was able to demo this on an internal version of Google Earth for iPad, showing off the city of San Francisco in 3D.
It's pretty much a sure thing that Apple will be replacing Google Maps with its own solution in iOS 6, highlighting a new 3D mapping feature in the process, and that this will be revealed on June 11 during the WWDC 2012 keynote. What we didn't expect, however, was that Google would be planning its own Maps even five days prior to Apple's announcement in order to show off what we assume will be its own 3D mapping feature. Yep, Google will be holding an event to show off "The Next Dimension of Google Maps" the morning of Wednesday, June 6 at 9:30am PDT. We'll have all the details as they happen.
Read More | 9to5Mac