Author Archives: Lat Long

Try these new Google Maps voice commands on your next road trip

As we approach the end of the year, many travelers will set out on holiday road trips to visit family and friends, near and far. Whether you’re driving solo, or don’t want to assign navigator duties to your passengers, it just got easier to get around while keeping your eyes on the road with new voice commands that are simpler than ever to use.

For the ultimate hands-free and eyes-free experience, first make sure you’ve got the latest versions of the Google Maps app and Google app for Android. Then, the next time you enter navigation mode or driving mode, you can simply say “Ok Google” followed by a voice command, without needing to tap or even look at the screen. You’ll always know when voice commands can be used in Google Maps by looking for a white microphone icon in the top right corner.

When you say “Ok Google”, the microphone will activate and you’ll see a circle with bouncing dots – indicating that your voice command is being heard. For example, try saying “Ok Google, find gas stations”, and see what happens. You can tap the circle to cancel an ongoing command. If for some reason you want to use a non-hands-free alternative to saying “Ok Google”, tap the microphone and simply say “Find gas stations”.

To make sure you have things set up correctly, tap the overflow menu (the button with three dots), then tap “Settings”, and finally, tap ““Ok Google” detection”. The “While driving” setting allows you to say “Ok Google” during navigation in Google Maps. If you’d like to do this anywhere on your device, you’ll need to enable the “Always on” setting (on some devices, the setting is called “From any screen”). And if for some reason you’d like to turn off “Ok Google” detection entirely throughout your device, you can do so by toggling the settings to the off position.

Once you’re all set up, the possibilities are endless. In addition to tried-and-true voice commands like “What’s my next turn?” and “What’s my ETA?”, you can now do things like “Show / Hide traffic”, “Mute / Unmute voice guidance”, and even “Avoid tolls / highways / ferries”, with just the sound of your voice. If you anticipate traffic, you can say “How’s traffic ahead?” or “Show alternate routes”. And if you want to add a little fun to your drive, you can say “Play some jazz”, “Send a text”, or maybe even “Call mom”. Here’s a cheat sheet with more of the voice commands you can use in Google Maps. Safe driving, and happy road tripping!

Posted by Raghu Simha, Product Manager, Google Maps

Source: Google LatLong

Walk the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine like the pros with Street View

Earlier this year, Turner Sports approached us with an idea: Help us change the way golf fans experience the sport’s biggest event of the year, the Ryder Cup. Always up for helping users go where they’ve never gone before, we loaned Turner a Street View Trekker. They hit the links to collect hole-by-hole imagery at Minnesota’s Hazeltine National Golf Club, site of this year's tournament starting today through October 2.

Over two days, the team covered the 160-acres course.

Randy Dickerson, of Turner Sports, gets ready for his first trek. Randy and team carried the 40lb camera over the 5+ mile golf course at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Not to be outdone by past Street View collects captured by snowmobileboat and zipline, the Trekker hitched a ride on a golf cart.

Explore the images on Google Maps, or walk the course like the pros using the Hazeltine Explorer, an interactive tour developed by Turner and Ubilabs. Along with 360-degree views, the site, built with Google Maps APIs, features custom elevation graphs for every hole, integrated video highlights and course-specific historical moments.

Fans attending the event can also make use of the Ryder Cup app’s Wayfinding feature, available on Android and iOS. Built using Google Maps APIs, the feature includes a detailed view of the course with routing instructions that account for walking paths and crosswalks. The map also displays information about on-course amenities and facilities. 


Posted By: Vanessa Schneider, Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach

Source: Google LatLong

Always know which way you’re headed with this Google Maps update

One of the basic features of the Google Maps app is the ability to open the app and find out which direction you're facing in a matter of seconds. To make orienting yourself even easier in Google Maps for Android, we've replaced the direction arrow on your blue dot with a shining blue beam – think of it as a flashlight guiding your travels.

The beam also tells you how accurate your phone’s direction is at any given time. The narrower the beam, the more accurate the direction. The wider the beam, the more likely it is that your your phone’s compass is temporarily uncalibrated, which means that its sensors aren’t working as they should be. This can happen by doing something as simple as charging your phone or walking by a metal pole, which most of us do everyday. Thankfully, there’s a really easy fix. Any time you want to get back on track – not just when you see a prompt or notification – simply move your phone in a figure 8 motion a few times. This should immediately result in a more accurate direction.
Once you master the curving motion, you’re one step closer to having a more accurate compass when you use Google Maps on your Android phone.

Posted by: Raja Ayyagari, Product Manager, Google Maps

Source: Google LatLong

Mapping global fishing activity with machine learning

The world’s oceans and fisheries are at a turning point. Over a billion people depend on wild-caught fish for their primary source of protein. Fisheries are intertwined with global food security, slave labor issues, livelihoods, sovereign wealth and biodiversity but our fisheries are being harvested beyond sustainable levels. Fish populations have already plummeted by 90 percent for some species within the last generation, and the human population is only growing larger. One in five fish entering global markets is harvested illegally, or is unreported or unregulated. But amidst all these sobering trends, we're also better equipped to face these challenges — thanks to the rise of technology, increased availability of information, and a growing international desire to create a sustainable future.

Today, in partnership with Oceana and SkyTruth, we’re launching Global Fishing Watch, a beta technology platform intended to increase awareness of fisheries and influence sustainable policy through transparency. Global Fishing Watch combines cloud computing technology with satellite data to provide the world’s first global view of commercial fishing activities. It gives anyone around the world — citizens, governments, industry, and researchers — a free, simple, online platform to visualize, track, and share information about fishing activity worldwide.

Global Fishing Watch, the first global view of large scale commercial fishing activity over time

At any given time, there are about 200,000 vessels publicly broadcasting their location at sea through the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Their signals are picked up by dozens of satellites and thousands of terrestrial receivers. Global Fishing Watch runs this information — more than 22 million points of information per day — through machine learning classifiers to determine the type of ship (e.g., cargo, tug, sail, fishing), what kind of fishing gear (longline, purse seine, trawl) they’re using and where they’re fishing based on their movement patterns. To do this, our research partners and fishery experts have manually classified thousands of vessel tracks as training data to “teach” our algorithms what fishing looks like. We then apply that learning to the entire dataset — 37 billion points over the last 4.5 years — enabling anyone to see the individual tracks and fishing activity of every vessel along with its name and flag state.
An individual vessel fishing off Madagascar

This data can help inform sustainable policy and identify suspicious behaviors for further investigation. By understanding what areas of the ocean are being heavily fished, agencies and governments can make important decisions about how much fishing should be allowed in any given area. Often, fish populations are so depleted that the only way to ensure they are replenished is to create “no take areas” where fishing is not allowed. Our hope is that this new technology can help governments and other organizations make decisions about which areas need protection and monitor if policies are respected.
Kiribati's Phoenix Island Protected Area transitioning from heavy tuna fishing to a protected area.

Partners have already started using Global Fishing Watch and have committed to providing additional data sources for greater impact:

  • Indonesia’s Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs, Susi Pudjiastuti, has committed to making the government’s Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) public in Global Fishing Watch in 2017. Ibu Susi has been a progressive leader for transparency in fisheries with other governments now expressing similar interest to collaborate.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations will collaborate on new research methodologies for reporting spatial fishery and vessel statistics, building on Global Fishing Watch and developing transparency tools to support their member states in improving the monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities.
  • Trace Register, a seafood digital supply chain company, has committed to using Global Fishing Watch to verify catch documentation for its customers such as Whole Foods.
  • Bali Seafood, the largest exporter of snapper from Indonesia, has teamed up with Pelagic Data Systems, manufacturers of cellular and solar powered tracking devices to bring the same transparency for small scale and artisanal fishing vessels, into Global Fishing Watch as part of a pilot program.

We’ve also developed a Global Fishing Watch Research Program with 10 leading institutions from around the world. By combining Google tools, methodologies, and datasets in a collaborative environment, they’re modeling economic, environmental, policy, and climate change implications on fisheries at a scale not otherwise possible.

Global Fishing Watch was not possible five years ago. From a technology perspective, satellites were just beginning to collect vessel positions over the open ocean, and the "global coverage" was spotty. There has been tremendous growth in machine learning with applications in new fields. Policy and regulatory frameworks have evolved, with the United States, European Union, and other nations and Regional Fishery Management Organizations now requiring that vessels broadcast their positions. Market forces and import laws are beginning to demand transparency and traceability, both as a positive differentiator and for risk management. All of these forces interact and shape each other.

Today, Global Fishing Watch is an early preview of what is possible. We’re committed to continuing to build tools, partnerships, and access to information to help restore our abundant ocean for generations to come.

Go explore your ocean at

Posted By: Brian Sullivan, Google Lead - Global Fishing Watch, Sr. Program Manager - Google Ocean & Earth Outreach

Source: Google LatLong

Hailing more ride service options in Google Maps

Back in March, we introduced a new way for people to find and compare the fastest ways to get around town by adding a new ride services tab when searching for directions in Google Maps. Today, we’re adding two more partners in the U.S., Lyft and Gett. Now Google Maps will display options from 9 ride-sharing partners in over 60 countries, allowing you to compare the fastest, most affordable ride near you, without having to download and open multiple apps.

Say you’re looking to get from the High Line to Times Square in Manhattan. When typing these locations into the Google Maps app, you’ll see a ride services tab appear alongside driving, transit and walking directions. Just tap the icon and you’ll find fare estimates and pick up times from multiple ride service partners, depending on driver availability. We’ll also show various types of services offered by each partner— for instance Lyft may also show options for a Lyft Line ride.
Bookaride Uber Lyft.png
The ride service tab updates automatically based on driver availability, estimated fare and ETA.

Ride options from Lyft will begin appearing across the U.S., while Gett will show availability within New York City. So the next time you find yourself with an appointment across the city, just open the Google Maps app on iOS or Android and take it for a spin.

By Sara Torti, Senior Product Manager, Google Maps

Source: Google LatLong

Sheep View: Where there’s a wool, there’s a way

Over the past three months, Durita Andreassen and a few friendly sheep equipped with solar-powered cameras strapped to their woolly backs set out to collect imagery of the Faroe Islands for Street View. The 18 Faroe Islands are home to just 50,000 people, but — fittingly for a country whose name means “Sheep Island” — there are 70,000 sheep roaming the green hills and volcanic cliffs of the archipelago. So when Durita decided to document the country for Street View, sheep weren’t a baaad place to start.

When we herd about the Sheep View project, we thought it was shear brilliance. So we decided to help the Faroese by supplying them with a Street View trekker and 360 cameras via our Street View camera loan program. Last week, the Google Maps team arrived in the Faroe Islands to help train and equip the local community to capture even more (but slightly less woolly) Street View imagery.

Now that the Faroe Islands is supplied with a Trekker and 360 cameras, residents and tourists can assist the sheep in collecting Street View imagery of their beautiful lands using selfie-sticks, bikes, backpacks, cars, kayaks, horses, ships and even wheelbarrows. The Visit Faroe Islands office in Tórshavn and Atlantic Airways at the airport will be lending out Street View 360 cameras to visitors willing to lend a hoof.

The Faroe Islands have shown us that even sheep can contribute to Street View. If your hometown or favorite hiking trail hasn’t made it into Google Maps yet, grab your own 360 camera or apply to borrow one from us through our Street View camera loan program. We’re excited to see what ewe map!

Published By: David Castro González de Vega - Google Maps Program Manager

Source: Google LatLong

Five Trending Roadside Attractions for Your End of Summer Road Trip

Summer just isn’t complete without a road trip. Whether you cruise Route 66 from coast to coast or take a short drive out of the city, there are plenty of quirky attractions along the way. We looked at Google Maps data from the past few years to uncover which weird and wonderful roadside attractions are searched for more during the summer months than during the rest of the year. Here’s a curated list of some trending roadside gems across the country.

Roadtrippers leaving California for the beautiful Oregon landscape shouldn’t miss the Trees of Mystery attraction just 36 miles south of the Oregon border. Despite the name, the true showstoppers are the 49-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan and the 35-foot-tall Babe the Blue Ox – both of which are visible from Highway 101.

Downtown Seattle sports a notoriously sticky tourist attraction: a wall covered in gum. Although the wall was scrubbed clean back in 2015, it returned to all its glory in no time. Road trippers who find themselves at the famous Pike Place Market need only wander downstairs to Post Alley to behold the man-made (or chewed) marvel.

Just off Route 66, weary travelers can take a break to picnic, swim, or fish at the small lake that’s home to a big Blue Whale. To cool off from their long drives visitors fling themselves off his tail, slide down his fins and pose for photos in his open jaws.

Fewer than 30 minutes from Atlantic City, travelers can take in another larger than life creation – Lucy the Elephant. Lucy is a 132-year-old elephant-shaped building that towers six-stories tall. Visitors can enter the structure and climb up to the howdah (the carriage positioned on the back of an elephant) for a picturesque view of the beach below.

Take a short detour off I-95 in Connecticut to take a trip back in time to the Jurassic period. Northeastern roadtrippers will find 40 life-sized dinosaur figures on a 1.5-mile nature trail in The Dinosaur Place. And the best part is that they don’t have to worry about any real-life velociraptors.

Next time you’re on a road trip, remember to take a break and explore the roadside attractions along your route. Google Maps can help you do just that with a variety of features like offline maps, the ability to search for places along your route, and the option to create multi-stop trips (now available on Android and iOS). After all, the journey can be just as much fun as the destination.

Posted by Pierre Petronin, Quantitative Analyst, Google Maps

Source: Google LatLong

Dragons and turtles, and fish, oh hi!

The Indonesian Island of Komodo is home to the world's largest living lizard — the Komodo Dragon. Now you can see these carnivorous reptiles from the comfort (and safety!) of home with the launch of new Street View imagery from the Komodo islands.

Beyond taking a virtual walk with dragons, you can also explore the rich marine life surrounding Komodo Island, with the launch of 11 new underwater sites from Indonesia, thanks to XL Catlin Seaview Survey and The Ocean Agency.
Image from XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Home to a kaleidoscope of corals and fish, sites like Batu Bolong and Raja Ampat attract scuba divers from around the world. Now you can take a dip with turtles, go swimming with sweetlips, and inspect colorful corals all without having to put on a wetsuit. All you need is Google Maps, to see and appreciate these unique and beautiful sites (available on iOS or Android).
Image from XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Bunaken National Park in the Coral Triangle is another top destination for aquanauts, as it has some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world and is home to many reef fish and turtles.

Image from XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Image from XL Catlin Seaview Survey

To really get schooled in the marine diversity of Indonesia, head over to the Drop-off in Bali where you’ll encounter Giant Trevally, Big Eye Trevally and Yellowstripe Scad aplenty.


Image from XL Catlin Seaview Survey

To capture all this stunning underwater imagery, the XL Catlin Seaview Survey team use a panoramic camera system, mounted on an underwater scooter piloted by a diver. The crystal clear images are produced by the camera cruising along at around 4kms per hour taking rapid-fire 360 degree pictures every 3 seconds. This imagery is part of a unique global study dedicated to monitoring the change of the ocean’s corals and revealing that change to the world.

Screenshot 2016-08-06 10.54.46.png
Image from XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Once you’re finished exploring the sea, come up for some air and take in the sights on land at Komodo village.  

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 9.18.39 PM.png

We hope you enjoy exploring Indonesia’s stunning natural beauty, above and below the water with Google Street View.

Posted by Cynthia Wei, Google Street View Program Manager, South East Asia.

Source: Google LatLong

Get around town a little easier with new offline features and ride service options

Starting today it just got a little easier to get around town with Google Maps – even when you run into some of the most frustrating travel scenarios around.

Scenario 1: You live or are traveling around a place with expensive data or spotty service
We’ve all been through this -- whether in our own backyard or a different country. You need to get directions, but you don’t have service. Or you do have service – but it’s spotty – so you find yourself staring at the map in a perpetual state of loading while you sit in your car waiting to find out which way to go. Now, when you know you’ll have spotty service or just want to save on data, you can toggle to “Wi-fi only” to use Google Maps entirely offline on Android. And the best part is that you can still use other apps and the rest of your phone as you normally would. You might even save on battery life too.


Scenario 2: You’re running out of storage
Entry-level smartphones come with internal storage capacities as low as 4GB, while higher-end models range between 8GB and 32GB. For many of us, that’s not enough for all the videos, music, apps, and photos we cram onto our beloved smartphones. To ensure that Google Maps users with any storage capacity can download and use offline areas when they need them most, we’ve added the ability to download your offline areas to an external SD card (if your device supports them) on Google Maps for Android. Now you’ll never have to choose between snapping more food photos or the ability to navigate offline.

Scenario 3: You just want someone else to do the driving
Sometimes you just need to get somewhere fast and don't want to drive, walk, or take public transportation. In March, we introduced a dedicated mode where users can easily compare ride service options without having to open multiple apps. In addition to showing options from Uber, we're now showing GO-JEK rides in three cities in Indonesia with ten more cities coming soon (Android, rolling out on iOS) and Grab rides in 24 cities throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand (Android, rolling out on iOS). We've also expanded the availability of Gett, Hailo, and MyTaxi in select cities across Ireland, Poland, Italy, Austria, Russia, and Israel (Android, iOS).

Commuting around your own city can be a battle and navigating around a foreign land can be ten times tougher. Using Google Maps offline and comparing between ride service options help make it a little easier so you can spend more time living and less time figuring out how to get places.

Posted by Amanda Bishop, Product Manager, Google Maps

Source: Google LatLong

Google Maps goes for the win with Rio updates

Mapping a sprawling, densely populated city of 6 million people like Rio de Janeiro is a tough task. With an extra 10,000 athletes, half a million travelers, and tens of thousands of volunteers heading to the city this month, you can expect additional friction caused by road closures, traffic, and jam-packed attractions. Google Maps is putting the finishing touches on some first prize-worthy updates to help tourists and Rio residents alike get around “the Marvelous City” with ease. We even threw in a couple changes for those enjoying the events from home to feel like they’re in the middle of the action.

Getting around Rio without a hitch
For folks on the ground in Rio, Maps can be your real-world assistant, helping you get where you’re going via whichever mode of transportation you prefer. In April, we launched real-time transit for 1,300 bus lines in the ​​Rio metro area, as well as bike routes throughout Rio and the rest of Brazil.

Construction, security and crowds during large-scale events can put a damper on a driver’s day. We’re working with the City of Rio to make sure Google Maps has the most up-to-date info on traffic, road closures and detours and help get you where you’re going faster.

Breezing through traffic and beating the crowds is reason for celebration. With the Explore feature on Google Maps for Android and iOS in Brazil, anyone can uncover the local gems wherever you go by simply tapping “Explore food & drinks near you” at the bottom of the app. From there you can swipe through the best breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner, and drinks spots around them.

Getting all of Rio on the Map
The favelas of Rio aren’t well-known to many outsiders, partly because there’s limited information about these areas to include on maps. We partnered with the local Brazilian nonprofit Grupo Cultural AfroReggae on a project called “Tá No Mapa” (“It’s On the Map” in English). Together with AfroReggae we trained 150 favela residents on digital mapping skills and in just two years they’ve mapped 26 favelas and gotten more than 3,000 businesses on the map. Not only does this allow locals to find businesses like Bar do David—an award-winning restaurant in the favela Chapeu Mangueira—it’s helped some local residents get a mailing address for the first time.

Getting in on the action from home

For those of you (*raises hand*) who can’t make it to Rio this summer, you can still get in on the excitement from the comfort of your home. We refreshed our Google Street View imagery to give virtual travelers an insider's look at the stadiums. You can almost taste the caipirinhas!

For those who really want to feel like they’re in the the game, we also launched indoor maps of all 25 official indoor venues and added more details to the maps of the 12 outdoor venues – like the custom-made golf course where you can now practically see all 18 holes.

No matter what city you find yourself in this summer, these very same features can help you find the perfect spot to watch the action and get there with ease.

Posted by Marcus Leal, Product Manager, Google Maps

Source: Google LatLong