Google Maps 6.5 gets a face-lift, adds public transit features

Google Maps 6.5 for Android adds new features and some crisp new looks (for some users).

Google Maps for Android (download) got a nice face-lift and new features today, as it jumped to version 6.5.

The first thing worth noting is that maps are now quite a bit crisper. While many users may not notice this, anyone with a high-pixel-density screen like that on the Galaxy Nexus or Droid Razr get to see much more clearly defined roads and higher color contrast on their maps. Also, Google rearranged map labels and reduced their size to create a less cluttered map view overall.

Previous map style on the left, with the clearer, less cluttered version 6.5 style on the right. Google

If you have an Android device running Ice Cream Sandwich, then you'll be happy to know that you actually get a bit more of an update, in the form of a shiny new Navigation home screen. The basic controls like Speak destination and Type destination are front and center, and recent destinations are on bottom. And now, you can swipe left or right to go to Starred locations and Contacts.

The new Navigation home screen, as seen on a device running Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Google

Lastly, Google Maps 6.5 didn't just step up its looks. The new update offers a couple of new features that let you prioritize a transit mode and route option when using public transit navigation. For instance, before you pull up directions, you can indicate that you prefer Bus as your transit mode and that you're looking for the route with the fewest transfers. Other route options include Best route or Less Walking.