Google Maps for Android gets improved user interface

Users with Google's Nexus One phone can now turn the homescreen into a map that updates itself

Google has released version 4.1 of Google Maps for Android, adding a constantly-updated map wallpaper, tweaking the way search results are displayed and adding a new Latitude widget for tracking your friends.

The search result changes, announced in a blog post on Wednesday, replace the previous tabbed interface with a series of buttons to see where a store is located on the map, get directions, call the store, or see it with Street View. Google has also added a feature that lets users swipe left or right on the touchscreen to see more search results, in, for example, the reviews section, it said.

The new version of Google Maps for Android is more tightly integrated with Google's Latitude service, which lets users see where their friends are and also share their own location. Users that have upgraded to version 4.1 can add a Latitude widget to the home screen.

Phones running version 2.1 of Android can use the live wallpaper feature to turn the home screen into one big, updating map, so users can see nearby friends or a map each time they open the home screen, Google said.

Version 4.1 of Google Maps for Android is available for download from Android Market on phones with at least version 1.6 of the Android operating system.

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