Android Google Maps app now offers a better, faster updates for Latitude friends.

New Google Maps app reduces battery consumption

A new version of Google’s ubiquitous Google Maps application for Android smartphones has hit the Android Marketplace, promising improved battery life and improved friends location in Google Latitude.

The new Google Maps which is now available in the Android Marketplace, also adds the ability to estimate the user’s location based on speed and direction even when the GPS signal is lost.

The main features, however, are targeted at users of the Latitude service which uploads the phone’s location to the cloud for optional sharing with friends and family. The service has always been a little patchy in terms of frequency of updates so ‘fresher locations’ will be most welcome.

As will be the promised reduction in battery consumption although it’s not clear if that relates to GPS-use only or the background location uploading via network or cell tower based location.

Another minor change is the increase of route options for public transit, from three to four. The new app also provides a feedback mechanism in the settings menu, possibly to add an element of crowd sourcing to pinpoint issues with current maps and navigation routes.

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