Google Maps just got a massive free AI update

Google Maps immersive
(Image credit: Google)

If you're a Google Maps user on iOS or Android, Immersive View for routes should appear in your app over the next few days. The feature, which provides actual images of the route you'll be taking, is only available in some cities to begin with: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, Florence, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tokyo and Venice.

In addition to the images, Google has another fun feature up its sleeve: Immersive View has a time slider that you can use to see what the weather is likely to be like or how heavy the traffic is likely to be.

Some of the other updates are less apparent but arguably even more useful.

Google Maps updates: what's new and where it's available

Google is also updating its AI-based searching, which powers the Live View in Google Maps. That's the feature that enables you to point your phone camera at the area around you and see where the nearest cash machines, coffee shops, fast food outlets and other useful places are. The feature, now called Lens in Maps, is coming to more than 50 new cities including A​​ustin, Las Vegas, Rome, São Paulo and Taipei.

Maps has also changed its searching to provide what Google calls "photo first" results based on photos shared by Google Maps users. That feature starts rolling out to the UK and US this week.

For now the most significant update isn't available in the UK, but it's rolling out in the US, Canada, France and Germany. It's a map update that delivers more realistic buildings, new colour coding, better lane details when driving and more speed limit information across Europe. Google is also providing much more information for EV drivers to help find appropriate charging points – so you'll know in advance not just where the charger is but how fast it is and whether it's currently down.

The more accurate and useful mapping features are rolling out over the next few months, and because they're server-side you don't need to do anything to get them: provided you keep the Maps app up to date you'll get them as soon as they arrive for your area.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (