Google has brought a range of new AI-powered updates to Maps, including features that make it easier for users to search for locations, explore their surroundings using immersive navigation, and seamlessly follow driving directions to get to their preferred destination. The tech giant is seemingly making its user experience more akin to Google Search, which is a good thing for its millions of users worldwide.
Some existing and newly launched features for Maps, like Immersive View, which was announced at the Google I/O in June, are adding support for more cities, while EV-specific features such as suggestions on charging stops, and filters for charging station searches are getting major updates.
Immersive View for Routes, Now Powered by AI
According to Google, Immersive View is an “entirely new way to preview every step of your journey”. The feature allows users to search for routes to their destination, whether they are driving, cycling, or walking, and the Map will preview the destination more accurately in a multidimensional view from the start to the endpoint.
For instance, if a user wants to bike along the waterway to the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, all they need to do is request cycling directions and tap the Immersive Preview option to view their route in detail. The feature will allow users to prepare for each turn beforehand as it shows turn-by-turn directions to their destination more accurately. Users can also use the time slider to get basic information about the destination, like simulated traffic and weather conditions, helping them plan the journey better.
With the help of AI, Google is combining Immersive Views of places with billions of Street Views and aerial images of various landmarks that were uploaded by users to generate realistic direction and location results. The feature helps Map users know what their destination is like before even stepping out of their homes.
Starting this week, Immersive View for routes will be available in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, Florence, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, San Fransisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tokyo, and Venice. The feature is coming to Maps on both Android and iOS.
Driver and EV-oriented features on Android, iOS, and Cars with Google Built-in
For drivers, there are fresh new updates that will add more color and vibrancy to the map, hyper-realistic buildings to better orient users to their surroundings, and improved lane details that come in handy when driving on the highway and in instances where the driver has to quickly cross multiple lanes to catch the exit to their destination.
Drivers in the US will start to get notified about lanes for high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs) on their route, and in Europe, Google is expanding its AI-powered speed limiter information across 20 member states. These features will be rolled out to Android, iOS, and cars with Google Built in the coming months.
EV Drivers will see additional information about charging stations along their route shown on the map. This can include various information like whether the specific charger at the station is compatible with their car, whether the available chargers offer fast, medium, or slow charging, and time-stamps on when the charger was last used so that the driver can make sure it actually works.
Google Lens in Maps for Understanding Your Surroundings Much Better
Google is rebranding its augmented reality (AR) feature “Search with Live View” to “Lens in Maps”. The tool allows users to tap the Lens button in the Map search bar and hold up their camera to find information about the nearest ATMs, restaurants, railway stations, hospitals, and other important landmarks.
The “lens in Maps” feature uses AI and augmented reality to help users quickly get familiar with the locality, whether they are exploring a new city or discovering hidden gems within. Google is expanding the AR tool to include 50 more cities, including Austin, Las Vegas, Rome, Sao Paulo, and Taipei.
New Way to Search in Maps
The Search in Maps is getting a major upgrade and Google is making it easier for users to find specific things in their surroundings. Sometimes users aren’t really sure about where to go or what exactly to do in a city. With a helping hand from AI, Google Maps can now give results based on the users’ questions about a place, revolutionizing the experience of exploring new destinations.
Now, when a user searches for specific things in Maps like the best place to find “animal latte art”, they will get photo-first results of what they are looking for. These results are based on the analysis of billions of photos shared by users on Google Maps, which are then curated by Google’s AI and image recognition algorithms.
By providing a visual list of places, Google is making it easier for users to discover new spots and destinations that give them exactly what they are looking for. In this scenario, if a user sees an image of an animal latte art that they like, they can click on it and the Map will display more information about the coffee shop offering it and also provide them directions to it.
Also if a user doesn’t know exactly what to do in a city, they will be provided with better-organized search results of activities or places near to them. For instance, if a user is in Tokyo, they can simply search “things to do” and Maps will show them suggestions based on the most popular searches for Japan such as “anime”, “cherry blossoms”, or “art exhibitions”. They can tap on the places and navigate to them or save the location for later.
The new way to search in Maps is coming to France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US, this week, with plans to add more countries in the future. The feature will be rolled out to Maps on Android and iOS globally in the coming weeks.