Launched on Monday, the latest version of Google (News - Alert) Maps for Android offers additional social networking features and a brand new personal dashboard for following your own location history.
The most substantial updates for version 5.3 of the software are for those who already have Google Latitude enabled on their profile. Beginning yesterday, these users can view stats, trends and a visual history of where they spend most of their time. The personal dashboard breaks down hours spent at various locations, including work, home and elsewhere.
To access the dashboard, simply click "view location history" from your Latitude profile. For privacy reasons, Google has made location history completely optional.
The second new feature of version 5.3 is the ability to check-in at home. Prior to the launch of the new software, users could check-in at restaurants or public locations, but couldn't let others know that they were back at their own place.
This feature is also tied to Google Latitude and provides a few privacy settings as well. A user's home location is not searchable and check-in updates are only sent out to those predetermined by the sender. As with the location history dashboard, home check-ins are completely optional.
Finally, Google Maps 5.3 greatly improves Hotspot, the company's reviews engine. Users can now add certain aspects or characteristics of a restaurant or business to the rating engine. So if a restaurant's margarita or salsa is especially appetizing, you can add it to the review list and rank it yourself. Previously, users were only able to rate predetermined criteria – like price, service and quality – and could then only leave comments on other features.
The latest edition of Google Maps is currently available for download on devices that are running Android (News - Alert) version 1.6 or later. Click here to head to the Android Market and download the new app.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Janice McDuffee