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Big Google Maps update adds Uber integration, offline maps, navigation tweaks

Google Maps just received a rather sizable update (Android, iOS) with tweaks to navigation, transit, offline maps, and the option to grab an Uber.

Possibly one of the most interesting new features in the new Maps is the ability for users with the Uber application to use the service as a transportation option right from the Map application. Tapping on this option will kick you out of Maps and into the official Uber application to order a ride to your destination. This is the first time Google has provided users a third-party option outside of public transit, and while it's not really integrated, it's a welcome feature.

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Google introduced offline maps some time ago, but the latest implementation is easier than ever. Now, the option to save maps will be available when looking at location details of a particular area. Tap the location, scroll down a little, you'll be able to download the map area for offline use later. You used to have to type the easter egg "OK Maps" into the search bar to cache the map area for offline viewing. Note that offline maps are not available in every area.

Turn-by-turn navigation has seen a few changes, and now offers up the distance and estimated arrival time right on the screen. Not only that, it will also show you which particular lane you should stay in to get to your destination, as well as provide options for alternate routes.

While there aren't any game-changing features in the latest Google Maps update, it's still a pretty major release, bringing the version number to 8.0 on Android and 3.0 on iOS. The navigation improvements and easier offline maps are oft-requested features, but the most interesting change is the integration with Uber. Is this a one-time affair, or is Google planning to integrate more 3rd party transportation services into Maps?

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