New Google Maps API Gives Android Tablets a Fighting Chance

The latest update brings the API on par with the official app

The mobile Google Maps has been the center of attention for a while now, though not necessarily because of something it did, rather because it's missing from the iOS 6 and, as such, from the iPhone 5 and the new, new iPad.

With Apple devices off the table, for now, Google is doubling down on Android and fixing the biggest sore spots.

It just unveiled a brand new Google Maps Android API, bringing with it a lot of new features for developers.

"The updated API is easy to use and features vector-based maps that load quickly and enables users to easily navigate 2D and 3D views, and tilt and rotate the map with simple gestures," Google boasts.

Most of the recent additions to the Google Maps app, where "recent" means the past couple of years, are now available to third-party apps.

The new features range from basic stuff such as vector rendering to the latest big features like interior maps or the 360-photo feature, the Photo Sphere.

It's a big update and a welcomed one, third-party developers had been feeling a bit left behind. For example, they didn't even have support for touch gestures, everything had to be implemented by hand.

That's no longer the case, with the latest update, third-party apps can be as powerful as the official app.

One area in particular that has gotten focus, rightfully so, is tablets. Android tablets have always been lacking in the app department, the new API should help, it includes support for a more flexible UI design, giving app makers a greater freedom in designing their apps.

Google has been working with several developers while creating the new API so a few apps relying on it are already built. The Trulia app, which will land later today, has gotten a major update. Likewise, the Expedia Hotels app, which will land in a few weeks.

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