Enhanced Android application only works on devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Google Maps 6.5 beefs up navigation features

Google unveiled Google Maps 6.5 for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, sporting an updated navigation screen as the firm announced that Maps had provided navigation instructions for trips totaling 50 billion kilometres.

The Google Maps application is formally called Google Maps with Navigation and a great deal of smartphone owners use the application as a personal GPS navigator. So much so that such Maps navigated trips were the equivalent of 130,000 trips to the moon, Google said.

The Navigation feature has always been something of an afterthought but with the new Google Maps 6.5 it seems Google has paid much greater attention to the UI, making is easier to enter destinations and choose from recent locations.

Sadly the new version is limited to devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which still isn’t that many devices given how slowly handset manufacturers and mobile operators have been at providing over-the-air updates to Google’s latest and greatest mobile OS.

Those that have Android 4.0 will most likely be using a modern superphone such as the Galaxy Nexus. Playing to the crowd, Google also unveiled higher resolution map tiles which made for a "crisper, less cluttered map that is easier to read," Google said.

Maps 6.5 also beefs up support for public transport and allows users to specify their preference for modes of transport including buses and subways. Google recently added London to the list of 475 cities with transit directions and timetables that are available for trip planning in Google Maps.

Google Maps 6.5 is available on Google Play (formerly the Android Marketplace) for Android 4.0+ devices.

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