Google has announced a range of new features coming to the Google Maps app over the coming weeks and months.
These new features aim to deliver more information about unfamiliar parts of town before and during your visit, in the form of live data from user reviews, info delivered via augmented reality, and a set of new 3D aerial views of hundreds of global landmarks.
Arguably the most interesting of these is the so-called ‘vibe-check’, where Google Maps users can get a feel for a new part of town before visiting. Coming to the app soon, the feature draws on photos and reviews submitted by users, of places like cafes, restaurants and art galleries.
Google says a massive 20 million contributions like this are added by users to its maps every day, then artificial intelligence is used to work out what’s worth using to outline the vibe of an area. Google vice president Chris Philips explains: “Say you’re on a trip to Paris – you can quickly know if a neighbourhood is artsy or has an exciting food scene so you can make an informed division on how to spend your time.”
Another update, which is rolling out to Google Maps right now, is called Immersive View. This features 3D, photorealistic aerial views of famous landmarks. Over 250 are available at launch, including the Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis, and the UK’s Houses of Parliament. These digital fly-bys appear when you search an area, giving a dynamic view of what that city’s most famous landmarks look like.
Immersive View also uses predictive modelling and historical data to estimate how busy places like restaurants and bars will be at the time of your visit. The system also helps with finding parking options and shows a weather forecast in a bid to help plan your day. Google says this element of Immersive View will arrive in the coming months in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo, for both the Android and iOS versions of Google Maps.
Next up is an update to Google Maps’ use of augmented reality. An expansion on the Live View feature, which uses a smartphone’s camera and arrived back in 2019, the update integrates a search feature with this augmented view of your surrounding area.
Google explains: “Say you’re heading to an outdoor market and need to take cash out. With search with Live View, simply lift your phone to search and instantly see ATMs in an area.” The system also works with places like coffee shops, food stores and public transport stations. It’ll roll out in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo, for Android and iOS, “in the coming months,” Google says.
Lastly, Google is expanding its eco-friendly routing so that developers who use Google Maps data in their own applications, like Uber and food delivery companies, can see the most fuel-efficient route depending on their vehicle and engine type.