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Contacts and quick search feature in Google Maps iOS update

Google has released an update to its iOS Maps app, which provides faster access to nearby locations and links to a user's Google contacts list.

For those in search of the nearest Starbucks or Shell garage, tapping the search bar with the app will now bring up icons for restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and petrol stations. Tap one and Google will pull up the closest local options, preventing you from having to type your query into the search box.

Tap the "..." button for further options, like post offices, hotels, grocery stores, pharmacies, movies theatres, malls, hospitals, ATMs, and attractions.

If you're visiting a specific person, meanwhile, their information will now be searchable, provided you have their address saved via Google Contacts. Type them into the search box and their name and address will pop up for quick directions.

If you don't have an address saved for a particular friend, their name won't appear when you search within Maps. Changes made to my Contacts list via Gmail this afternoon showed up instantaneously within the app, however, so adding people is easy enough.

Meanwhile, Google said it is rolling out the English version of its app in seven new countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. The update also lets users choose between kilometres and miles in the settings menu.

"This update is part of our goal to make Google Maps comprehensive, accurate and useful – wherever you may be in the world," Google said in a blog post.

Google Maps for iOS was released in December, nearly three months after Apple removed the pre-installed Google Maps from its mobile operating system with iOS 6.