Google quietly released an update for Google Maps on Android today, and while the one noted change isn’t the most exciting we’ve heard of, additional changes under the hood suggest this could be the beginning of seeing apps arrive with support for Google’s Android Beam NFC tech.
The official change is storage related. With this new release, Maps will be more efficient with how it stores downloaded map data. Specifically, it will make sure not to cache images in resolution that’s unnecessary for your smartphone’s display. If you happen to save a good number of offline maps, and have been running low on flash space, consider this your lucky day.
The interesting part is that the app now requests NFC permissions during installation. While showing off the Galaxy Nexus, Google and Samsung talked about “beaming”, the new support for contactless NFC-based transfers of information between phones. You’ll be able to use it to quickly share contacts, or pull up the Android Market page for a game your friend’s playing. During those demos, it was mentioned how you’ll be able to share location data via Beam and have Maps zoom right in to the spot in question. Even though it’s not much use without Ice Cream Sandwich and an NFC phone, it looks like that ability just snuck-in to the latest Maps release.