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Offline Maps for Android Goes Live

Now you can get a map of an area downloaded to your Android device so that map can be viewed offline. As we see this is only for Android devices (at least for now) the divide between iOS and Android grows wider and wider.

Along with this announcement comes an improvement in the Street View functionality as well. The Google Lat Long blog tells us

Today we’re also releasing a smoother and faster Compass Mode for Street View within Google Maps for Android. It’s the next best thing to being there, because your device becomes a window into a 360-degree, panoramic view of the outdoor or interior location through Business Photos. To experience the improved qualities of this feature you need a device with Google Maps for Android, Android 3.0 or higher and a gyroscope sensor plus version 1.8.1 of Street View on Google Maps.

The trouble here of course is that you need to be running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) or higher. Considering the fragmented nature of the Android ecosystem I am not sure what percentage of Android users will have the opportunity to enjoy this update.

Hopefully, with the announcement yesterday of the Jelly Bean Android update, Google will have some of the older systems rolled out to more devices? Remember, however, the great splash Ice Cream Sandwich made only to melt under the news that about 7% of the Android devices actually run it over a year later?

Oh well. Us mere mortals will just have to see what are allowed to do, right?