It does not happen often that Google is celebrating. But 15 years of Google Maps and yes, its a party. As a way to show happiness, Google has made sweeping changes to the Maps App. It is now a social media app with a kick ass Explore nearby… tab.
Changes in main screen
The screen is divided in different sections neatly laid out.
- Explore section is the default which is the home page of the app
- Commute will take you to the navigation and directions section
- Saved is all about lists, events, reservations, saved maps and so on
- Contribute is a dedicated button for Local Guides
- Updates is place for your messages and a place for collected information
- Explore places tab shows the nearby similar options
- Search tab on top includes the Account and options with the mic button
- Map buttons, Map type, your location and Go button prominently displayed
Where do people commute to…of course to work. So in just two click, Google Maps will show the fastest route to workplace with ETA. You can even speak directly to Google Search to take you to work. But this option is also to give you a detailed info on the route and congestion patterns and so on.
The first major upgrade to Google Maps long time back was the Lists. That time it was just the bright yellow star which showed places marked by you as reminders to visit or the important stop overs. With this upgrade, lists are now shared over Google Maps. Means that if your list is public, you get a choice to make a shared list public and also to allow others to edit a list.
This section contains timeline and visited places. Apart from lists, there are other tabs. Labeled tab contains Home and Work as default. More labels can be added. Reservations tab synchronizes with Calender and Gmail to mark places on Map.
The next tab of Following shows how close Google Maps is to becoming a social media app. This tab allows you to follow places which in future will push updates and notification to you through this app. Saved maps also come in this section.
The Contribute section is now exclusively for Google Local Guides. This program is growing by leaps and bounds. Anyone posting a review on Google Maps is offered to be part of Local Guides program. It is a reward system based on points and levels. Also one more thing.
Please don’t drool over my stats!
The last tab on the bottom is the tiny bell icon with a red dot on top indicating new notifications. Updates section is divided into Messages and For you. The ‘For you’ section gives list, suggestion and recommendations from local guides. Updates from news and websites will also come here. Trending comes to this section and it is features endless scrolling so that you can never run out of options.
The tab of ‘Explore nearby’ has its origins in the ever confused human mind. We look for options, we love to look around. And so for the wandering mind, Google has given the nearby option. Based on the present location or what you have searched, the suggestions keep pouring in here. The neatest arrangement here is that this section keeps itself ready, if you ever want to explore. As you keep changing locations or moving the map, this section keeps updating itself.
All options now move to the top right corner, contained within the search bar. The accounts option now features across all Google Apps. In this section one can control Incognito mode, see the timeline, location sharing, offline maps and settings. If your phone has Google My Business app, the link to You Business Profile is also shown here. And finally the map settings. Through this button, we can access multiple Google Accounts if they are installed on you smartphone.
Google Maps app has come a long way past 15 years. It is now more activity and more engagement. There is a reward for Local Guides. And endless suggestions for users too. You navigation app just went social.