Google Maps has introduced a redesign that prominently solicits users’ reviews and photos of places they visit, seeking to grow its data in a field led by local search apps such as Zomato, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. More than 1 billion people now turn to Google Maps to see and explore the world, the company said.
In addition to these features, and many more like them, Google has opened a research lab in Bengaluru to focus on computer science research in India. It has also partnered with Vodafone-India to bring Google Assistant to people living in areas with poor Internet connectivity.
These are some of the new features that Google has launched in India in the past couple of months. But did you know India has been a source of inspiration for Google for a long time? Over the years, the company has not only launched products, like the Google Bolo app, for its users in the country but it has also taken inspiration from the country to improve and add new utilitarian features to its existing products and services. And one of the best examples for this is the company’s navigation app — Google Maps.
Apple ‘s maps app, which launched seven years ago, takes a different approach by incorporating reviews and photos from services such as Yelp.
Among the new product updates that Google announced were features related to helping people stay informed when they make use of public transportation. Google last year introduced crowdedness predictions to help users see how crowded their bus, train or subway is likely to be based on past rides.
While the former gives information about unique routes that are inaccessible by car and trucks to the bikers, the latter one suggests users routes for their rides along with the estimated fare, allowing commuters to make the most of their journey.
Similarly, Google Maps also has special modes for train and bus transit. The navigation app has a Bus Travel Times from Live Traffic feature that tells users how long their bus ride will take. This feature is based on the live traffic conditions and it is available in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Chennai, Mysore, Coimbatore, and Surat. The Live Train Status for Indian Railways Trains feature, on the other hand, live-tracks a train and informs users when the train will arrive on the platform.
India is a country with a rich cultural heritage. There is a landmark at every corner. To make it easier for users to explore these spots and find restaurants, Google Maps has a Landmark-based Navigation feature, which shows users major landmarks in their route, and a Dining Deals feature, which enables users to find and claim dining deals at restaurants around them. This feature is available in 11 cities across India including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad.
But that’s not it. Google has also launched features that make commutes safer and easier. The app has a Stay Safer feature that alerts users using public transport when their vehicle goes off route. It also allows them to share the live status of their trips with their friends and family. It also features support for 10 Indic languages, including Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Nepali, which allows users to see points of interest and road names in two languages. But the app also has a bunch of other features that were launched to cater to the requirements for the people in the country.
The Offline mode, for instance, enables users to use the app — get turn-by-turn directions, search for specific destinations, and find information such as hours of operation, etc — even in the areas where there is no internet connection. The Mixed Commute Mode, on the other hand, is specially designed for commuters in India who take multiple modes of transport to travel between two locations.
The company has sought to turn a profit on that investment by increasing ad sales throughout Google Maps, and having users be able to rely on it for data on places and transit would expand advertising opportunities.