Whether you are driving to an unknown city or trying to explore a new eatery in your town – open Google Maps. And you have the entire route guided by the app. Since its launch in 2005, Google has been constantly adding new features to enable easy access to roads across thousands of cities. But now, this particular feature has shifted to being one of the basic highlights of the app.
As the global population is moving towards the urban side, smart cities are experiencing immense pressure on its roadways. In such a situation, Google Maps is serving as a huge data resource, capable of optimising routes for drivers. In fact, several apps such as ‘Flow’ are tapping into data from Google Maps to spot the nearest parking space for drivers in real-time. Although a part of the data comes from sensors on smartphones and parking meters, the app plays a central role.
This year in 2019, Google Maps has come up with innovative solutions to enhance accessibility – and a bit of safety on the streets. If you belong to one of the smart cities where the new features are on – do take advantage of it!
Lime On Google Maps
A recent partnership between bike-sharing startup Lime and Google Maps reflects a smart city-driven initiative. People in 100 global cities across Australia, Europe, New Zealand, South America and the US will now be able to locate Lime vehicles on Google Maps.
The new feature in Maps will not just assist Android device users in spotting a Lime vehicle nearest to them. But it will also provide an estimated time to walk to the vehicle, the price of the ride, battery range and the total journey time and ETA. As for the iOS users, the feature will be launched by the end of August, as per the reports.
Lime considers that the upgraded integration will bring the greatest benefits to the commuters. It will help people explore their cities while reducing the commute time.
Li Fan, chief technology officer and head of engineering, Lime stated, “Here at Lime, we believe in the gift of time, and our scooters and e-bikes offer a convenient and fun way of getting around some of the most congested areas in the world.”
Going further, he continued saying that the new partnership with Google Maps will enable Lime to connect people to their destination faster.
In cities where the service is offered, Google Maps will display Lime as an option from their biking, walking, and transit tab. Users can tap on a Lime and the app will show information about the selected vehicle. In addition, the app will also guide the user with the walking route to the vehicle and riding route with the vehicle in the biking tab.
Google Maps will show the best transit route and therefore optimise route, travel time and cost.
UK Public Transport On Google Maps
In the month of June, Go North West, a major bus operator in the UK has launched its services from the Queen’s Road depot in Manchester. This was followed by a collaborative initiative with transport data specialist Ito World to make exact real-time information available to the users on Google Maps.
The new transit update on the app will assist travellers in making informed travel decisions – in advance or on the go. And this will add to more confidence in using public transport.
The real-time passenger information on Google Maps will go live in the late summer this year. With this, Go North West will be the first major bus operator to bring such a service to the people of Manchester. With the joint effort of Ito World and Google Transit, the UK operator will provide up to date information across multiple channels.
The service is not limited to the city of Manchester. Ito World has been working with the Go North West’s parent company Go-Ahead group at the national level. The aim is that the real-time data from its buses reach the commuter via Google Maps in a seamless manner.
Ito World is involved in providing data conversion and quality improvement services. Its role ensures that the real-time data displayed on Google Maps is reliable and as accurate as possible.
The transport data specialist revealed its mission of delivering a real-life experience at its best, to let the users travel seamless journeys. For the same, they are working constantly, making their networks more integrated and coordinated.
Safe & Easy Roads For Pedestrians
Recently, Google Maps launched an augmented reality (AR) feature called Live View. With it, pedestrians can navigate their way by watching a live video feed displaying directional arrows and street names. It helps in all locations where Street View is available.
The key feature is said to be more intuitive allowing a pedestrian to know where exactly they are standing and where they need to go. This can help them save time and avoid the hassle of determining the path on their own. Moreover, it also eliminates the chances of the pedestrian taking the wrong route.
In light of the fact, this comes as a greater advantage for navigation in places with unlabelled alleys and streets and no proper direction signs.
Currently, the new feature is in the beta stage. But Google Maps intends to make it a permanent characteristic of the app, as per sources. It is being released in stages and ultimately users will have full access to it. In the past few months, Google Pixel users were able to test it. And now, the feature is live on Android and iOS devices that support ARCore and ARKit augmented reality functions.
Besides all, the AR feature even enhances the safety factor. For example, while a pedestrian is navigating, the feature displays real-time surroundings and the possibility of threats. He/she is also safer when not getting lost in unfamiliar areas while the Live View is showing the route.
Despite many benefits, AR navigation of Google Map reportedly has downsides. In the case, if people walk with their phones high (being required) rather than standing in one place, they could accidentally run into objects or other people. In fact, users have also revealed a concern of operating system causing drained batteries.
But as said that the feature is in beta stage, improvements might follow in the later stages.
Preventing Vehicles From Going “Off Route”
After launching the Explore Tab, Google Maps has rolled out “Off-route” safety feature exclusive to India. The new element in the app will alert users if their vehicle or taxi deviates from its route by over 500 meters. As per reports, the initiative is in the trial phase.
Google Maps users can find the “Off-route alerts” in the “Stay safer” menu. However, the menu is accessible only after the destination is selected and before the navigation mode is activated.
The new feature will enhance safety twofold, especially for people travelling in cabs. Because, if the cab driver deviates from the required route towards an unfamiliar location, it will send alerts on the user’s phone. Going further, Google has been working to update Maps with a host of features such as speedometer and support for showing radar locations.
In India, the tech giant has launched three new public transport features in 10 of the largest cities in the country. To name a few, it displays live train status, bus travel times, live traffic and suggestions for multimodal commute within a city. This includes combining public transport with auto-rickshaws.
To conclude, Google Maps and other similar apps are an incredible tool for residents and visitors alike. They have an inevitable role to play in fostering efficient and effective travel system – the lifeblood of smart cities.