Google today detailed all the updates on the way to Google Maps in 2021, and it’s safe to say that this must be a very big year for the app. All updates directed at Maps are based on AI in one way or another, and they will not only help you to orient yourself indoors, but also to find routes that can be more fuel efficient than others. Google Maps will also provide information about the weather and air quality for your destination and more details that will help you organize the withdrawal from the market on the sidewalk.
It is difficult to say which of these features is the most significant addition, but certainly very cool is the Live View input feature of Google Maps. Live View has been providing people with step-by-step instructions outdoors for some time, but now Google is moving it indoors as well. Soon, Google Maps users will be able to use Live View to navigate through places like shopping malls, airports and public transit stations.
So if you’re at a huge airport and you’re looking for luggage or toilets, there’s a chance that Google Maps can help you. To start, Indoor Live View will have a very limited release, as it will be released on Android and iOS with support for a “series of shopping malls” in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle. This functionality is in the air today and, in the coming months, we will see support for airports, shopping malls and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich.
Other important additions on the way to Google Maps are the new layers of climate and air quality. As the names suggest, the climate layer will show the current and predicted weather at a destination or in a city, while the air quality layer will – you guessed it – tell you what the current air quality is at a specific location. These layers use climate and air quality information from organizations like The Weather Company, AirNow.gov and the Central Pollution Board, and both will be launched on Android and iOS in Australia, India and the USA in the coming months.
Then there’s the addition of eco-friendly routes, which essentially give you the option to choose the most fuel-efficient route to your destination. Google says that Maps will determine routes with low fuel consumption taking into account things like traffic congestion and slope of the road, and that, once this feature is implemented, Maps will even use environmentally friendly routes, as long as they have an ETA similar to the fastest route available (something that can be changed in the application settings). We will expect this feature to reach iOS and Android in the United States later this year, with a global expansion to follow.
In addition, Google also says it will implement support for low-emission zones in cities that apply them, letting drivers know if their vehicle is allowed in those zones and offering alternative routes or travel methods, if not. This feature will arrive on Android and iOS in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain and the United Kingdom in June.
Google also plans to start showing all routes and modes of transportation on a “Travel Options” tab, where your frequent travel methods and the most popular among other Maps users in your city will be prioritized. You will also see which methods of transport are environmentally friendly, so this should make choosing a travel method much easier. This feature will be launched globally in the coming months.
Finally, Google will add support for ordering groceries to Maps, adding information such as suppliers, collection and delivery windows, fees and minimum orders to Business Profiles in the Maps app and search results. This will be launched first with Instacart and Albertsons Cos stores. Here in the USA before expanding to other partners. Later this summer, we’ll see a team from Google and Fred Meyer that will allow users to add their grocery pickup information to Google Maps. This pilot program will only be launched at select Fred Meyer stores in Portland, Oregon, but we hope to see it expand into more stores in the future.