Google Maps for Android hit version 5.7 today, and it includes a significant update in the form of Transit Navigation (beta). Now, users in over 400 cities around the world will get to enjoy turn-by-turn and stop-by-stop navigation for public transit systems. The feature is perfect for when you're traveling and you can't read the signage or don't understand the language, and it's difficult for you to decipher your next stop.
Transit Navigation uses GPS to determine your current location along your route and alerts you when it's time to get off or make a transfer. Keep in mind, however, that since GPS connection is essential (as it is with all navigation), the service works best on above-ground transit. This means that traveling on certain public systems (subways) may result in interrupted service or no service at all. That's not a problem we're pinning on the app itself, however, it's simply the nature of GPS.
And just as before, Navigation will stay active even when you open other applications or kill your screen and put your device in your pocket. It will display notifications and vibrate to notify you of any inflections in your route.
Along with Transit Navigation (beta), Google has also added a few convenient, yet admittedly less significant, updates to the app. The Navigation icon now appears automatically when you're pulling up directions, whereas previously, you had to enter your destination, hit Go, then find the bright blue arrow. This change means one fewer tap to activate turn-by-turn navigation. Search suggestions are now more powerful, displaying icons and suggesting previous searches when relevant. And finally, a nifty photo viewer has been built into Google Place pages, giving you a slightly improved browsing experience.
Google Maps 5.7 is available now for all Android devices running OS 2.1+. Check out the official release here.