Google Maps is getting a whole array of improvements to its navigation and the information it provides, Google announced today. First off, the company is improving Live View, the augmented reality navigation feature, which lets users see navigation directions overlaid on top of the real world.
Now, this feature is becoming more useful in indoor locations, so instead of just finding places while walking outside, Google Maps can guide you inside places like airports and malls. The feature is available now in some malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle, and it means you'll be able to see things like which elevator to take if you need to go to a different floor. In the next few months, it's also launching in airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich, with other cities coming later.
Another big addition to the feature set of Maps are the new weather and air quality layers. Both are pretty self-explanatory, allowing you to see weather information for a specific area, as well as the air quality in the region. This should make it easier to plan ahead for trips, and while the weather layer is going to be available globally, the air quality layer is coming to Australia, India, and the U.S. first, with other countries coming later.
Google is also rolling out some eco-friendly features in Maps. For starters, when choosing a route to a specific destination, you'll be able to see a recommendation for the most fuel-efficient, thus most eco-friendly route, instead of simply choosing the shortest or fastest one. This feature is launching in the U.S. later this year, though wider support is also planned. Google is also adding alerts for low-emission zones in cities that have them, letting users know if their vehicle is allowed in the area and if they need to work around that. This is coming in June to Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the UK.
Beyond driving, Maps is also going to include a new way to see the estimated trip times for all different kinds of transportation modes available in a single page, including indicators for which ones are the most environmentally-friendly. The service will learn from trends as well as the user's preferences, so the most used means of transportation will be ranked higher in the list of options.
Finally, Maps is getting improvements for order deliveries and curbside pickup. For one thing, businesses can add information related to their pickup and delivery services, such as times, providers, and fees, to their profile in Maps, making it easier for users to choose their preferred method. This is starting to roll out in Google Search on mobile in the U.S. - specifically with Instacart and Albertsons Cos. stores - but it's also coming to Maps and other stores later.
There's also a pilot program with Fred Meyer supermarkets to help users pick up items at the store. After placing an order for pickup in the store's app, Maps will alert users to leave when it's time to leave to pick up the order, and when they get there, users can check-in and specify their parking spot to make it easier for the store to deliver their items to them. This is coming in the summer, and there's no word on wider availability.