In 2020, Google Maps celebrates 15 years of helping people across the globe navigate the world around them. To mark the occasion, the app has unveiled its biggest update yet.
Alongside a redesigned logo and an updated user interface, there are loads of new features to make getting from A to B easier than ever.
A New Logo
Let's start with the most obvious: the new Google Maps logo. You'll instantly know when your Google Maps app has been updated when you see the old logo (which looked like a snippet of road) transform.
The new logo has been designed in the shape of Google's iconic location pin, placed on a white background. The pin-shape is created by placing multiple, smaller location pins together, each varying in colour in line with Google's classic red, blue, green and yellow colour scheme.
Google Maps Tabs
As soon as you open up Google Maps, you'll be met with a brand-new interface. Now, there are five unique tabs sitting at the bottom of the app instead of three: Commute, Explore, Saved, Contribute and Updates.
Explore was a pre-existing tab from the older version of Google Maps, and it's the go-to place on the app for discovering places of interest. You can see what's currently nearby, or search for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, supermarkets and even ATMs. Over 200 million various locations can be found on Google Maps, including landmarks and must-see attractions. You can view opening times, read reviews and see ratings at a glance too.
Commute is the second tab, and it'll enable you to set up your regular route to and from work, so you can check for updates in a matter of seconds. Designed to save you time in the morning, you'll initially be asked to enter both your home address and work address, and then select which days of the week you'll make the commute. You can also select your preferred mode of transport, or allow Google Maps to find the quickest route for you on the day. Once everything is set up, all you'll need to do is tap the Commute tab, and select either 'To work' or 'Go home'.
The Saved tab, meanwhile, helps you to access your most loved places quickly - even when you're offline. You can create lists to help you plan visits to new cities in advance, add labels such as 'Home', 'Gym' and 'Work' to save time when looking for new directions, and you can even view any upcoming reservations or location-specific plans that you've added to your Google calendar, or have stored in Gmail.
You can save individual routes, or even entire areas (such as Cambridge or Leeds) for use offline, so you'll always be able to explore cities on Google Maps, even if you're struggling to connect to the internet.
The Contribute tab is a place for you to share your personal experiences and knowledge of places you've already visited. Here you can help to improve the information available on Google Maps by adding reviews, photos and making suggested edits to businesses, roads and addresses.
The fifth and final tab added to the new interface is Updates. Tailored to you, the Updates tab is essentially a news feed that features new businesses in the area, trending/popular locations and any changes to existing places which Google predicts you'll like. There's also a messaging tool available that'll let you chat directly to businesses, so you can have your queries answered before you visit.
Improved Public Transport Updates
Whether it's the bus, train or the metro that you frequently use, you may notice some new information about your journey thanks to the new Google Maps update.
Google started helping users to learn more about their upcoming journey in 2019, with the addition of Crowd Prediction. This enabled users to discover how busy their train or bus was going to be, based on estimates provided by other users, helping people to plan accordingly if the service was deemed full. For 2020, Google has expanded on the information available - selected services will now show information on the temperature on-board, whether or not the service is wheelchair-accessible, and updates on whether security (such as guards or CCTV) is available.
Additions to Live View
Live View is an augmented reality feature, and its abilities have been expanded with the 2020 update. Live View is an AR-fuelled version of Google Maps, and provides an alternative to the regular 2D map that's usually available.
When Live View is activated, you will be able to see two things: a smaller 2D map of your route at the bottom of the screen, and a visualisation of the world - with real-time directions added on top - in front of you. Only available to pedestrians, Live View makes use of Street View data, machine learning and the sensors on board your smartphone to provide an interactive view of your journey. You'll be able to see arrows and a dotted route to guide you to your destination on the screen, as well as the distance left to travel.
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