Google Maps for Android gets Bike directions, Location Sharing, Navigation Shortcut

If you’re running Android 1.6 or later, go pop into the Market and update Google Maps. You’ve got some new toys waiting for you.

The new goods:

  • Bicycle directions: While bicycles are mostly free to go wherever cars can, some roads aren’t exactly.. optimal. Bikes are supposed to be a healthy means of getting around — but when there’s no bike lane, the shoulder is 8 inches wide, and 18-wheelers are blowing by at breakneck speeds, the stress alone will kill you.

    The new Google Maps is considerably more bike friendly. If you tap the bicycle icon, directions become optimized for your two-wheeled transport. Roads with bike lanes are highlighted in light green, while roads that lack dedicated bike lanes but are still bike-friendly are shown in dashed green. Bike-only trails (read: the scenic route) show in dark green.

  • Location sharing: You can now send your location or any other point on the map to e-mail, SMS, or to third-party apps.
  • Google Navigation Shortcut: Up until this point, Google Map’s Navigation feature has been almost frustratingly hidden, tucked a few layers deep into the menu system. Well, dig through menus no longer! With this build, Google has added an optional homescreen Navigation shortcut. Tapping it gives you one-click access to speaking/typing directions, navigating to contacts, and a list of recent destinations.

I’ll see you guys later. I’m going to go update and then proceed to not get hit by friggin’ cars on my bike. Thanks, Google Maps!