Editors' Note: The "Download Now" link directs you to the product page, where you will get the instructions to access the application.
As far as mobile mapping goes, Google Maps for Android offers one of the best experiences you can get. The feature-fest, which Google has been building on for years, doesn't just tell you where you are using nothing but GPS or cell tower triangulation. It also tells you how to get where you want to go by car, public transport, good old-fashioned shoe leather, and now, by bike. Voice-guided navigation takes you turn by turn, and voice search keeps your typing fingers fresh.
A variety of add-ons layers information on top of the base map, so you can view things like traffic, transit lines, and your favorite places on the map. There's also support for social elites to access Buzz, Google's Twitterlike service for posting status updates, photos included. The Buzz layer makes sense in Maps to geolocate your surroundings, but there's also an interesting overlap with Google Latitude, another Google location-based friend-finding service. When you find what you're looking for, selecting the business gives you options to call, get a street-level view, and switch on turn-by-turn voice navigation--a huge boon if your Android phone runs 2.0 and up of the operating system. The bike layer is a new one to version 4.2; it shows you a range of cycle-friendly paths around the U.S.
We'd like to say that Google Maps for Android has it all, but there's no elegant way to search for nearby businesses a la Yelp, read reviews, add your own review, or add photos.
The application is still developing--we're digging the recently added pinch and zoom provision in the latest OS update--and as it does, it will become an even more reliable go-to app for your navigational and cartographic needs.
Google Maps for Android features My Location to see your location on a map, even if you don't have GPS. Driving directions - you don't even have to enter your starting point. Get routes and schedules to travel via subway, bus, or on foot, or on bike. View street-level imagery of businesses and turns in directions. Real-time traffic helps you find the fastest route. Search for any business or category of interest. Get turn-by-turn GPS navigation with voice output. See your friends' locations and share yours with them. Start Maps and then select Join Latitude. View layers of geographic information (e.g. My Maps, Wikipedia, Transit, Google Buzz).
What's new in this version:
Version 4.2 adds support for cycling directions, home screen shortcut for the driving Navigator, and modules for sharing locations with others.