Those guys at Google just can’t help but show off. Not content with announcing its new Nexus S which will be running the all new Android Gingerbread and launching its eBookstore in the States, it had to go and show off its new mobile Google Maps on the new Motorola tablet – oh yeah and it was running Android Honeycomb.
Andy Rubin, Google VP of Engineering over at Mountain View was speaking at the D: Dive Into Mobile last night when he followed up the announcement of the Nexus S by coolly pulling the prototype Motorola tablet – possibly called the Stingray – out of his bag of tricks and powered it up. With everyone happy having seen Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) in action on the Nexus S, no one was expecting to see Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) in action straight away. But there it was.
Not too much is known about the Motorola device except that it is powered by an NVIDIA dual-core 3D processor, has video chat and of course runs Honeycomb. Rubin also announced that Honeycomb is due "next year" with support for tablets. The version of Honeycomb demoed by Rubin on the tablet was very different to Gingerbread and had been customized a lot – though the familiar grid of apps was still visible.
When will we see this device properly? We don’t know, though a rumoured release in the US this side of Christmas has not gone away. We will hopefully get our hands on it at CES in January. For now you can see a video of the device in action here.
As regards the Google Maps for Mobile 5, the biggest visual change is dynamic map drawing, which will show buildings fleshed out for over 100 cities. Even better is that you can now use two fingers to tilt and rotate around the map (in addition to moving and pinch-to-zoom, of course). As regards offline caching, Maps will keep on file the locations that you go to (and search) most often, and it'll be able to reroute while offline in Navigation. Though you will need a connection to change your route totally.
Nearly all Android phones of recent years will be able to take advantage of the new functionality though interestingly the brand new Nexus S won’t be able to use the tilt and rotate functions because it lacks the multitouch requirements. The update is due out in the coming days.