Google MapsGoogle Maps Live Wallpaper

Android 1.6+ Google Maps went and updated itself to Version 4.1 tonight, bringing with it an updated search page, support for multiple accounts, a Latitude widget and -- this is very cool -- the ability to make Google Maps your live wallpaper. Let's break it down, erm, after the break.

Search results

Search results have been "reimagined." They've got a new look and feel. instead of drilling down through a list, you're greeted with the top result and then can swipe left and right through other results. It's a nice change and is quite fluid.

Says Google:

"You can select any section to see more reviews, buzz, etc. If you want to get to more search results without going back to the list, simply grab the page with your finger and swipe it away to the left or right to see the next or last result."

It really is a long-overdue refresh for the search options of Google Maps. And search, after all, is what Google does best.

Latitude widget

Latitude widgetJust as it sounds. There's now a widget for Google Latitude. That's the kind of social-networking aspect that lets your friends see exactly where you are, if you so choose.

If you're new to Latitude, it's a bit more privacy friendly than Google Buzz was, at least at its outset. It won't broadcast your location unless you specifically tell it to.

(That said, does anybody actually use Latitude?)

Multiple accounts

Google's finally starting to realize that many of us have to manage more than one Google account, and Google Maps now handles multiple identities. Go to Menu>More>Switch account to sign out of your current account and into a new one. Nice touch.

Live wallpaper

Saved the best for last. As you can see from the picture at the top, you can now set Google Maps as a live wallpaper, which can be darn handy if you need quick access to traffic information. The rest of the time? Eh, who cares how useful it is -- it's pretty damn cool.

 
There are 34 comments

GamBoo says:

I'm Lost! LTFOL!

Matt R. says:

I will definately have to gove this one a try

Sgreff says:

Couldn't get the switch accounts to work...does it activate with the 2.1 update?

g1 says:

I don't think the live wallpaper works for the G1...at least if it does, I haven't found how to activate it.

Thats because the G1 is not running 2.1

Live Wallpaper is 2.1 only

Tim says:

Upgraded to this on the Devour and now pinch zooming is gone...

ips says:

Im rooted and using SG 6.0. New version of google maps wont DL

David says:

I'm on SG 6.0, and I had no issues. Already tried out the live wallpaper...it's the perfect combination of cool and practical uselessness. : )

KrazyRogue says:

Droid here and everything is working well. The only thing not available is the live wallpapers, until 2.1.

theshaz says:

Multiple accts.....hmm why did they add that feature?

Oh, I bet some Google programmer left Laditude on, and was at the topless bar or worse and his wife looked at her Google phone and saw that her Hubby was at the "Red Light Saloon".

Looking forward to 2.1, the search features look good, will try them out, I'm sure to try the live wallpaper when 2.1 comes out on my Droid in a day or two.

ads says:

There are some very good reasons to have more than one google account, but for me, thanks for the idea, it may come in handy, bwaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahah!
ADS

Tim says:

They added it because other core google apps have it on 2.x Android phones and they were just catching up to it.

I'll give you an example why it is useful. I have two google accounts (well really more than two but two that I actually use). One is my every day email account and GoogleTalk IM screen name. The other is uesed exclusively for my Android phones. This is where I keep my calendar and contact list, as well as archive SMS messages.

I do this because Google has a habit of adding all of the addresses of email that you receive to your address book and IM list. I don't want that. I want to control what ones are on my phone address book. The email address that I have on that phone is private and rarely if ever given out and if it is then the odds of are the person I correspond with is already in that address book or should be.

Now on my Droid this is easy I have the private one as the devault for my phone so that is the address book and calendar. The second is also set up but only syncs email. It's a great system.

Now on my Devour which runs Android 1.6 this isn't possible. Android 1.x only allows one Google account so at first I could not check my everyday email on that phone. I did find a way around it but it is hardy ideal. I have IMAP access set up on that account so I can have it sent to my BlackBerries. I just entered the account as an IMAP email account and it does work but it is hardly ideal since I can't search my old email like I can on my Droid. I also can't use that screen name for GoogleTalk on that phone.

Now what's the point here? This is just a feature that other 2.x capable phones have and Maps is just playing catch up.

JimboCV says:

Downloaded 4.1 to my rooted Droid on 2.1 ESE53. I'd rate this upgrade as solid kuhhhrappp. Not only did it bog down my Droid, but even without opting to login/link my account ... it repeated would report "Login failed." Good thing I'd saved 4.0 via Appmanager Pro ... so I deleted this ""upgrade"" and re-installed the older version which runs smooth as silk.

@ai4281 says:

Still no Navigation in Canada. I got excited because one of the change logs said 'Navigation (Beta)'.

Meh, no noticeable changes here. Move on....

KrazyRogue says:

Don't know if this was there before but there's also a new Buzz lab feature which makes the map dark.

ips says:

got it to work, live wallpaper is pretty cool, you can double tap or pinch to zoom in and out on your home screens.

patrick says:

There is a mellow mushroom in Pcola? Thought the only local one was in Destin. Thanks for the tip. LOL

inhuman says:

everything working ok on my nexus 1 so far

kg says:

does anyone else get the creepy google is watching feeling more when they are using this?

Ade says:

Its available in the UK

Anonymous says:

Google maps 4 is still available only in the US. What about the rest of the world?!

Ade says:

Its available in the UK

does the live wallpaper follow your location? Thats gangster!

kickapoo says:

Sorry for the off-topic question, but what calendar widget is displayed on the second screen that shows upcoming events? (I don't have an android device, waiting for my preordered HTC Desire) :)

kickapoo says:

Andrew says:

It force closes about 9 out of 10 times I've open Google maps now. Great testing Google!

From the looks of this, I'm sure this Droid 2.1 update is going to go out flawlessly...

..

DivingDancer says:

My wife and I tried to use Latitude, to avoid the "are you on your way home?" phone calls. But Latitude is AWFUL at staying up to date. It frequently shows one, or both, of us in places that we haven't been in for hours or days.

Martin says:

Still no navigation here in the UK. Shame on you google. Get on with it.

rex says:

i am using a rooted droid, if i double tap a blank area on one of my homescreens it zooms into the google map live wallpaper and i cant zoom back out so im stuck looking at just the roof of the building i am in. any ideas, other than removing the wallpaper and putting it back, or restarting the device?

rexpencoe says:

it also does it when screen is locked or between icons. pretty frustrating.

Jason Smith says:

What is the calendar widget in the screen shot showing the maps live wallpaper? Is that part of 2.1 or a 3rd party? Thanks

tagon says:

I loved the live wallpaper, but it was killing my battery.

Guess I need to look at getting a bigger battery

Galane says:

With all the additions, Google has managed to bollix up the login. Every time I launch Maps I get Login failed.

So I go to sign in and I see Add a Google Account. Um, what does that have to do with signing in? Tap next and there's two buttons, one to add an account, one to sign in.

Tap sign in, enter my gmail address and my password and it tells me the account already exists on the phone. Some times I try and it goes to a CAPTCHA, then it tells me my password doesn't match. WTH? It's the same password I use for my gmail account and the Market (I will not call it by that new name), which both work fine.

I chose Sign In not Add an Account, so why does it keep going to Add an Account?

It's broken and needs a fix ASAP. Stuff like this often happens when a large number of features get added to software - but essential functions like logging in should never be able to make it out the door with such problems.

I did some searching (with Google of course) and login problems like this have happened before with Maps on Android.

I see there's also been some update to Market, apps that are not on my phone but still showed as Not Installed are fixed. There's no longer any showing as Not Installed.