Google wrapped up its developer conference for 2018 in Mountain, California, but the news will surely continue now that software has been announced and some is becoming available. During Google I/O 2018, the search giant and AI-focused tech conglomerate introduced a bunch of significant upgrades coming to Google Maps. A lot of things were brought to our attention during the keynote and throughout the three-day show, and we want to sum up everything important in one post that makes sense of all the new features. Not all the upgrades will roll out at once, though some of the smaller functions we’re getting our hands on now for testing.
Diving into Google Maps, there’s quite a bit to discuss and a lot we are yet to examine, so bear with me as I try to break things down into simpler terms. During the keynote address, Google first demoed a few expansions to current features available for use in the app cross-platform. Some of these being, better wait time predictability for restaurants, improved parking-ahead predictability, and more accurate estimated time of arrivals. These feature upgrades will roll out over the course of the year with some design changes to enhance and modernize the app experience for simplicity purposes. Now onto the bigger stuff.
Google’s entire conference revolved around AI and machine learning, which has always been available to developers and scientists but is only now being turned into a useful tool that can be leveraged by people all over the world. Google is trying to provide that tool in as many ways as possible so that it grow with time and use. This was a major emphasis of this year’s show. Many applications and Google services are now taking better advantage of the technology, one being Google Maps, which has come a long way in the mapping of rural and isolated areas around the world.
Along with some design changes, the over 1 billion users of Google Maps will soon see a brand new tab labeled “For You.” This will be up front in the Google Maps app for Android and iOS, and will comprise matches (locations, places etc.) based on your experience and distance traveled. Google records this data if you grant permission, and uses it to make recommendations catered to you that sync with your Google account. Most of these are local sites and Google will even show you a match percentage (%) for each based on the information it has accumulated from you. The higher the ranking of the match, the more of a fit it is for your tastes. For example, if Google learns that you love burgers, it will provide matches derived from that and your previous visits. With each recommendation will be a probability percentage that you’ll like the suggestion so you can pick and choose according to risk. This is super cool but a bit scary at the same time, which has always been the case for some Google features, but even more so now with machine learning at the helm.
The “For You” tab is not the only tab being added in Google Maps. Soon, there will be a new ‘Explore’ section as well. This tab will allow users to browse nearby events, dining options and activities going on in the local area. Users will also be able to narrow the options by specific area and have Google Maps categorize the top things to do and most popular attractions for the particular place. Next up are shortlists. These can be shared between friends and family and are a collection of possible places to attend. For example, if you and your friends are looking for a place to eat at Saturday night, a shortlist can be created and everyone can vote on the places they believe is best. This will be integrated right within Google Maps, and collaborators can even add their own options to the shortlist if they want.
The next feature or collection of features shouldn’t surprise anyone. Google Assistant is coming to Google Maps, just like the many other places it’s coming to. In Maps, Google Assistant will be active in the background of navigation starting this summer. Very much like the experience one gets on Android Auto, the Google Assistant can send along text messages over voice, turn up the music, play one of your podcasts, or give you information about whatever you need all right then and there without the navigation being disrupted and the app changing screens. I feel like we’ve needed this for a while, and in the not so distant future, we’ll have it.
Last but certainty not at least, Google Maps with the help of Street View will gain Walking Navigation using your phone’s camera. Personally, I’m really excited about this, especially after it was demoed in various sessions during the conference. This feature will work outdoors initially by pin-pointing your location to an extremely accurate position. This has been possible by advancements made in Google’s Visual Positioning System that use your phone’s location and GPS to learn where you are. All happens so quick, and before you know it, Google can route you where to go in real-time, while you’re walking. This means no more looking at that small blue dot that’s always jumping around the screen.
At launch, Google will even include a few AR tour guides to point you in the right direction and lead the way to whichever location you’ve set your phone to go to. Most of these will be animals that are placed in the real-world environment. In the future, Google’s hope is that users will be able to point their phone at various locations such as a storefront, and get virtual information to overlay the environment on-screen in real-time. This all works because your phone will know your exact proximity. You’ll then be just a tap away from looking at ratings, the menu of a restaurant and calling for a table with no copying or pasting of any addresses or names between apps needed. This will all be done using your camera and Google’s AI for contextual and visual awareness.
How do you feel about all these features? Let us know your favorite in the comments and we’ll keep you posted once more features start hitting our devices.
Stay tuned to none-other than Droid Turf for all coverage out of Google I/O 2018, as we’re your one stop destination for extensive coverage of the Android Ecosystem.
SOURCE [Google Maps]