Tech

Google Maps is getting major upgrades, including AR indoor navigation

Updates include new Live View features, the most eco-friendly routes, and food collection scheduling.

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We’ve come a long way

When it was first launched in February 2005, Google Maps was rather simple. Today things are very different. Google Maps currently takes up 13 percent of all of Google's search entries. In other words, this digital map app gets close to 260 billion searches on annual basis.

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Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Google just announced that it will introduce major upgrades for Google Maps, including an augmented reality (AR) feature that helps people navigate indoor spaces, options for eco-friendly routes, more details on pickup orders, and other tweaks.

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Imagine you're in a labyrinthine airport and you’re lost. One of the latest upgrades in Google Maps adds AR to the mix, which gives real-time information and physical directions inside buildings. This update to Live View uses artificial intelligence to go through billions of Street View photos with the goal to provide a Maps user the most accurate information whenever they need it. Plus, the arrows are cute.

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Yet another upgrade takes information from the United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab to give you the most eco-friendly route. The model will look for the optimal route which involves less fuel consumption. Google Maps will give you an estimate of the CO2 emissions for the route, too.

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Low-emission routes go live for Google Map users in June but it's limited to a few countries at first. If you're in Germany, Spain, France, the Netherlands, or the United Kingdom, keep an eye on your Maps for the upgrade this summer.

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You can also compare different routes based on how environmentally sustainable they are... or aren't. In this upgrade, Google gives you a look at car, public transit, bike, and rideshare options with indicators on the approximate carbon emissions of each.

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Google Maps is also expediting the process of deliveries and curbside pickups by giving users information on how long it will take, applicable fees, and if there is the option to use Instacart instead.

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In Portland, Oregon, Google Maps is partnering with the Fred Meyer supermarket, a division of Kroger. This upgrade will notify you about your pickup order and lets you also check into your parking spot to inform the vendor that you’ve arrived.

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We saved the bad news for the end. These upgrades won't be launched uniformly across the board yet. AR indoor navigation will work in some places in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, and Long Island for now. But it’s a start...

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Live View directions are only working in parts of Tokyo and Zurich for the time being. Map layers that give information about air quality are only working in Australia, India, and America at the moment. But the good news is that you won't have to wait long. Google says it will introduce these improvements to broader markets soon, so sit tight.

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