The first being that Google Maps 5.0 will use Vector based mapping instead of traditional flat images. This makes for maps that will scale and zoom instantly without the need for loading a new image at the adjusted zoom level, and it also reduces the file size needed to download the map data.
Next is the 3D map view, which brings a far greater level of understanding when viewing the map, and allows you to rotate around the map to view things from a different direction. 3D maps are available for over 100 cities worldwide, and Google plans to add more.
Lastly, with the new reduced map data size comes Offline Storage. So many times when using Google Maps you drop out of data coverage, or maybe you’re simply abroad and don’t want massive data charges. Maps 5.0 will store map data on your device allowing you to still have map coverage even if your data coverage has failed. Rather than having a static set of maps when installed, Maps will automatically start caching the areas you visit the most when your device is plugged in and connected to WiFi (e.g., the nightly charge). Google say they’re working to improve the algorithms and technology behind these features, so over time you can expect to see maps work better in more offline situations.
Android 1.6+ devices can get Maps 5.0, but 3D and offline features require Android 2.0+, and some features may not be supported for all devices or countries. There’s a YouTube demo video after the break…