AI is everywhere, especially at Google, so it’s no huge surprise that Google Maps is getting some AI-infused upgrades. We already knew about some of these features, since they were announced at Google I/O 2023 in May, but Google has a bunch more stuff in store — and none of it involves creating pictures of cats on unicycles.
Some of these new features are actually rolling out to Google Maps this week. The most exciting of these is Immersive View for Routes, which was announced back in May. The idea here is to merge navigation and Immersive View mode together, allowing users to preview their entire route on a more personal level.
Immersive View for Routes
Because viewing a route from above isn’t a great way to examine that route when you’ll be stuck at street level. Street View can help, but since it lacks turn-by-turn navigation you’re more likely to get lost somewhere in those virtual streets. Immersive view throws it all together with AI-generated imagery that fuses aerial and Street View photos into a 3D render. Which is going to be a lot closer to what you’ll experience from the ground.
Those visualizations will also be able to integrate traffic data, weather forecasts and air quality. That way you can see a rough idea of what conditions will be like and alter your travel plans accordingly.
Immersive View for Routes rolls out this week for Android and iOS, and it is limited to a handful of major cities at first: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, Florence, Las Vegas, London, LA, Miami, New York, Paris, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tokyo and Venice.
Google Maps search gets an AI boost
Searching for stuff in Google Maps is going to get an AI-boost, all to help you find stuff to do in your local area. The AI will be used to analyze user-submitted photos, to gain a better understanding of what a particular business actually has to offer. Google’s example is “animal latte art," and previously searching for this would only search for businesses with a similar name. AI and image recognition means you can find relevant spots, even what you’re looking for isn’t detailed in the typical business information.
Maps will also be organizing local points of interest in a much more convenient way. Looking for “things to do” will offer up collections of similar places of interest. That way your search results are cleaner, and you don’t need to endlessly scroll through locations just to find the type of stuff you’re interested in. The same is true for restaurants and other eateries, helping you filter out the cuisine or establishments you do or don’t want to visit.
AI image recognition comes to Maps in France, Germany, Japan, U.K. and U.S. later this week, while the improved search collections will roll out globally “in the coming weeks”.
Google Maps navigation upgrades
Traditional navigation will also be getting a welcome boost as well, including much needed upgrades to lane details. That way you know where your car needs to be ahead of time, and should prevent you from having to cross multiple lanes of traffic to avoid missing your turn or exit. More realistic buildings are being added to help you better orient yourself in urban environments.
This feature will come to the U.S., Canada, France and Germany and 8 other unnamed countries. Hopefully the U.K. is one of them, because even Google Maps isn’t great at making sure you know what lane your car needs to be in to leave the highway — assuming you want to avoid an unnecessary 20-mile detour.
U.S. drivers will also be able to see HOV lanes along their route in the near future, and AI-powered speed limit information is coming to 20 European countries. All these features will be rolling out “in the coming months”
Lens in Maps is here
Google is also rebranding the “Search with Live View “ feature to “Lens in Maps”. Like Live View itself, this is an augmented reality feature to help you acclimatize yourself with an unfamiliar area — showcasing nearby ATMs, transit stations, restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. Ai is involved but Google hasn’t specified how it plays any impact in the feature.
The rebrand also coincides with an expansion to 50 more cities later this week — including Austin, Las Vegas, Rome, Sao Paulo and Taipei.
EV charging info on the go
Finally EV drivers who don’t have Google built into their car will start seeing more useful charging information in the Google Maps app on Android and iOS. Information includes whether the charger is compatible with your car, what sort of speeds to expect and when it was last used — which should help you avoid broken chargers.
This is also rolling out this week, and will be available in areas where EV charging station data is available.