Home Blog New Google Maps Functionality: Improved Navigation and Social-Distancing Features

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Google Maps continues to elevate the user experience and their technology. In their latest announcement, the search giant shared what users can expect to come in 2021. Stating that they are “on track to bring over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps” in the next year in an effort to simplify the Maps experience. In this blog post, we will share the top new Google Maps functionality and features and how they impact multi-location businesses.

Minimize In-Person Contact with Curbside Grocery Pickup

Service options that account for proper social distancing have become increasingly popular since the COVID-19 pandemic first shook the globe in early 2020. Delivery and curbside pickup continue to remain sought-after options and will likely continue to be utilized for the foreseeable future. 

Google says they will bring helpful shopping information to businesses’ Profiles on Maps and Search, including delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees (if applicable), and order minimums (if applicable). This will roll this out first on mobile Search with Instacart and Albertsons Cos. stores in the U.S. and plan to expand to Maps and other partners in the future. 

Future functionality may also include notifications for when to leave for a pick-up and sharing your arrival time with a store. Your estimated time of arrival will update based on traffic and location. Once you check in on the Google Maps app, the grocery store will bring your order out for convenient, contactless pickup. 

Indoor Navigation Advancements

Finding your way around inside a building you’re unfamiliar with can be difficult. Whether you’re inside an airport, at a transit station, or trying to find your favorite store at the mall, Live View enables you to better navigate to your destination. Live View “is powered by a technology called global localization” and helps Google understand the “precise altitude and placement of objects inside a building” according to the announcement. Live View will feature arrows and text to help guide users to their intended destination.

As of now, Live View is live on both Android and iOS in numerous malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle, and is expected to roll out to select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich in the coming months. More cities can expect to see the same in the future.

See Weather and Air Quality Conditions 

When it comes to weather, Google Maps users no longer need to expect the unexpected. Instead, Google has partnered with The Weather Company, AirNow.gov, and the Central Pollution Board to allow users to see current and forecasted temperature weather conditions in an area. This functionality will launch in Australia, India, and the United States in the coming months, with more countries to come.

Additionally, Google Maps users will also be able to assess the air quality in a specific area to see how healthy or unhealthy the air is. This will enable those with medical conditions to better prepare to spend time inside when the air quality is poor. Both the aforementioned weather updates will roll out on Android and iOS.

Reduce Your Environmental Footprint

In an effort to lower fuel consumption and reduce the impact of vehicle traffic on the environment, Google Maps will build a new routing model with insights from the U.S Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab. To improve your environmental footprint, the updated routing model will optimize your route for lower fuel consumption based on factors such as road incline and traffic. Google Maps will default your route with the lowest carbon footprint when it “has approximately the same ETA as the fastest route”, according to Google.

For users who don’t want to enable this eco-friendly option, you can adjust your preferences in Settings to have Maps always pick the fastest route instead. Google anticipates this feature will launch later this year in the United States and will follow with a global expansion in the future.

Eco-Friendly Routing - New Google Maps Functionality

Image courtesy of Google

Determine How to Get to Your Destination Fastest

Previously in Maps, you had limited options for determining how long it will take you to get to a destination. Those options included driving, walking, taking public transit, and biking. Now, Google Maps users will have the ability to see a wider array of options such as: motorcycle, ride service, bike and scooter share, and more. 

Users won’t have to toggle between tabs but instead will be able to scroll down to see the estimated time it will take to reach their destination for each option. Maps will also “automatically prioritize your preferred modes and boost mods that are popular in your city,” according to Google.

Directions by different Transit Options

Image courtesy of Google

What This Means for Enterprise Brands

As Google continues to update its technology, your brand should also prioritize implementing new features and functionality as they become available to provide a seamless experience for your customers. As always, we will continue to share the latest updates to Google and other search platforms to ensure you communicate accurate information and maintain updated information regarding your business operations in search and on maps. Check our blog often to read what’s new.