Google previewed a handful of new features for Google Maps later this year. In total, the Californian company has more than 100 functions for the software in stock – all driven by advances in artificial intelligence or AI. One of the biggest changes in the curve – bringing Google Maps inside. Google Maps is an essential tool when you’re driving through a new area, navigating a strange city, or checking the opening times of your nearest supermarket. However, Google has announced a host of new features for the turn-by-turn navigation tool to make it even more useful. Using the AI, Google plans to make indoor navigation a central part of the Android, iOS and web apps.
Google has confirmed the changes in a detailed blog post. The new feature called Indoor Live View overlay instructions for your camera’s feed.
Live view is already available outdoors, so Google Map users can hold up their smartphones and follow floating arrows pointing in the direction of the right road instead of using a traditional flat view of a map on their smartphone screen.
As the name suggests, Indoor Live View offers the same functionality. According to Google, this feature allows you to “find the nearest elevator and escalators, your gate, your platform, your baggage claim, your check-in counters, your ticket office, your toilets, ATMs and more”. It sounds like Google has ambitions to replace traditional signposts in shopping malls, department stores, airports and train stations.
While this is likely to be very popular everywhere, it is likely to become even more important when traveling. If you don’t speak the language, it can be a real bladder saver when in a rush to be able to quickly find the toilets in the airport without reaching for the travel guide or Google Translate.
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As always, these new features will take some time to roll out. Currently, Indoor Live View is only available in “a number of malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle”. Locations in Tokyo and Zurich will be available in the next few months. The functionality works on both Android and iPhone. Google plans to support more cities in time.
Another important feature highlighted in the latest blog post is showing weather data overlaid on your current map view. The feature is currently only available in India, Australia and the USA and can provide current and forecast weather conditions. This allows you to see if the impending rain clouds are passing your hiking route or if you are likely to be in the eye of the storm if you continue on your current path.
Google also adds information on air quality so you can view real-time data on air pollution.
Regarding air quality, Google has confirmed that Google Maps is being updated with the latest low emission zones in cities around the world. Locations in the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Germany will be launched first and more will follow.
For its part, Google will prioritize routes based on the lowest fuel consumption in order to encourage drivers to reduce their CO2 emissions. To do this, Google’s clever AI examines high density traffic and the slope of the road to determine which route uses the most fuel. The eco-friendly option is always the default when the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) is roughly the same. Google will let you know if the greenest option might take a little longer to reach your goal.
This option will land in the US sometime later this year. An expansion to other countries is planned in the future.
Dane Glasgow, Vice President Product at Google Maps, summarizes the AI-driven improvements planned for Google Maps and writes: “16 years ago many of us had a printout of instructions in one hand and the steering wheel in the other to get around. without information about the traffic along your route or details of when your favorite restaurant was open.
“Since then, we’ve pushed the boundaries of what a card can do, powered by the latest machine learning. This year we’re well on our way to bringing over 100 AI enhancements to Google Maps so you can get the most accurate, up-to-date information about the world when you need it. “