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Google Maps is getting a big upgrade that will make your life easier

Google Maps
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Back at Google I/O in May, the company announced Google Maps would be getting its own version of Apple Maps’ Flyover feature. Immersive view, as it’s known, promises to offer a 3D aerial view of major cities. And Google says it's not starting to roll out, but it won't happen all at once. 

The first stage in rolling out Immersive view to the masses is to offer aerial views of major world landmarks. According to Google’s latest blog post (opens in new tab), it’ll be adding “photorealistic aerial views” to almost 100 landmarks in cities across the world — specifically Barcelona, London, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo. 

google maps aerial view feature in action

(Image credit: Google)

While the launch of these landmark views means Google Maps is one step closer, Apple Maps’ Flyover feature still has the upper hand for the time being. Apple Maps lets you navigate full 3D versions of entire cities, while Google Maps is only rolling out the ability to explore specific landmarks.

But a small step forward is still a step forward, and it’s likely we will see the rollout of additional Immersive view features in the coming months. 

Google has promised that this will eventually let users explore 3D versions of real cities, and in some select locations explore interior locations in 3D — something Apple currently doesn't offer.

Right now Google’s angle is that this feature will help you prepare for your next trip. The idea being that you can check out the major landmarks, and the immediate area, from the comfort and safety of Google Maps. All you need to do is find a landmark and head into the photos section of the menu at the bottom of your screen.

This feature is rolling out across the globe right now, and will hit Android and iOS devices. So it’s not going to be available for everyone right away. 

I’m running the latest version of the Google Maps beta on Android, and it’s not available for me either. That means we’re all just going to have to be patient, and wait a few days for the roll out to gather some momentum.

But that’s not all that’s coming to Google Maps right now. Cycling route information is getting an important upgrade, letting cyclists see different route options and a breakdown of the routes themselves. That way you’ll know what sort of route you’ll be taking, including what sort of elevation changes are involved and whether you’ll be heading down a major road or some sort of side street.

google maps shared location notifications

(Image credit: Google)

Shared location is also getting an update that lets you set up notifications. If someone has already shared their location with you, you can tell Google Maps to notify you when they reach their destination or if they leave a specific location. That way you can all keep tabs on each other without having to constantly watch a live location feed.

Google has made it clear it’s considered some of the privacy implications, which is why the person being tracked has to willingly share their location first. They’ll also get multiple reminders that their location is being shared, and have the option to block others receiving notifications if they wish.

Tom Pritchard
Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.