Google Maps for Android adds offline mapping button after user outcry

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A day after unveiling a revamped version of its popular Maps for Android that removed the application's offline maps feature, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is responding to user complaints by adding a new "Make this map area available offline" button. The update is rolling out globally starting today.

Google reinstates offline mode.

"We know some of you are missing an easy way to access maps offline," the Google Maps team said in a Google+ post. "That's why our engineering team has been working around the clock to add a 'Make this map area available offline' card below the search box for easier access." Maps for Android users may also access maps offline by entering "OK Maps" into the search box when viewing the area they wish to explore.

The retooled Google Maps also eliminates the Latitude location finder and check-ins: Google is retiring Latitude on Aug. 9, shifting users to its Google+ social networking platform. The update issued this morning introduces a "Where's Latitude?" link at the bottom of the side menu promising more information about the phase out as well as updates on Google's other location sharing services.

The overhauled Google Maps--compatible with Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean devices and coming soon to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS--includes Explore, which enables users to visually browse and discover nearby places with no typing required. The app also enhances motorist navigation, introducing traffic reports highlighting transit problems complete with incident details as well as re-routing options. Also new: A 5.0 star rating system promising users a quick read on how their friends and others rank destinations like restaurants, bars and cafés, as well as search results incorporating Zagat badges of excellence and expert-curated lists.

Google Maps is the second most popular mobile application among U.S. consumers, trailing only Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), according to a recent comScore Mobile Metrix report.

For more:
- read this Google+ post
- read this Verge article

Related articles:
Google Maps for Android adds tablet UI, revamped user ratings
Google shakeup continues as Maps chief Huber shifts to new role
Google Maps for iOS eclipses 10 million downloads in first two days
Google Maps returns to Apple's iPhone, adds turn-by-turn navigation
Facebook usurps Google Maps as top app in U.S.

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