Google has just released an update to its Maps app for Android devices that may prove to be pretty handy this holiday season. Google Maps now features an "indoor" view and lets users peek into — and even navigate through — participating malls and stores around the country, and around the world. This update could prove to be quite handy when mapping out a shopping plan of attack in stores on Black Friday or for folks who just want to make all holiday shopping trips as efficient as possible.
Indoor Maps for More Efficient Black Friday Shopping
The floor plans of participating venues are seamlessly integrated into Google Maps for Android. Just zoom in on a participating store and that extra layer of detail that Google Maps users have come to know and love will appear. When you're done, simply zoom out and the in-store map fades away. Each store's map also labels points of interest: departments, food courts, bathrooms, and ATMs are made navigable. Just click on one for directions and Google will plot a course through the store. This feature is especially handy for finding those up or down escalators between multiple floors.
Indoor maps are available for a number of popular retail locations both far and wide including local malls and select Best Buy, Nordstrom, Macys, and Bloomingdale's stores. Click here for a full list of supported locations.
Updated Google Maps Aggregate Indoor Floor Plans
Are Google's indoor maps as specific as those interactive map apps that Walmart and Macy's are offering this Black Friday? Unfortunately, no. Google's indoor maps won't help customers locate a specific product by informing users of the exact location in-store. With Google Maps, you'll have to already know the department in which the item you are looking for resides, and find directions to that general area. But any tool that allows you some advance planning for Black Friday is useful, right?
What makes Google's Indoor Maps better than individual stores' offerings is that Google can aggregate the floor plans of a wider variety of stores and locations. The update also features layouts of museums, airports, casinos, hospitals, hotels, libraries, and more. Sure those places might not help you tackle holiday shopping (unless you're opting to avoid it all together and are hitting the slot machines instead), but this update makes Google Maps more useful year-round, as compared to Walmart's in-store shopping map. Also, since Google accepts building plans submitted by users, Indoor Maps is an ever-growing database of interior spaces.
While the update is only available for Android devices as of now, iOS users may get their beloved Google Maps for iOS 6 by the end of the year. Until then though, we ask: Will this new feature affect the way Android users go about their in-store shopping on Black Friday and beyond? Or will the app's interior view be shrugged off as unnecessary? Sound off in the comments below.