Google's new flagship phone - the Nexus S running a stock version of Gingerbread (Android 2.3) - has just seen its first over-the-air update, pushed out to most device owners at some point yesterday. The update, which upgrades the phone to version 2.3.1 of the Android mobile operating system, is mostly bug fixes, or so reads the update description provided by Google. But it also includes the newest version of Google Maps (ver. 5.0) - the version that introduces 3D mode and offline features.
If you haven't received the update yet - don't despair - it's being pushed out on a rolling basis. There's also a trick to force the phone to receive the update notification, if you just can't wait: dial *#*#checkin#*#* on your phone.
At only 1.9 MB, this update may not even be worth noting, except for one feature: the latest version of Google Maps.
Google Maps 5.0
Of course, if you're like most early adopters (and really, who else has a Nexus S at this point?), you probably already went to the Android Market to grab the new version as soon as it was released, a date which coincided with the Nexus S's launch, actually.
But if you perhaps forgot about the new Google Maps, here's a reminder: it does 3D! For over 100 cities worldwide, you can drag two fingers downward across the display to change the mapping perspective to a 3D mode. In this mode, buildings become tilted in an angled view.
Where avaialble, you can also enter into 3D mode from compass mode, the mode which shows you which direction you're headed on a map.
The other notable update included in Google Maps 5.0 is a feature which stores maps locally to your handset itself. This is useful for times when you're in areas where there's little to no cell coverage, but could also be handy when traveling. You could download the maps in advance or via Wi-FI, then shut your data connection off so as not to incur additional charges while roaming.
Some Bugs Fixed, but Others Created
If you haven't yet upgraded to the latest version of Maps, the Nexus S OTA update will have you excited. Otherwise, as far as we can tell, it's minor bug fixes alone.
According to early tests the update does not appear to address some of the phone's known issues, like blurry/low resolution MMS messages, for example (believed to be a T-Mobile issue). It also appears to affect Swype, an add-on replacement keyboard app. Some people are reporting that Swype returns to a limited functionality mode and the way to fix this is to uninstall then reinstall the app. Although, in other cases, a reinstall didn't appear to fix the issue either (let us know what your experience is.)
However, other reports state that the update does address the slight browser lag issue which some users have experienced.
If you're looking for a full list of system files patched by 2.3.1, the XDA-Developers forum has the details here.