Google Map’s swanky new update has made life just a little simpler in this metropolitan chaos we live in. Other than the new detailed transit routes, they’ve also introduced ‘Labs’, similar to the one in Gmail. This gives you access to some pretty nifty add-on features that extend the functionality of Google Maps. For now, we have just three to choose from, but I’m sure more are on their way.

No need for data roaming

No need for data roaming

To get started, head over to the Android Marketplace and update Google Maps. Once it’s done, open it up and go to Options>More>Labs. Here you can choose which lab you wish to enable. The first one called ‘Scale Bar’ shows distances in metric and imperial units and changes as you zoom in or out. ‘Measure’ allows you to gauge the distance between any two points that you select. But perhaps, the most exciting feature is the ‘Download Map Area’ lab. This lets you download the entire map of a particular area (only map tiles, no satellite and traffic info) in advance so when you arrive at your destination you don’t have to wait for it to load. This is brilliant since if you’re travelling to another state or country and don’t have data roaming, simply pre-load the map before your journey.

Once the map area has been loaded, you’ll see a square box to show you, which area is ready for viewing. This is currently only available for Android smartphones. iPhone users will have to wait for the next iOS release.

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