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Google Maps 4.5 for Android: Adds walker sat-nav, funkier Street View

Google has added a pedestrian sat-nav feature to the mobile version of Google Maps on Android, making it easier for people with no sense of direction to find their way around.

Google has added a pedestrian sat-nav feature to the mobile version of Google Maps on Android, making it easier for people with no sense of direction to find their way around. It's also made improvements to Street View, making the mobile version more similar to that on computers.

Google Maps for mobile has been updated to version 4.5 for anybody with Android 1.6 and above. It has a new beta feature called 'Walking Navigation', aimed at pedestrians. This feature uses GPS navigation to show you more direct routes to your destination, and will take you along pedestrian paths where Google is aware of them. You can turn this feature on by finding your destination on the map, holding your finger over it for a moment, clicking the image that appears, pressing the navigation icon, and then selecting Walking Navigation.

Your phone will now also vibrate when you need to make a turn, so you can turn off voice guidance if you like. The map will rotate as you turn your phone, helping you to orientate yourself. The walking mode uses satellite imagery by default, so you can pick out landmarks along your way.

Walking Navigation is in beta, so it might not always provide up-to-date information or the best walking routes. Google helpfully advises users to 'always be safe and pay attention to road signs, follow signals, and use good judgement about routes that can't be walked'. So try not to walk into any potholes and stay off the motorway.

The mobile version of Street View in Google Maps has also received updated images and smarter navigation. You no longer have to keep clicking arrows to move down a street, but can select areas to move to with a circular cursor, as you can on your computer. You'll need to download an update for the 'Street View on Google Maps' app in the Android market to use this feature.

Finally there's a new Google Maps search bar, at the top of the screen. It provides quick access to the 'Places', 'Layers' and 'My Location' features.