Geek Culture

Google Maps Celebrates 15th Birthday With A Slew Of New Updates

Though it might seem like aeons ago, it actually wasn’t all too long ago that travelling to a new place for us meant having to fumble around with transit maps or a big picture map that you hold with one hand while trying to control the steering wheel with the other. 

It is truly impressive how far we have come since the introduction of Google Maps in 2005. Now, 15 years later, all we have to do is simply type into our app or desktop a destination and Google Maps will bring it up for us to either check for directions or explore nearby restaurants in the area you are interested in. 

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In 2019, Google has even introduced Live View into Google Maps, which uses augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and your smartphone’s camera to show you your surroundings with directions overlaid, showing you exactly where you are supposed to go. Though however, it is currently still in beta and Google says it does not have any time frame in mind to release Live View officially as of yet. Currently, they feel that they still want to continue improving and growing the feature, such as making it work just as well in both the day and night. 

To celebrate its 15th birthday, Google has announced several new updates for the Google Maps, including an updated Google Maps app, a new Transit Feature, and a new icon

From March 2020, users will be able to enjoy an updated Google Maps app on both Android and iOS, giving them all the features they need right at their fingertips with five easy to access apps.

  • Explore: With the Explore tab, users will be able to find information, ratings, reviews and more on over 200 million places around the world, including places such as restaurants, local attractions and city landmarks. 
  • Commute: This tab is here to ensure you are on the most efficient route to your destination, regardless of whether you are travelling by car or public transport. Through this tab you will receive real-time traffic updates, estimated travel times, and suggestions for alternative routes. 
  • Saved: If you’ve found a restaurant or retail shop that you really will like to visit again, then you can simply save the location and it will appear on this tab. Aside from that, the Saved tab can also be used to organise plans and share recommendations. 
  • Contribute: Over 20 million users contribute to Google Maps through photos, feedback, and reviews. This helps to keep the maps fresh and up to date. Through the new app, you too can easily share your knowledge on local roads, photos, and reviews to help others learn more about your neighbourhood.
  • Updates: This new tab provides you a feed of trending, must-see spots shared by local experts. It’ll also inform you of new restaurants in your neighbourhood or a change in commute method. 

Aside from a refreshed Google Maps app, Google is also adding a new Transit feature to the app that helps users to stay informed when taking public transport. The feature was first introduced last year with just the crowdedness prediction function which informs you of how crowded your bus, train or subway will be. 

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Now Google is adding five new insights for you to plan your route better. 

  • Temperature: We all know that riding in a warm cabin never makes for a good commute so now you can check in advance if the train or bus you are about to board is on the colder or warmer side
  • Accessibility: If you have special needs or require additional support when commuting then this feature will be an important one for you as you will be able to identify public transit lines that are able to provide staffed assistant or have accessible entrances and sitting. 
  • Women’s Carriage: You can now get insight on whether the public transport you will be taking will come with a designated women’s section or women’s carriage that others have to abide by.
  • Security Onboard: You can now find out whether there are safety monitoring on board such as a security guard present or security cameras installed for a safer journey.
  • Number of Carriages Available: A feature that is only available in Japan, users will be able to plan their route according to the number of carriages on a train so as to increase their chances of getting a seat.

These features will come from riders who will share their experiences via a short survey within the Google Maps app. Google will be rolling these features out globally in March, with availability varying by region. 

Also, in celebration of their 15th birthday, Google has released a new icon for Google Maps, one that they feel reflects the evolution they have made in mapping the world. It is based on a key part of Google Maps, the pin, and “represents the shift we’ve made from getting you to your destination to also helping you discover new places and experiences”.

It seems like these 15 years has been an incredibly fruitful one for Google Maps and we can’t wait to see what else the next 15 years has in store for us from Google Maps. 


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