August 16, 2012

Google Updates Maps, Play Store, And Google+ Apps, All In A Day's Work

It didn't take long since our last edition of The Roundup for Google to come out with yet more updates. Oh how we begged them to stop. To just take a break for a while. Go visit its grandma in Illinois. Rent a cabin in the woods. Go fishing with friends. But Google just had to keep doing stuff. Some of us haven't seen our spouses for weeks. Others missed their baby's first steps. All because Google refused to take a break.

Google Maps Updates Transit

Google celebrated getting to 1 million public transit locations in Maps with a few small but useful updates to its Android app. First, you can now select different public transit layers individually. For instance, you can either choose to see all public transit stops in your area, or just the subway stops (like in the photo to the right). You also get station pages that show you departure times, what lines serve that station, and distance to nearby stations.

Unrelated to transit, when you search a city or zip code, that area will now be outlines so you can easily see its borders. My Places section now has tabs you can swipe between like your offline maps, starred places, recent places, reviewed places, and any custom maps you may have built. Finally, if you have Location History enabled, you now get a handy dashboard that shows you a map of your daily travels and recently visited places.

Google+ for iOS and Android Get Hangouts on Air and More

You can now join live Hangouts on Air not just from your desktop but from your Android or iOS device. Also teenagers ages 13 and up can now create and join Hangouts on Android. Finally, and most importantly, if you have Google Chrome installed on your iPhone or iPad, any link you click on in Google+ can now be opened in Chrome. This sounds like the smallest of the updates. But as The Next Web speculates, this can soon be the default choice for all Google apps on the iPhone and iPad. Right now, Safari is the only browser Apple allows to be the default. This makes it hard for other browsers to compete and get serious traction, since all the links will just open in Safari. But specific apps can direct their links to a specific browser, if it's installed. If Google has all of their popular apps like Gmail, YouTube, Search, and the upcoming Maps open in Chrome, then Chrome for iOS may actually become the first serious contender on Apple's platform.

Google Play to Offer Gift Card Redemption & Wishlist

The Android Police has thoroughly inspected the newest version of the Google Play Store app for Android to discover not one but two new features. First, users will have an easy option to redeem gift cards just by clicking the menu button and selecting "Redeem". Second, users will eventually have the ability to create a wishlist, also from the menu options. The wishlist feature is not yet active or functional, so there is no telling when it'll be ready.