Google Maps has been the top dog among map and navigation apps for years. Even so, the creators do not rest, but continue to develop the service. However, some functions are not immediately accessible to every user. Often right or exclusive deals prevent the distribution of certain features - on the 15th birthday of Google Maps, however, some popular functions are now finding their way to the devices of all users. In this article, COMPUTER BILD gives you an overview of the latest innovations.
Google Maps: New logo
The most obvious innovation should be the logo: Google wants to symbolize the further development of Google Maps with a colorful navigation pin. "At first we just showed you the way - now we are helping you to discover and experience new places [...]", Google writes on the in-house blog. Sounds nice, but: The balloon-like logo looks like a bent Google-G. As a result, after the update, some users tried desperately to find their app among all the others on the screen of their smartphone and simply overlooked it. So that you as an avid Maps user do not despair or get lost on the wrong path, just take a look at the following picture. You will quickly get used to the airy logo.
Not every user of the navigation app likes the new Google Maps logo. But that is a matter of personal preference.
Google Maps: New interface
The new interface is much more important anyway. The “Hamburger” button (the three horizontal lines one above the other) and the main menu in the sidebar now replace five buttons (“button bar”) at the bottom: “Discover”, “Commute”, “Bookmarked / Saved”, “Contribute” "And" Current / New ". There you will find functions for adding your own content, a link to your own locations as well as information and ratings for more than 200 million locations worldwide. The functions from the previous sidebar move to the user menu, in which, among other things, the user can change accounts or call up incognito mode in the future.
Google is redesigning the surface of its navigation app “Maps”. The menu at the bottom has new buttons, and the user menu has also grown.
Google Maps: AR navigation with Live View
The 15th birthday brings not only changes to the operation and design, but also new functions: The augmented reality function “Live View” is now available on all iOS and Android smartphones with ARKit or ARCore. The special feature: navigation services usually use the GPS signal - Google Maps also uses the camera and augmented reality (AR, "augmented reality"). This is much more precise, and notes and virtual objects can be displayed in the camera image. Thanks to the AR function, Google Maps knows where the user is looking and displays the appropriate navigation information. An algorithm permanently analyzes the camera image and recognizes buildings, street corners and signs. The whole thing is somewhat reminiscent of Nintendo's “Pokémon GO”. Thanks to the arrows displayed, users should be able to identify the direction to be taken more easily. The service obtains the data required for this from the 360-degree recordings from Google Street View. At the Google I / O 2018 developer conference, the group gave an outlook on the new AR navigation function for Google Maps. So far, however, only selected local guides have had access to the feature: These are users who feed Google Maps with photos, reviews or background information and answer questions from other users.
Google Maps: More information on public transport
Last but not least, there is also something new in Google Maps for customers of local public transport: From March 2020, they will receive some more or less relevant information before boarding the bus, train or subway. Google provides information about the temperature inside as well as the existing safety precautions, such as security guards, cameras or the emergency call system. In Germany, however, Google Maps should initially only show whether a means of transport is barrier-free. The information comes from passengers who were previously on the same route.
Google Maps: Timeline function incognito new
Via the timeline, Google Maps meticulously logs where you were and when and expands the list of places you have visited accordingly. If this is not to happen as an exception, the incognito mode has been available to Android users for a while - now it can also be used by iOS users. To switch the function on, tap on your user picture in the top right corner of the app and then on Activate incognito mode. Google Maps no longer remembers any locations until you turn the activation off again. Haven't you used incognito mode before - and so does Maps now list places you've visited that you'd rather not think back to? Then you should like another function with which you can conveniently delete several entries in the timeline in one go. It will be updated to the Android app shortly and will probably also be available for the iOS version at a later date.
The best tips for Google Maps
Google Maps: It's getting lighter
Thanks to Google Maps, the times of haphazard wandering in unknown surroundings are largely over. The navigation app can be found on almost every smartphone and guides users all over the world to their destination via GPS signal - in the car, on the bike or on foot. However, stumbling blocks lurk in practice. Especially when you are out and about at night, Google Maps often leads you through poorly lit streets, sometimes in dubious areas. This should probably end in the future. Technologists have found information about a function in the source code of the current beta version of Google Maps that provides information about street lighting. So far, the feature has been simply called "Lighting" and highlights well-lit streets at night with a yellow shade on the virtual map. So you can decide whether the suggested route seems safe to you or whether you would prefer to consider a better-lit alternative. However, it remains unclear whether and, if so, when Google will actually implement the fresh feature in the app. It is quite conceivable that this is a function that is rejected after internal test runs. So far there is no official statement on this. Accordingly, it also remains unclear how Google intends to record the lighting status of a street in real time.
Google Maps: speed traps, speed limits, obstacles
Without any major announcement, the search engine company integrated a new function into its Google Maps app for Android smartphones at the end of May 2019: users in 43 countries report mobile and stationary speed cameras, including Italy, Hungary, Russia, Brazil, Great Britain and the USA. In the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), the feature was initially not available due to the legal situation. Now users in Germany also have the option of reporting accidents and traffic delays as well as speed traps directly from their mobile phones - even on their iOS devices. As with the Waze navigation app acquired in 2013, Google Maps obtains the data mainly through crowdsourcing. That means: users report the speed cameras independently in the app. Users now also collectively feed information about lane closures, objects on the roadway and other obstacles into the map service. In some countries, the police also inform the service. Google Maps also shows speed limits in Great Britain, Denmark and the USA - this function may also appear soon in Germany.