Just before Thanksgiving we made Google Maps Navigation available on Android 1.6 (Donut). Before we head out for the holidays, we wanted to launch one more update to Google Maps for Android-powered phones to help you get around during your holidays. With today's release of Google Maps 3.3 for Android, you can now easily find out what businesses are nearby, try several experimental Labs features, and report problems with map data right from your phone.

What's nearby?
If you're visiting an unfamiliar place, you can now easily see what businesses are nearby. Just long-press on the map, tap on the bubble, and look for "What's nearby?" in the menu.

The menu item shows a nearby business, and you can click on it to see more nearby places. You can also access this feature from the My Location menu or from address search results. When you're meeting friends, it's a great way to find the nearest shops, cafes, or other places to get out of the cold.

Google Maps for mobile Labs
We hear a lot of feature requests for Google Maps for mobile, and we're constantly brainstorming ideas, too. To help us innovate faster and experiment with new features, we're following in the footsteps of Google Labs and Gmail Labs by introducing Labs to Google Maps for Android.

To access Labs, just press the menu key, then "More", and then "Labs".

You'll find several stocking stuffers under Labs. You can now:
  • display a scale bar on the map, to get an idea of how far apart things on the map are
  • show a terrain layer, to help plan your hike or cross-country ski trip
  • search for popular categories, so you never have to type in "Vietnamese restaurant" or "bowling alleys" again
  • turn the blue My Location dot into a compass arrow that shows the direction you're facing when stationary
  • add a Layers button to the screen so you can quickly toggle layers like Traffic, Satellite, Latitude, and Transit Lines

Report problems in Maps

One of the advantages of using Google Maps on your phone is that you automatically use our latest map and business data downloaded over your phone's Internet connection. But keeping up with real world changes is a challenge, and sometimes our data isn't up-to-date.

If you find that what's shown on your phone doesn't match
what's on the ground, you can now report a problem to Google. For problems like getting the wrong number when you call to order a pizza, or finding that the store you were going to is now out of business, just click on "Report a problem" in the listing menu. For problems you can see on the map, like a newly built street that's missing or a road with the wrong name, first long-press near the spot on the map. Then just tap on the bubble, click on "Report a problem", and type in a description of the problem. If you want, we will even e-mail you to let you know when it's resolved! (Reporting map problems is available in the United States; see Your world, your map for more information.)

You can download Google Maps with these new features from Android Market on Android-powered phone, as long as it has Android 1.6 (Donut) or higher. If you have a Droid from Verizon or a T-Mobile myTouch 3G or G1, then this means you!

Happy holidays!