Google Maps is on track to launch more than 100 AI-powered improvements this year, including indoor Live View, weather conditions, eco-friendly transportation options, and curbside grocery pickups.
The updates aim to provide users with “the most accurate, up-to-date information about the world, exactly when you need it,” according to Google Maps’ VP of product Dane Glasgow.
Indoor Live View
Launched in 2019, Live View guides folks through confusing cities or unfamiliar towns by overlaying virtual arrows and digital directions on real-world views. After adding landmarks to the augmented reality function in October, Google Maps is expanding Live View’s reach by taking it indoors.
Whether you’re looking for the nearest elevator or restroom at the mall, trying to find your platform or ticket office at a transit station, or hunting for baggage claim or an ATM at the airport, Google Maps will point you the right way.
Indoor Live View is available now at a number of shopping centers in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle; it will land in select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich next, before rolling out to additional cities in the future.
A new Google Maps weather layer means you’ll never get caught in the rain without an umbrella. Turn on the feature to quickly see current and forecasted temperatures and conditions, as well as how healthy (or unhealthy) the air is.
Powered by data from The Weather Company, AirNow.gov, and the Central Pollution Board, the layer will hit Australia, India, and the US in the coming months, with more countries to come.
Photo via Google
As part of a commitment to help people reduce their environmental footprint, Google Maps will soon default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same estimated time of arrival as the fastest option.
If the green alternative significantly increases your ETA, Google invites users to compare the relative CO2 impact and make their own choice. Always want the fastest route? Simply adjust your preferences in the app’s settings. “With insights from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, we’re building a new routing model that optimizes for lower fuel consumption based on factors like road incline and traffic congestion,” Glasgow wrote.
Google Maps is also showing solidarity with cities’ established low emission zones by alerting drivers when they’re navigating through an area that restricts polluting traffic. “You can quickly know if your vehicle is allowed in the area, choose an alternative mode of transportation, or take another route,” the blog explains.
Sustainability is about more than driving, though. Whether you’re a walker, cyclist, or subway rider, Maps will automatically prioritize your preferred modes of transit, and provide a comprehensive view of all available routes and methods to your destination.
Eco-friendly routes launch in the US later this year; low emission zone alerts are coming this June to Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the UK; and sustainable options will roll out globally “soon.”
Curbside Grocery Pickup
Despite rising numbers of COVID-19 vaccines and the reopening of local shops and restaurants, many people have settled into the lockdown lifestyle—including delivery and curbside pickup. In response, Google is adding details like delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees, and order minimums to stores’ Business Profiles. The feature is launching on mobile Search with Instacart and Albertsons Cos. in the US, with plans to expand to Maps and other partners.
The firm is also teaming up with supermarket Fred Meyer to pilot grocery pickup in Portland, Ore. Place your order and add it to Maps to receive a notification when it’s time to leave; you can also share your real-time ETA and check in upon arrival for “seamless, fast, no-contact pickup.”