Google Maps Updated With New Look to Make Finding Places Easier

An announced update to Google Maps on Thursday brought a partial redesign that aims to make it quicker and easier for users to find places depending on their usage.


As part of the change, Google Maps will now only highlight points of interest that might be relevant depending on what kind of map is selected (driving, navigation, transit, and so on). For example, gas stations will now show up on the navigation map, while train stations will be prominently displayed when viewing the transit map.

Google has also updated the color scheme and added new icons to help users quickly identify exactly what kind of point of interest they're looking at. Places like a cafe, church, museum or hospital now have a designated color and icon, making it easier to find that type of destination on the map.


Google says it will rolling out the changes to all of its products that incorporate Google Maps, including Assistant, Search, and Earth. The new style will also eventually appear in the apps, websites and experiences offered by companies that use Google Maps APIs, in order to provide a consistent experience. 

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Walking Route Calorie Estimator Removed From Google Maps After User Criticism

Google is removing an experimental calorie estimator from its Maps iOS app, following criticism from users that the feature amounted to unsolicited health advice and could do more harm than good (via TechCrunch).

The feature began rolling out to some users last week and shows an estimate of the calories that would be burned if a selected walking route was taken.


The calorie estimator not only displayed the potential number of calories burned, but also how many "mini cupcakes" they were worth. "The average person burns 90 calories by walking 1 mile," the app states. "To help put that into perspective, we've estimated how many desserts your walk would burn. One mini cupcake is around 110 calories."

Some users reportedly welcomed the feature, but it sounds as if a good proportion of them didn't, as Google has taken the decision to roll it back "based on strong user feedback".



Some user criticism related to an inability to disable the feature, while others questioned its usefulness, given that rates of calorie burn vary widely from person to person, and no context is given about how the estimate is calculated.

Critics also noted that an excessive preoccupation with calorie counting is a symptom of anorexia and other eating disorders, therefore getting calorie estimates every time a route is looked up could have a negative impact on sufferers.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link] For those who found the calorie estimator feature useful, other calorie-counting apps are available, such as CityMapper and MyFitnessPal.


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Google Maps App Update Brings ‘Measure Distance’ Feature to iPhone and iPad

Google updated the Google Maps app for iOS on Wednesday and brought a useful measurement feature to iPhone and iPad that has been available on the Maps web interface for some time.

Maps apps are usually the first port of call for finding out how far away somewhere is and how long it will take to get there via car, public transport, or walking, but these directions rarely reveal the actual distance between points and places on the map "as the crow flies".


With Google's new "measure distance" feature on iOS, however, it's possible to calculate the actual geographical distance between two or more points on the map. For example, it's now possible to measure the mileage in a straight line between two cities.

To measure a distance between two or more points in Google Maps, touch and hold anywhere on the map to make a red pin appear, and tap the name of the place at the bottom of the screen.

Now scroll down and choose "Measure distance", and move the map so that the black circle (or crosshairs) is on the next point you want to add. Then simply tap the blue "Add point" button.

You can continue to add as many points as you want, and the cumulative distance in miles or kilometers will update accordingly in the bottom left. To remove the last point you added, tap the Undo arrow in the top right. And to clear all the points, tap the three dots at the top right and select Clear.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Google Maps Expands ‘Parking Difficulty’ Indicator to 25 Cities Around the World

Google today announced its "parking difficulty" indicator in Google Maps for iOS and Android will now appear in 25 additional cities around the world. The feature was previously available in the United States only.


The simple feature shows a "P" icon with a difficulty level such as "moderate" or "limited," based on how easy it will be to find parking at the destination entered. The feature is based on historical parking data and machine learning.

The following cities support the feature starting today:
  • Alicante
  • Amsterdam
  • Copenhagen
  • Barcelona
  • Cologne
  • Darmstadt
  • Düsseldorf
  • London
  • Madrid
  • Málaga
  • Manchester
  • Milan
  • Montréal
  • Moscow
  • Munich
  • Paris
  • Prague
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Rome
  • São Paulo
  • Stockholm
  • Stuttgart
  • Toronto
  • Valencia
  • Vancouver
Google Maps is available for free on the App Store [Direct Link] for iPhone and iPad.


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Google Search and Maps Apps Gain ‘SOS Alerts’ Feature

Google launched a new feature for its Search and Maps apps today that aims to help users stay on top of events when a natural disaster or other crisis occurs near their location (via TechCrunch).

Called "SOS Alerts", the notifications will appear at the top of Google search results and Maps when a user looks for information about an incident or the affected area.


In the Search app, Google will offer an overview of the incident using maps, relevant news stories, emergency phone numbers where available, websites, and any other information that might be useful. In the event that the user is in close proximity to the incident, Google may also send notifications directing users to further details.

The same information will show up in the Maps app where relevant, for example in search results, with real-time updates detailing road closures and traffic and transit updates.

Google has worked with several organizations to bring the feature to its Search and Maps apps, including the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, and Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Google Maps and Search can be downloaded from the App Store for free.


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Google Maps Gains Local Guides Widget and Transit Transfer Reminders

Google Maps received an update on Wednesday that makes it easier to contribute reviews to points of interest and adds the option to get reminders to make a transfer on a transit journey.

The user contribution aspect comes in the form of a new "Local Guides" widget that allows users to propose new places to visit, to comment on existing points of interest, and upload location photos.


The new widget becomes available when people register to become a Local Guide through the Contributions pane in the app. By signing up, users earn points by adding information to Maps like reviews and photos of venues.

The level-based points system is gamified and users can earn rewards, so guides who get to level four receive three months of free access to Google Play Music and 75 percent off rentals in the Google Play Movie store, for example. More information on Local Guides is available here.

Elsewhere in the new update, Google has added an option for users to receive a reminder when it's time to make a change when following transit directions. The new toggle appears at the bottom of the directions screen, beneath the toggle for a reminder to leave on time.

Lastly, for owners of iPhones that support 3D Touch, Google has added a Peek and Pop gesture to preview list items, such as search results.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Google Maps Now Remembers Where You Parked Your Car

Google yesterday announced a feature to help Google Maps users remember where they're leaving their car once they've arrived at their destination.

The feature is simple enough to activate once you've parked up, and like Apple Maps, if you have your iPhone connected to your car via USB audio or Bluetooth, Google Maps will automatically tag your vehicle's location on the map when you disconnect it.


If your iPhone isn't connected to your car, you'll have to do this manually: Open up the app, tap the blue location dot and then select "Set as parking location" to add it to the map.

Tapping on the parking icon that remains on the map also opens the parking card, which includes options to share the location with friends and view pictures of the parking area.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Google Maps for iOS Gains New Timeline Feature

Google today announced that its popular Timeline feature for Google Maps on Android has expanded to Google Maps for iOS, making it available to iPhone and iPad users for the first time.

With Timeline, Google Maps keeps track of all of the places that have been visited, so users can have a past account of where they’ve been and what they were doing.

What was the name of that antique store I popped into the other day? Where was that coffee shop we discovered on our last vacation? Did I drop off the dry cleaning on Tuesday or Wednesday? Answering questions like these used to take some guesswork (and a great memory). But with Your Timeline on Google Maps, Android and desktop users could quickly revisit the things they’ve done and places they’ve been. Starting today, Google Maps users on iOS can join in on the fun and see a daily snapshot of their life as well.
The Timeline is fully editable, with users able to delete a day, date range, or complete location history at any time. It’s also customizable with different activity types, so users can mark what they were doing and what mode of transportation was being used.

Place cards of locations or businesses that are searched for in Google Maps will include the dates of past visits and can be used to quickly access Timeline information, plus Google also includes an option to receive monthly emails summarizing all of the places that have been visited.

The new Timeline features are available to iOS users starting today.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Google Maps for iOS Gains Directions Widget for Turn-By-Turn Navigation on Lock Screen

Google Maps for iOS was today updated to version 4.30.0, introducing a new Directions Widget that allows Google Maps users to access turn-by-turn navigation directly on the lock screen of the iPhone.

The widget can be enabled by going to the Today View of the Notification Center, scrolling down to the "Edit" button, and then enabling Google Directions. Once turned on, turn-by-turn navigation directions will be available through the widget in the Notification Center, which can be accessed by swiping right on the lock screen.


Today's update also introduces a new Google Maps iMessage app that's designed to let users send their current location to friends and family members without the need to leave the Messages app.

The new Google Maps Messages app can be enabled through the Messages App Store. When installed, it establishes the user's location and then allows that information to be shared right in Messages.

Along with the new widget and Messages app, the new version of Google Maps also includes unspecified bug fixes.

Google Maps can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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Google Maps Introduces New Location Sharing Feature With Real-Time Friend Tracking

Google today announced an update coming to the iOS, Android, and desktop versions of Google Maps will introduce a way for users to share their real-time locations with friends and family. Google's update differs from the location sharing in Apple Maps, Messages, and Find My Friends, which all use one-time location updates and lack real-time sharing features.

In Google Maps on iOS, users will be able to tap into the app's side menu, choose "Share Location," and pick from a selection of approved contacts who will see their current location. Contacts are pulled from existing Google accounts, and users can also send links through Messages to friends who aren't on their contacts list when they need to share their location.


After a user's location is shared, their chosen contacts will see where they are within Google Maps, represented as a small face icon that moves in real-time according to where the sharer is located. A small icon above the compass in the app will remind users that their location is being shared for the period of time they requested, but they can also choose to end sharing early.

Google today posted a video to detail a real scenario where its location sharing feature could come in handy, focusing on the creation of a surprise birthday party. The video also shows off how users can share their car trips with friends, so they can see an ETA on when the sharer should be arriving.


Google said that location sharing will be rolling out worldwide sometime soon. Google Maps can be downloaded for free from the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]


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