Google IO was busy with a load of announcements today, and one of them had to do with Google Maps. The app is set to receive a bunch of neat feature updates in the coming months.
First off, detailed street maps, which launched last August, are now headed to an additional 50 more cities by the end of the year, including Berlin, Sao Paulo, Seattle, and Singapore. These maps show you where sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian islands are, along with the shape and width of roads to scale. This can help you choose the most accommodating route for walking.
The Google Maps… map is also becoming more personalized, as it’s being tailored to highlight only the most relevant places based on time of day and whether or not you’re traveling. This is meant to help you not be overwhelmed at the sheer number of places on the map. In the city you live, for example, if you open up Maps at 8 am, you’ll see coffee shops instead of dinner spots. And if you’re traveling, it will be easier to spot local landmarks and tourist attractions on the map.
Next up, Google is expanding the reach of the feature that gives you busyness information. Up until now, this has been telling you about how busy a specific place is. But in the future you’ll also get busyness information for entire areas, like whether a neighborhood or part of town is busier than usual. You can simply open up Maps to instantly see busy hotspots to avoid, or on the contrary – hunt for the busiest spots to scope out lively neighborhoods at a glance.
If you get around on foot, and are exploring a new neighborhood, you’ll be able to access the augmented reality Live View right from the map – no need to jump into directions for it to pop up. It will also give you helpful details about the shops and restaurants around you, like how busy they are, recent reviews, and photos. For complex intersections, you’ll get helpful new street signs, so you know exactly what road you’re on and which way to go. And if you’re traveling, Live View will tell you where you are in relation to your hotel, making it easier to find your way back.
Finally, Google wants to cut down on hard-braking, the phenomenon that happens when you’re driving as you approach a busy intersection when the traffic slows suddenly and you have to slam your brakes. According to research performed at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, these moments can be a leading indicator of car crash likelihood. So Google wants to make them a thing of the past.
And thus, “soon”, Google Maps will reduce your chances of having to hard-brake along your drive thanks to machine learning and navigation information. The app will give you the fastest route that is likely to reduce your chances of encountering a hard-brake situation. This will be recommended if the ETA is the same as other routes or the difference is minimal. Google thinks this change has the potential to eliminate 100 million hard-braking events in routes driven with Google Maps each year.