Google Maps is a web mapping platform that offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, real-time traffic conditions, and route planning for travelling by foot, car, air and public transportation and more. At this year’s Google I/O, the tech firm has introduced new and improved features to the app to make make it more accessible. It has announced five new updates so you can more easily navigate, explore and get things done.
With the new routing update, Google Maps will reduce your chances of having hard-braking moments like when you are driving and approach a busy intersection, the traffic slows suddenly and you have to slam on your brakes. Maps will now provide you with the fastest routes and identify which one is likely to reduce your chances of encountering a hard-braking moment. It will automatically recommend that route if the ETA is the same or the difference is minimal.
Live View was launched by Google in 2019 and it brings AR to navigation at scale. With the directly update it will be available on the maps interface and you can see helpful details about the shops and restaurants around you, like how busy they are, recent reviews and photos. Additional details like new street signs for complex intersections will be displayed too so you know exactly what road you’re on and which way to go. And if you’re travelling, Live View will tell you where you are in relation to places like your hotel — so you can always find your way back to your home base.
Detailed Street maps
The detailed street maps feature, which launched last August, will soon be available in 50 more cities by the end of this year — including Berlin, São Paulo, Seattle, and Singapore. This will allow you to see where sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian islands are, along with the shape and width of a road to scale. This information can help pedestrians plan the most accommodating route, especially if they’re using a wheelchair or stroller.
According to Google, over 80 million people turn to live busyness information on its platform for specific places to save time waiting in line and stay socially distanced during the pandemic. This feature has been expanded on to show the relative busyness of an entire area, like whether a neighbourhood or part of town is busier than usual. If it’s Saturday morning and you want to explore your city without crowds bogging you down, open up Maps to instantly see busy hotspots to avoid — like the streets near the local farmers’ market. On the flip side, if you want to check out popular parts of town, use area busyness to scope out lively neighbourhoods at a glance to discover interesting things to do.
Soon Google Maps will be customising map to highlight the most relevant places based on time of day and whether or not you’re travelling. For instance, you live in New York and open up Maps at 8 a.m. on a weekday, we’ll prominently feature nearby coffee shops — instead of dinner spots — so you can start your day with a caffeine fix. And if you’re on a weekend getaway, it’ll be easier to spot local landmarks and tourist attractions right on the map. Want more options? Tap on any place to see similar places nearby.
Here is how you can make Google Maps more accessible
The Google Maps users are now allowed to create their own template or accessibility checklist while adding a review to make it more helpful to other users including people with disabilities.
When we visit a place or business we can add which accessibility features a place has — like whether it has a wheelchair-accessible entrance, wheelchair-accessible restroom, wheelchair-accessible parking — by answering questions about the business on the Google Maps app.
While those who are the business owner or manager with a verified Business Profile on Google are allowed to add attributes to their Business Profile on Search and Maps. Besides this Google has also added the assistive hearing loop attribute that will be helpful to people in knowing whether a movie theatre or library, has a sound system that is compatible with hearing aids.
The Accessibility attributed can be made more accessible by using tools such as Live Transcribe, Live Caption, and TalkBack on Android.
Apart from this to make it more noticeable creating public lists on Google Maps is another way tp share knowledge on Google Maps. Lists of places like museums in your city or the most wheelchair-accessible restaurants in your neighbourhood.
Asongfac Lily Rospeen, a Local Guide from the Southwest region of Cameroon, curates lists like her Accessibility Buea list that includes wheelchair accessible banks, hotels, hospitals, bookshops, pharmacies, and supermarkets in her city can be created to curate accessible places on Maps. So taking inspiration from the local guides will make Google Maps more accessible through attributes, reviews and more.
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