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Google unleashes new feature-laden Maps for Android, coming to iOS soon

Google has officially unveiled the latest version of Maps for Android, which packs both new features and an updated interface.

Building upon the design for the current Google Maps iPhone app, the update brings with it enhanced navigation and discovery tools, as well as service replacements.

"In addition to current traffic conditions, we've added two new features to help you navigate around traffic," wrote Daniel Graf, director of Google Maps, in a blog post (opens in new tab). Users can now access real-time traffic incident details, and will receive alerts from the app if a quicker alternative route becomes available.

The new Explore function enables users to browse and discover places like restaurants and shops without typing. "Simply tap the search box and you'll see cards showing great places to eat, drink, sleep and shop," the blog entry reads.

Google has also integrated a new five-star rating system directly into Maps, through which users can "read on how your friends and others rate places like restaurants, bars and cafes."

The rating service is powered by Zagat, which Google bought up in September 2011 (opens in new tab). There is, however, no room yet for Waze features in the Maps update, following Google's controversial acquisition of the mapping software last month (opens in new tab).

Google has also replaced offline maps. Instead, users can enter "OK Maps" into the search box when looking at an area they wish to save for later. My Maps is not available with this update but will appear in future versions.

Finally, Latitude and check-ins will be removed from Maps on 9 August, which you can find more about at Google's help centre (opens in new tab).

"Today's update is an exciting step forward for Google's maps – one that we hope will make it faster and easier for you to explore and discover places you want to go," said Graf.

Google previewed the new version of Maps for mobile back in May (opens in new tab), at its 2013 I/O developer conference.

The update is rolling out to Android Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich users, but some features will not be available in all countries. According to Google, it will land on iOS devices "soon."

Aatif is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in the UK. He’s written about technology, science and politics for publications including Gizmodo, The Independent, Trusted Reviews, Newsweek, and ITProPortal.