Google Maps is marking its 15th birthday this year with updates, within iOS and Android, that further enhance how users get around plus explore a destination based on their interests.
I attended a media preview held by Google that featured a step-by-step demonstrations of five new Google Maps’ easy-to-access tabs. They are: “Explore,” “Commute,” “Saved,” “Contribute” and “Updates.”
These tabs all relate to common tasks that users carry out in the app and are located directly at the bottom of your phone’s screen.
With “Commute,” the tab is designed to make sure you’re on the most efficient route, where you’re traveling by car or public transit. Users can set up their daily commute to get real-time traffic updates, travel times and suggestions for alternative routes.
Developed through informative from Google Maps users, “Contribute” makes it easier to share local knowledge, such as details about roads and addresses, missing places, business reviews and photos.
The new “Updates” tab provides a feed of trending, must-see spots from local experts and publishers, like the dining publication, The Infatuation. Along with saving and sharing recommendations with your network, you can also directly chat with businesses to get questions answered.
With “Explore,” you’ll find information, ratings, reviews and more for about 200 million places around the world, including local restaurants, nearby attractions and city landmarks.
“Saved” enables viewing these spots in one place, as well as finding and organizing plans for an upcoming trip and sharing recommendations based on places you’ve been. For example, at the media preview, a Google employee showed a mock planing of a trip to New Orleans had him researching and storing suggested places to visit in this tab.
Google Maps icon will also switch to a multi-colored pin, moving away from the previous map-liked illustration. For a limited time, a celebratory party-themed car icon will appear when you use Google Maps for navigation.
Over the coming months, Google will expand Live View and test new capabilities that will enable users to see the direction they need to walk in instead of turn-by-turn directions. It will also enable users to directly see how far away and in which direction a place is.
To celebrate its 15th birthday, Google will host a NYC Google Maps Experience from Friday, Feb. 7 through Sunday, Feb. 9, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the Flatiron Plaza beside Madison Square Park.
The general public can interact with a physical representation of the new Google Maps icon, which in structure releases a sealed envelope with the press of a button.
The envelope contains a voucher for a complimentary NYC-related experience at a local business. Possible experiences can involve a free Breads Bakery chocolate babka; a free latte from Devocion; a tour of a chocolate factory in Red Hook, Brooklyn; or an Italian dinner in Staten Island that’s cooked by grandmothers.
Do you use Google Maps? Tell me in the comments section how the app has helped you while traveling.