Google Maps for Android robustified: voice search, transit directions, and more

Google Maps for Android has been functional since its release, but now it’s actually catching up to the real thing, and sports some features that integrate it more completely with Android while also increasing its usefulness. Personally, I’m excited about public transportation being included in directions; you’re most likely to need that when you’re out and about and have nothing on you but your phone. Voice search within Maps could be handy, but I foresee many difficulties when somebody lives on an uncommon street name like “McGilvra.”

I’m happy they’re implementing the long touch to invoke Street View (very intuitive) but the streets are little and your finger is big, so you’ll likely be looking at a store down the street or on an adjacent one much of the time. I predict it will drive you into fits of rage, but you need to keep it together, man.

Latitude (am I the only one who thinks “Lakitu” every time?) also gets an update, fixing some bugs and adding a new feature, a sort of location-based tweet that probably won’t be useful until more people are really using Latitude. To get all these new features, you’ll need to re-download Maps from the Market — it’s not automatic like the system updates.

With Google regularly posting updates like this, Android looks better and better practically every week. I admit that I’m biased, having and liking a G1, but if you compare what we have to 1.0 and imagine where we’ll be in six or eight months, it’s quite an exciting ride. Relatively speaking, of course — I also like to ride wild horses.