Much like Disneyland, Google Maps is never going to be truly finished. There’s always work to be done, whether it’s fine-tuning existing features or adding brand new ones. The latest slew of updates announced by Google appears to be a bit of both.
According to Google’s blog, four key features are hitting the Google Maps app. They include a “vibe check,” yes that is the exact phrase Google used, for your destination neighbourhood, “Search with Live View”, the launch of 250 landmark aerial views around the world, and further improvements to eco-friendly routing.
Google Maps can 'Vibe Check' your destination
Let’s start with the "Vibe Check," which I will admit is a phrase I never thought I’d say. But that’s a direct quote, and I can’t think of a better way to phrase the feature without adding a bunch of extra words.
This is a crowd-sourced tool, designed to help newcomers “figure out what’s worth exploring and what the local gems are." In short, if you’re unfamiliar with an area you’re visiting, “vibe check” will highlight things you should try to check out, rather than leaving you to try and figure it all out by yourself, all through information, including photos, submitted by people that (in theory) know the area the best.
It’ll also help you figure out the neighborhood’s vibe, which is calculated with AI and locally-sourced knowledge, to determine what that area is all about. The idea being it can help you make more informed decisions about how to spend your time. Unfortunately Vibe Check isn’t available just yet, and is set to arrive “in the coming months” on both Android and iOS devices.
Live View is getting a major upgrade
Some of you may remember that Live View is Google Maps’ augmented reality navigation tool, which adds directions onto a view of the real world — as seen by your phone’s camera. Now Google’s giving it an upgrade, with the ability to search for things through the Live View interface.
You simply tell Google Maps what you need, launch Live View, and you will see the relevant markers on the Live View display. Because orienting yourself is much easier at street level, compared to the top-down view from a map, and some of the places you need to be aren’t always easy to spot.
Search With Live View will roll out in the coming months in London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo, for Android and iOS devices.
Immersive View begins with 3D landmarks
Back at Google I/O the search giant revealed “Immersive View,” a new way to experience the world with 3D aerial views of famous locations around the world. 250 of those locations are now rolling out, featuring landmarks like Tokyo Tower, The Empire State Building, Athens’ Acropolis, and more.
As previously announced, Immersive View is able to learn about the general trends of an area, calculating how busy it will be at any given time. The 3D view will also let you experience that at street level and look inside local businesses or restaurants. Sadly this is not available yet, and is still down as arriving “in the coming months” to London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.
Eco-friendly routing comes to even more people
Finally, there are changes to eco-friendly routing, which have already had some much-needed upgrades over the past few weeks. But rather than affecting Google Maps proper, Google’s rolling out the tools to third-party developers.
That means apps that navigate through Google, such as delivery or ridesharing services, will be able to enjoy all the same fuel-saving benefits as solo users. The preview version opens later this year, and while it won’t affect the majority of users it should have a notable environmental impact anytime Google Maps is used — no matter which app it’s running on.