Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Google Maps Immersive view


Google Maps is getting a few new features that should make it easier for users to find what they want. The app now lets you search for the phrase ‘things to do’ and will tell you some popular activities around you, like visiting a nearby art exhibition, for example. It also expanded Immersive View, which lets you virtually travel through a city, to more locations, and improved the results it provides when users search for an EV charging station.

More than one billion people use Google Maps each month, and the added options may help it continue to stay ahead of Apple Maps, which has seen rapid improvements in recent years.

The company said Thursday that artificial intelligence allowed for improvements to Google Maps’ EV charging station feature, more specific recommendations of nearby activities and more in-depth visualization. Many of the new features use neural radiance fields, an AI subset that allows for using 2D images to construct a 3D scene.

“AI has really supercharged the way we map,” Chris Phillips, VP and general manager of Google’s Geo, or geography, division, said on a call with reporters.

New ways to search for things to do

Google Maps is offering new ways for people to search for activities to do near them as well. The company noticed how often users were typing generic phrases such as “things to do” in a given area, and now they will get an information return with more specialized information.

Instead of getting a random list of activities near you, Google Maps will return a categorized list of activities grouped by topic. So, Google said, if you search for things to do in Tokyo, you will get responses such as “anime,” “cherry blossoms” and “art exhibitions,” and you can get more granular from there.

The updated EV charging feature in Google Maps.


More on EV

The company is bolstering its EV charging station feature this week, allowing drivers to see when a charging station was used most recently in order to decrease the chances of them driving to a station that does not work.

The function also allows for drivers to see how fast the charger is and if their car is compatible, though those are not new tools.

“As we think about the future of navigation, we know that a big part of that future is electric,” Miriam Daniel, VP and general manager at Google Maps, on the call.

More in-depth visualization features

Google Maps is also expanding its Lens in Maps feature to 50 more cities this week. That function was previously known as “Search with Live View” and allows people to use their phone camera to scan nearby buildings. The camera parses through billions of photos and tells you the store name, reviews and other applicable information of objects it sees.

Google Maps will also have better visualization for its navigating features. Its Immersive View, which Google Maps announced in May, is expanding to more cities, including Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. It allows users to virtually travel through a planned route.

In the coming months, according to Google, 12 countries will have access to better visuals of buildings and lanes for drivers to see while on their route. In the U.S., there will soon be a way for users to check whether their journey has highways with carpool lanes.

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