Google Maps improvements benefit pedestrians and drivers alike

·Senior Editor
·2 min read

The billion-plus people who use Google Maps every month will see a marked improvement of the navigation app's performance, Liz Reid Google's VP of Engineering, said during Tuesday's I/O conference. Specifically, users will have five new features to look forward to.

First, working with researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Google has devised a way to keep drivers from having to slam on their brakes in unexpected traffic thanks to a combination of machine learning and navigation information. "Every time you get directions in Maps, we calculate multiple route options to your destination based on several factors, like how many lanes a road has and how direct a route is," Google Maps director of product, Oren Naim, wrote on Tuesday. "With this update, we’ll take the fastest routes and identify which one is likely to reduce your chances of encountering a hard-braking moment."

Live View will also soon see a number of enhancements. For one, the detailed street maps feature, which made its debut last August, will be making its way to 50 more cities throughout the rest of this year. Detailed Street provides a bevy of helpful information to pedestrians such as sidewalk widths, street crossing and street island locations, as well as details on nearby businesses.

Speaking of businesses, Google announced on Tuesday that it is expanding its live "busyness" information, traditionally reserved for individual storefronts, out to the neighborhood level. "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," Naim wrote. Really, the system overall is getting smarter. For example, if you now search for somewhere nearby to grab a bite at 8am on a Tuesday, Maps will no longer suggest places that are only open for lunch or dinner, popular brunch spots are right out (because it's Tuesday).

These new features will roll out to Android and iOS Google apps in the coming months.