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December 7, 2010

Google Maps for Mobile 5 is imminent

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by Darren Allan

Google is about to release version 5 of its Maps for Mobile service, which brings 3D into the mix.

Andy Rubin, Google’s Vice President of Engineering, showed it off when he demo’ed a prototype Motorola tablet running Gingerbread at the D: Dive into Mobile event in San Francisco yesterday evening.

Rubin said that the new version for smartphones would be available in a matter of “days”, so probably by the end of the week.

It renders the landscape using vector based maps rather than tiles, which allows buildings to be displayed in 3D, which can be panned down towards street level and rotated around using gesture controls in pretty impressive fashion (complete with shadows, too).

According to Engadget, there will be building outlines for a hundred cities implemented at launch.

An offline mode is also promised, although not all Android mobiles will be able to use every feature version 5 of the app boasts. However, Engadget notes that newer mobiles from the original Droid (Milestone) onwards should be fine with most of the goodies.

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