Google Maps is the world’s most popular navigation client – it is is available on desktops in addition to Android and iOS smartphones.
Google regularly updates Maps with new features and improvements – three of which recently arrived and are available for some fans to use right now.
Without further ado, here are three of the best new functions for Google Maps.
Google Maps AR
Google Maps AR was released in beta form for Google Pixel devices earlier this year – as the name suggests, the feature harnesses augmented reality technology to overlay directions on a user’s camera feed within the app.
The mode means users will never have to spend precious time trying to figure out if they are facing the right way before beginning a journey.
Google Maps AR can only be harnessed when walking – a button to activate the function is present next to the traditional navigation button within the app.
The American tech giant recently declared it was extending Maps’ AR functionality to Android and iOS devices that support ARCore and ARKit.
Google said: “There’s nothing like exploring a city on foot–it’s a great way to take in the sights and sounds of a new place.
“But it can be hard to know exactly which direction to go. With a beta feature called Live View, you can use augmented reality (AR) to better see which way to walk.
“Arrows and directions are placed in the real world to guide your way. We’ve tested Live View with the Local Guides and Pixel community over the past few months, and are now expanding the beta to Android and iOS devices that support ARCore and ARKit starting this week.”
Improved transit features
Back in June Google announced it was rolling out new transit features to Maps to deliver live traffic delays for busses and crowdedness predictions.
The former means Google Maps should be able to predict travel times based on real-time conditions, meaning they should be more accurate overall.
Moreover, the app should now inform users if they will be able to get a seat on a method of public transport.
Combined, both features make using Google Maps for transit even more useful than before.
Discussing the additions, the Mountain View company stated: “Google Maps is launching live traffic delays for buses in places where we don’t already have real-time information direct from local transit agencies.
“You’ll now be able to see if your bus will be late, how long the delay will be, and more accurate travel times based on live traffic conditions along your route. You’ll also see exactly where the delays are on the map so you know what to expect before you even hop on your bus.
“There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being packed like a can of sardines on a hot, sweaty train. We’re introducing transit crowdedness predictions so you can see how crowded your bus, train or subway is likely to be based on past rides.
“Now you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to squeeze on, or wait a few more minutes for a vehicle where you’re more likely to snag a seat.”
Discovering great food is easier than ever before
Google recently started rolling out a new feature to Maps on Android that allows users to see a restaurant’s favourite dishes with relevant photos and reviews.
The feature is set to arrive for Apple devices soon and should make choosing good food when out and about easier.
Google has been eager to highlight the function is made possible by user contributions and its signature machine learning algorithms.
The firm explained: “Whether you’re craving a tea cocktail in Brooklyn or sampling Pacific Rim cuisine in London, Google Maps now highlights a restaurant’s most popular items on the menu, so you can place your order with confidence.
“The popular dishes feature is powered by a machine learning algorithm that matches dish names, provided by Google Maps users, with relevant photos and reviews. This creates a handy arrangement of a restaurant’s most popular meals right at your fingertips in Google Maps.
“Simply pull up a restaurant on Google Maps to find its popular dishes in the overview tab. Feeling extra peckish? Dive into the menu tab to scroll through all the most-talked about meals, and tap on a popular dish to explore reviews and photos. In a country where you can’t read the language? Maps will also translate the reviews for you too.”