Just as the world starts to look forward to being able to travel more widely again, Google has announced some exciting new upgrades to Google Maps, which it will be rolling out over the coming weeks and months. Aside from these updates, Google says that it is on track to bring over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps.
First, Google Maps has announced Indoor Live View – where a phone user can point their phone camera at their surroundings and Google will overlay directions such as "go down one level" in an airport to help people get around. Previously Live View directions only worked outdoors, but Indoor Live View is available now in some malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. Google says that the feature will start rolling out "in the coming months" in select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich, with more cities to follow.
The next upgrade that Google Maps is introducing is an eco-friendly directions mode so that you can choose the most fuel efficient route to your destination. If the eco-friendly route has a similar journey time to the fastest destination route then Google Maps will default to eco mode; otherwise you'll be able to manually select it to prioritise the environment over saving time. Eco friendly directions will come to the US first before rolling out globally after that.
"What we are seeing is for around half of routes, we are able to find an option more eco-friendly with minimal or no time-cost tradeoff," Russell Dicker, a director of product at Google, said (reported by Reuters (opens in new tab)).
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Google Maps will soon also let you know when you are travelling through low emission zones – useful info if you're in a vehicle which will have to pay a charge to travel through such zones. The UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain will be the first countries to get this functionality when comes to Android and iOS in June with more countries receiving the update after that.
Another upgrade that is coming to Google Maps is a weather and air quality overlay (shown above). According to Google, when you search for directions, you'll be able to see current, hourly and weekly weather forecasts on the map. These layers are powered by data from companies and organisations including The Weather Company, AirNow.gov and the Central Pollution Board and Google says that the weather layer will be available globally and the air quality layer will launch in Australia, India, and the US, with more countries to follow.
All the above upgrades will be coming to the Android and iOS versions of Google Maps but Google has not announced a precise timeline for when each upgrade will be rolled out so just keep an eye out for updates in your app store of choice.