Google announced a major update to Google Maps, which is already available in the Google Play Store and is expected to arrive in the App Store soon. The new Google Maps makes exploring the world and finding where you need to go much faster and easier. The company also announced that it will be bringing Google Maps to iPad for the first time since it was released in December for the iPhone.

The new Google Maps builds on the design that was released for iPhone last December, and includes some useful search and navigation features. Google’s blog outlines the new additions to Google Maps quite nicely. These include:

  • Explore: A way to find new places without having to type. Just tap the search box and you’ll notice cards displaying places to eat, drink, sleep and shop.
  • Enhanced navigation: On top of current traffic conditions, Google has two features to help navigate around traffic. You’ll now be able to see reports of problems on the road which you can tap on to see incident details. While you’re driving, Google Maps will also alert you if a better route becomes available and reroute to get you where you need to be faster. This feature is available only for Android right now, but will be coming soon to iOS.
  • Designed for tablets: Google says the larger screen “makes exploring the world from the comfort of your living room much more fluid, smooth and fun.”
  • Reviews, Zagat and Offers: Google Maps will now include a 5-star rating system that lets you see how your friends and others like restaurants, bars and cafes that you’re looking at. To get a more professional opinion, the Zagat badge of excellence and curated lists are integrated into search results so you can also choose from the top spots wherever you are.

Google also announced the end of Latitude and check-ins for Google Maps.  Instead, location sharing and check-ins have been added to Google+ for Android, and will be coming soon to iOS.  My Maps has also been excluded from this release, but will return to future versions of the app.

When it’s released for iOS, Google Maps will work with devices running iOS 6 and higher.