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Following Google's launch last week of tablet support with Google Maps for Android -- and the quick fix issued to restore a disabled method for storing maps offline -- Google finally has delivered a version of its Maps app for Apple's tablet line.
Google Maps for iOS 2.0 is the first version to be optimized for the iPad. Other than the layout designed to accommodate tablet screens, there's not much difference between using the native version of Maps on an iPhone and on an iPad.
Street View has been available to iOS users accessing Google Maps through a mobile Web browser since October 2012 and to iPhone users since the first native Google Maps for iOS release in December 2012. Now the Maps update brings Street View to iPads, too.
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Using Street View in a mobile browser requires searching for a location via maps.google.com and then tapping the "pegman" icon that appears in the lower right-hand corner of the map screen.
Launching Street View in the native iOS version of Maps also requires searching for a location. But there's no "pegman." By simply flicking the location address card up, users can reveal a Street View image that will launch the full Street View navigation interface.
Last month, Google extended the availability of Street View further by enabling it in Google Earth 7.1 for Android and iOS. The latest Maps app includes a link to launch Google Earth in the left-hand menu pane.
Version 2.0 of Google Maps for iOS adds navigation enhancements, such as live data on road closures, construction, accidents and related incidents. There's also a new means of map-related content discovery called Explore that's intended to offer an alternative to keyword-based searches.
"Explore is a fast and easy way to visually browse and discover new places without typing a single letter," writes Google Maps director Daniel Graf in a blog post. "Simply tap the search box and you'll see cards showing great local places to eat, drink, shop, play, and sleep."
In essence, Explore is a menu that presents lists of local restaurants, coffee shops, stores, activities and accommodations. These lists include store names, reviews and ratings. They're not pointers to third-party websites like Web search results links; they're more like Google's take on a mobile-oriented recommendation service.
To make its recommendations more useful, Google has adopted a new five-star rating system, which the company has integrated with its Zagat content and Google Offers coupons, presented on the map screen.