Google is rolling out new updates to Maps as part of its plan to make the navigation app more immersive and intuitive for users, the company announced today at its event in Paris.
Notably, the company announced that Immersive View is rolling out starting today in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. First announced by Google at I/O in May 2022, Immersive View is designed to help you plan ahead and gain a better understanding of a city before you visit it. The company plans to launch Immersive View in more cities in the coming months, including Amsterdam, Dublin, Florence and Venice.
The feature combines billions of Street View and aerial photos to create a digital model of the world. It also superimposes information on top of the digital model, such as details about the weather, traffic and how busy a location can be. Let’s say you’re planning to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and want to get an idea of it before you go. You can use Immersive View to virtually hover over the building to get a better idea of what it looks like and where the entrances are located. You can also see what the area looks like at different times of the day and what the weather will be like. Immersive View can also show you nearby restaurants, and you can look inside them to see if they’re an ideal spot for you.
“To create these lifelike scenes, we use neural radiation fields (NeRF), an advanced AI technique, that converts ordinary images into 3D representations,” Google explained in a blog post. “With NeRF, we can accurately recreate the entire context of a place, including the lighting, the texture of materials and what’s in the background. All this allows you to see if a bar’s moody lighting is the right mood for a date night or if the view in a cafe makes it the ideal spot for lunch with friends.
The company also announced that a new feature called “Glanceable Directions” will be rolling out globally on Android and iOS in the coming months. This feature allows you to track your journey directly from your route summary or lock screen. Users see updated ETAs and see where to take the next turn. If you decide to take a different path, the app will automatically update your journey. Google notes that this information was previously only visible by unlocking your phone, opening the app and using the enhanced navigation mode. Clear directions can be used when using the app whether you are walking, cycling or using public transport.
Google also announced that it will expand Live View Search to more places in Europe, including Barcelona, Madrid and Dublin, in the coming months. The Live View Search feature allows you to use your camera to find essential places such as shops, ATMs and restaurants when you are on the go. Say you are in an unfamiliar place and you want to find the nearest ATM, you can lift your camera and search to instantly see the ATMs nearby. Google recently launched Search with Live View in London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Tokyo.
In addition, the company’s Indoor Live View feature is expanding to more than 1,000 new airports, train stations and shopping malls in cities around the world, including London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona, Prague, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Sydney , Melbourne, São Paulo , Singapore and Taipei in the coming months. First launched in 2021, the Indoor Live View feature uses AR-powered arrows to point you in the right direction, helping you quickly find the nearest restrooms, lounges, taxi ranks, car rentals and more.
Finally, Google is adding new features for EVs with Google Maps built-in. Soon users will be able to find stations with chargers of 150 kilowatts or more. Maps also show users when places such as a supermarket have on-site charging stations. In addition, Maps starts suggesting the best stop based on key factors such as current traffic, your charge level, and the expected energy consumption during any trip that requires a charge stop. Google says all of these new EV features will roll out in the coming months.