Google is getting ready to host a new special event with only a few weeks to go until its annual Google I/O developers conference kicks off. The Search giant has issued press invites for a media event scheduled for June 6 during which the company will unveil the future of Google Maps, or, in its own words, “the next dimension” of its mapping tool.
The iOS 6 Threat
Obviously, the next dimension of Google Maps refers to 3D support, something Google has been reportedly working on for a while now. But why the hurry to unveil the new product update a few weeks ahead of I/O? In case you didn’t know, Apple is going to hold its own annual developers conference in just over a week, and the iPhone maker is said to unveil its own 3D mapping system that will be available on iOS devices starting with iOS 6, and which will replace Google Maps, currently the default mapping app on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Google will certainly want to convince iOS users to stay faithful to Google Maps even after Apple would introduce its own unnamed iOS maps app, which explains why the company is eager to unveil the new Google Maps features a few days ahead of Apple’s WWDC keynote.
Apple has been working on its own mapping solution for a few years now, purchasing various companies that developed their own Google Maps rivaling products. One of the features of Apple’s future mapping system is 3D support, although not confirmed yet, so we’re not really surprised to see Google schedule a maps-related event ahead of Apple, in order to beat its fierce rival to the punch when it comes to announcing a 3D mapping system. Furthermore, iOS 6, which will be unveiled at WWDC 2012 and launched at some point in fall, could also offer navigation support in addition to a proprietary Apple mapping service, thus matching a Google exclusive service that has been available to Android device users free of charge for a while now, Google Maps Navigation.
But 3D integration is not the only new features of the upcoming Google Maps product. There are more features Google could add to Google Maps in upcoming updates.
Google+, Latitude, History Timeline and more
Android Police has further explored the recent Google Maps for Android APK – the one that offers Zagat integration – and found inside various files that hint at future Google Maps features. Among those, we note Google+ integration, Latitude, Timeline, a bicycle layer but also a “mystery feature.”
As expected, Google+ will be integrated in the future version of Google Maps – after all Google’s social network is slowly becoming part of all of the company’s online services – and it looks like the company has chosen its Latitude service for Google+ integration. Apparently a file inside the latest Google Maps for Android release is called “latitude_migrate_to_circles_welcome_dialog.xml” and it clearly indicates that Latitude location sharing could be done via Google+ Circles in the future.
The Timeline should help Google Maps users keep track of their recent travel history – as long as they want Google to remember that data for them – and could provide some “Check In”-like features.
Other xml files reveal that Google Maps users will be able to make reservations with OpenTable and enjoy a new bicycle layer, a feature I’m sure will be more than appreciated once it becomes available.
Finally, there’s a “mystery feature” that’s coming to Google Maps. Android Police describes a collection of files that have “bucket_price” in their names, some of them being images that show various stacks of coins comprised of 1 to 4 coins with the number 10 displayed on them. However, it’s not known what the feature is meant to offer.
We’ll be back with more details about the next dimension of Google Maps and all of its new features next week once Google makes them official.