Google Updates Maps, Inbox And Wallet With Cool Features - InformationWeek

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01:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Google Updates Maps, Inbox And Wallet With Cool Features

Google has added a number of new features to its mobile apps for Android and iOS devices.

10 Google Milestones: From Stanford Dorm To Alphabet
10 Google Milestones: From Stanford Dorm To Alphabet
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Google is always tinkering with its mobile apps and pushes out updates to at least a half dozen of them each week. But in recent days Google has launched some especially interesting and useful features to core apps Google Inbox, Google Maps, and Google Wallet.

Google Inbox has a great little tool called Trip Bundles, which is a collection of emails centered on a specific trip. For example, if you plan to fly to Las Vegas in January for the Consumer Electronics Show, Trip Bundles will collect all the email items pertaining to your trip and package them together. This way, you can easily find details regarding your flight, hotel, ground transportation, dinner reservations, and more -- all in one spot.

The latest update to Inbox makes it possible to share Trip Bundles. The summary of each trip can be sent to anyone, like your boss, so the basics of your trip are accessible at any time. What's more, Inbox now allows people to tag email messages that aren't automatically included in Trip Bundles so they appear alongside the others. Inbox now also lets you add photos to email easily with a revised mobile attachments screen that calls up your most recent images. Google said the new version of Inbox will reach Android and iOS devices in the days ahead.

(Image: Kurt Drubbel/iStockphoto)

(Image: Kurt Drubbel/iStockphoto)

The iOS variant of Google Maps picked up a few features in its latest update that put the app in parity with the Android version. Maps now displays when places are at their busiest. For example, if you like to grab a latte around 10 a.m. each morning, Google Maps for iOS will let you know that 10 a.m. is a happening time at your local coffee shop and there may be a long wait when you arrive.

Maps for iOS now includes up-to-date gas prices for nearby gas stations, too, so you know what to expect at the pump. Last, Maps for iOS allows users to save maps for offline use. You can download Google Maps for iOS here.

[Read Walmart Jumps Into Crowded Mobile Payment Market.]

Google Wallet gained one new tool in a Dec. 10 update that lets users send money via text. Google Wallet is not meant for making mobile payments at retailers any more. Instead, the app helps manage the Google Wallet debit card. It can also be used to pay your friends, family, and colleagues.

Google Wallet users need only enter a phone number into the "Send Money To" field and Google will push a link to the recipient via text. The recipient clicks on the link and in that way adds the money to his or her own debit card. This way, you can more easily pay your coworkers back for lunch.

Google Wallet also has improved contact suggestions, the ability to link a second bank account, and a security tool that lets users lock the app with a quick tap. Google Wallet is available to Android and the iPhone.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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