Google is celebrating the 15th birthday of Google Maps in a big way. It’s giving it a redesigned app on mobile (for Android and iOS), a host of new features and even a new logo. Here’s what you need to know.
Five tabs total, 3 new, 2 familiar
When you open the new Google Maps, there will be five navigation tabs at the bottom of your screen, instead of three, designed to make Maps easier to use.
• The “Explore” tab is still there, which shows you things that are nearby, such as restaurants, events (sporting games), hotels, museums, and dog parks.
• The “Commute” tab is also still there, which will continue to tell you traffic information and things like the “fastest route” to your destination.
• The “Contribute” tab is a brand new feature that allows users to add reviews and photos to certain locations and restaurants, which feels similar to Yelp. It’s here where you can also tell other Maps users about missing or wrong details, such as missing roads or signs.
• The “Updates” tab is a pretty neat discovery tool. It provides up-to-date news about “must-see” spots in a specific area. For example, if a restaurant was just featured in a trending story online, the Updates tab will show you.
• The “Saved” tab is also new, but not really — as it effectively replaces the “For You” tab on the old Maps. It still lets you bookmark specific locations that you’ve already been to or want to visit in the future.
A brand new icon
For most users of Google Maps, this will likely the biggest change. The new logo will no longer be a map of an intersection and a pin, but just a pin and a white background. It’ll basically just require frequent Maps users to identify a new-look on their Home Screen, which will take some getting used to.
Some other new features
The new-look icon is a nice paint job. And the additional tabs is Google essentially repackaging features Maps already had, but now making them easier for people to use. The app will have some genuinely new features, however.
Coming this March, Google will give commuters even more information about their impending commute. It introduced “crowdedness predictions” last year, which showed commuters how crowded the upcoming bus, train or subway was likely to be — and this year it’s getting more detailed. The updated feature will show things like the temperature of the bus or train, if there’s security on-board, and if there’s special accessibility seating.
Google is also updating “Live View,” the augmented reality feature in Maps. Live View combined Google Maps’s real-world imagery from Street View and allowed you to look all-around to see your surroundings, as well as your directions, in augmented reality. Now, it’s been updated to run more smoothly so you’ll actually use it.
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