Category Archives: Google LatLong Blog

News and notes by the Google Earth and Maps team

How 15 years of mapping the world makes Search better

Our Maps 101 series goes behind the scenes to share how we help you navigate, explore and get things done every single day. Over the past 15 years, we’ve provided maps in more than 220 countries and territories and now surface helpful information for more than 200 million places. These efforts bring helpful local information to your fingertips in Google Maps and produce better Google Search results, helping you connect with nearby places and businesses. 

In fact, Search results that show local places and businesses now drive more than 4 billion connections between customers and businesses every month. This includes more than 2 billion monthly website clicks and other connections, such as phone calls, directions, food ordering and reservations. 

Today, we’ll share more about the innovations and investments that help build an accurate and up-to-date understanding of places for the billions of people looking for local information on Search and Maps.

Maximizing Street View with breakthroughs in AI

Street View imagery lets you virtually explore the world, and helps us accurately reflect local information about places in Maps and Search. We’ve travelled more than 10 million miles across 87 countries to capture this imagery and bring new information online—from unmapped roads to new businesses.

Applying artificial intelligence to our more than 170 billion Street View images helps us create high-quality maps faster than we could before. For instance, applying machine learning models to Street View imagery has improved the accuracy of one-third of the addresses in Google Maps and Search, resulting in more reliable maps as people look for a local business or navigate to a destination. 

Text recognition in the natural environment is challenging—especially at scale. The average Street View photo has visual distractions like distortions, cluttered backgrounds with extraneous text and awkward viewpoints. After years of teaching machine learning models, our text recognition systems can tune out these distractions and detect business names and addresses even when they're handwritten on the side of a building or abbreviated. These models can understand a variety of languages across various scripts too, from Latin, Cyrillic and Thai to Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

In the last few years alone, processing imagery with AI has been one of the important ways we’ve been able to add more than 10 billion edits to our library of places, providing people with updated phone numbers, business hours and locations as they use Maps and Search.

Building data partnerships with authoritative sources worldwide

Thanks to partnerships covering more than 10,000 local governments, municipal agencies and organizations around the world, we're able to reflect the latest information in Search and Maps results and help local authorities reach even more people in their communities with important updates. This includes everything from bike lanes and road closures to the addresses of hospitals and food banks. Our teams vet each authoritative data source to make sure it’s accurate before it appears on Search and Maps.

Working with authorities around the world also helps us quickly gather and surface critical information. This year, these partnerships made it possible to make important updates relevant to COVID-19. When you search for “COVID test” on Search and Maps we now show you more than 17,000 COVID-19 testing centers across 20 countries and all 50 U.S. states. You can also see important details like if appointments are required, who can get tested and if there’s drive-through testing. 

These details are crucial and accuracy is key, which is why we lean on authoritative sources to help us surface this information in Maps and Search.

A global community contributes to make Search and Maps better

To ensure our products reflect the real world as fast as it changes, we enable people everywhere to contribute their local knowledge. Every day, people make millions of contributions to Google Maps, like reviews, photos, address updates and more. And we’re seeing more people contributing than ever before. In the past 3 years, the number of reviews, ratings and photos people have added to Google Maps more than doubled.

With local details from people in Maps and Search, it’s easier to make more informed decisions. You can quickly find reviews when looking for a mechanic, see photos others have added for a park you’d like to explore, and find your convenience store’s new hours. 

A phone shows what people’s reviews on Maps and Search look like

People’s reviews on Maps and Search make it easier to discover new places and learn about businesses nearby.

This year, as cities and countries instituted restrictions throughout the pandemic, many places temporarily closed or changed their operations. While businesses can indicate if they are open with their Google My Business listing, we’ve also made it easy for anyone to mark a business as open or temporarily closed on Search and Maps by simply suggesting an edit. Over the course of the pandemic, people have submitted millions of temporary closure and reopen reports, helping eliminate the uncertainty about which businesses are open and when. 

Giving business owners free tools to connect with customers online 

One of the most important ways we help local businesses succeed is by connecting them with customers online. Business owners can claim their free Business Profile and connect directly with customers across Search and Maps via phone calls, messages and reservations. They can also share accurate information about their business, including opening hours, services offered and contact information. And each month Google connects people with more than 120 million businesses that don't have websites, helping small business owners who aren’t online attract more customers.

Over the last five years, we’ve made more than a thousand improvements to Business Profiles, making it easier for merchants to connect with customers and share updates online. We recently made this even easier by adding new ways for merchants to view and update their Business Profile directly from Search and Maps. 

With the pandemic causing daily disruptions worldwide, Google has helped businesses keep customers updated about everything from new services to adjusted store capacity and hours. Since the start of COVID-19, businesses made nearly 700 million edits to their Business Profiles, about double the number of changes made during the same time last year. 

Image of desktop and phone show how it's easy for a business owner to update their Business Profile and engage with customers directly from Search and Maps.

It’s easy for a business owner to update their Business Profile and engage with customers directly from Search and Maps.

Gathering local information in totally new ways

To help people find what they need in a world that changes by the minute, we’ve developed new ways to find and surface information.

For example, people tend to avoid crowded stores and long lines—and this has been especially true during the pandemic. Popular times and live busyness information help people see how busy a place tends to be at a specific time or at that very moment. Gone are the days of guessing the best time to go grocery shopping! We’re expanding live busyness information to millions of places globally and to include essential places like gas stations, grocery stores, laundromats and pharmacies.

Google’s conversational technology, Duplex, has helped us scale our ability to confirm updated information for places. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve put Duplex to work making calls to businesses in eight countries—from New Zealand to the United States—to confirm things like opening hours or whether they offer takeout and delivery. This has helped us make millions of updates to business information that have been seen more than 20 billion times in Maps and Search.

Building the most helpful map of an infinitely detailed world

Beyond the technologies we’ve developed, our global operations teams play a role in nearly every aspect of mapmaking. They gather data, train machine learning models that help us index information from imagery, fix problems and evaluate authoritative data sources. They also build and maintain the automated systems that protect people from fake contributed content and even help small business owners set up Google My Business accounts.

All this to say, our work to organize the world's information and make it accessible and useful is never done. Given the pace of change, there’s never been a more important time for us to be helpful.

Source: Google LatLong


Prepare for medical visits with help from Google and AHRQ

When patients prepare for a medical visit, they're more likely to have a high quality, efficient encounter and better physical and mental health outcomes. Starting today, we’re piloting a new tool that helps people prepare for visits by surfacing common questions they may have about their care--available when people find a local doctor’s office or hospital on Search. 

Built in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, our tool helps people build a visit plan by selecting from evidence-based questions like, “What is this test for?” as well as adding their own questions. When they’re finished, they can print or email the visit plan and bring it to the doctor’s office to help them remember important questions they want to ask. The visit plan also includes a reminder of things patients should bring to the visit, like a list of current medications, recent lab results, and their insurance card. The tool is private and secure: Google does not store any of the information.

Example of search for a gynecologist

Ten questions for more engaged care

The suggested questions, developed by AHRQ as part of its “Questions are the Answer” initiative, are designed to get people thinking about their goals and priorities for the visit. They’re based on findings from dozens of patient safety research projects as well as AHRQ’s expertise on diagnostic testing and results, medication safety, safe transitions between care settings, and the importance of patient and family engagement in healthcare.

“Patients who prepare for medical visits by prioritizing their questions, strengthen their role as members of their own health care team,” said Jeffrey Brady, M.D., M.P.H., a preventive medicine physician and Director of the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the AHRQ. Dr. Brady added, “This helps clinicians maximize their time with patients so they can better address their most critical health needs. Clinicians appreciate that healthcare can be more efficient, effective, and higher quality when they work together with patients.”

3 steps for planning an upcoming visit

Protecting health information 

People come to Google for health-related information every day, and we’re committed to helping them get the information they need along their healthcare journey. The tool does not gather any personal health information or store any of the information that is entered into the tool. People have the option to print or email their visit plan, and people can use this tool without signing into a Google account. This tool is in a pilot phase and is currently available to a limited number of people in the United States and will expand to more users over time. 

Healthcare can be confusing and overwhelming, but simply thinking about goals before meeting with a clinician can have a huge impact on patient experience and health outcomes. With the visit planning tool, we hope more people will effectively plan for medical visits, get more out of their visits and ultimately achieve better health outcomes.

Source: Google LatLong


Make your own turkey trot with Google Maps

Every Thanksgiving, before I settle into the couch to watch football or load my plate with multiple servings of stuffing, there’s another tradition I have to accomplish first: a turkey trot. 

If you don’t already know, a turkey trot is a Thanksgiving Day run. It’s usually a casual way to log a few miles before sitting down for the big meal. There are lots of community-led, organized Turkey Trots, but plenty of people do them casually as well. I’ve done them with running clubs, alongside family and friends and even participated in an official race or two. 

Even though I’m practicing social distancing this year, the turkey trot isn’t canceled. Instead, thanks to some help from Google Maps, it will be a semi-solo operation, with the option for friends and family—or really, anyone in the area—to virtually run “along” the route with me. Below, you can follow a few easy steps to create your own turkey trot as well. (These directions are for using Google Maps on desktop.) 

Step 1. First, open Google Maps and select the hamburger menu at left (the three lines in a row). When that opens, choose “Terrain.” Then, the map at right will show you the topography of your location, which is helpful if you want to avoid (or add) some hills to your run. 

Animated GIF showing Google Maps and the "terrain" option opening.

I also found it helpful to select the “Bicycling” option in this panel. This highlights the bike lanes and trails in your area, and I’ve found it particularly useful to find paths that cut through parks that are great for cyclists and pedestrians. Another great way to get an idea of what your run will look like is to jump into Street View so you can get a more accurate idea of what you’ll be running through.

Step 2. I’m going to start and end my race at a park, but you can start from wherever you want. I decided an eight-mile run sounds right, so I chose a half point of four miles on the map. This is a bit of trial and error (“Oops, that was only three miles away, and this point is about five”) until you find the best spot. And of course, this doesn’t have to be exact if you’re not trying to be too official. 

When you’re doing this, make sure you choose the “walking” icon, and also know that you can select the direction line on Google Maps to make the path a little longer or shorter. For example, I saw a bike trail that went through a park and dragged the dotted line through it. Just play around with this until you find the halfway mark that works for you.

Animated GIF showing Google Maps and directions being entered.

Step 3. On the left-hand side, choose “add destination,” and re-enter your original starting point. Follow the instructions from step three again to drag and adjust your path as desired to get to the mileage you want. You can also take advantage of some of Maps’ new features if you want to make sure you get your fill of fall foliage. Or if you want to run by the homes of friends and family for a quick hello as you go, use Maps’ list feature to mark them, or any other landmarks that you want to include in the route. 

Step 4. After you’ve completed creating your route, you can choose “Send directions to your phone” so you’ll have the map while you’re running. And if you select “Details,” you’ll see a share icon in the upper right-hand corner of this panel. There, you’ll get a link that you can share with family and friends. This way, they can try and recreate a similar path in their own neighborhood. 

Step 5. When I’m running a specific path like this, I like to turn on the detailed voice guide feature, which gives you more frequent alerts for navigation. It was built to help people who are visually impaired, but it’s also great for runners who don’t want to constantly glance at their phone for directions. In your Google Maps settings, select “Navigation,” and you’ll see an option at the bottom of the list under “Walking options” for “Detailed voice guidance.” 

Step 6. Now this is optional, but if you really want the full turkey trot experience, you can all choose a time to start your race and “run” together. There are a handful of apps that let you track and time your run. You can be as competitive (or non-competitive) as you want, with prizes for winners, or most-spirited. Get creative and add a scavenger hunt element to it: Runners get points for photos of Thanksgiving decorations, or local landmarks. Make it yours, and more importantly, make it fun. 

Source: Google LatLong


Rachel Malarich is planting a better future, tree by tree

Everyone has a tree story, Rachel Malarich says—and one of hers takes place on the limbs of a eucalyptus tree. Rachel and her cousins spent summers in central California climbing the 100-foot tall trees and hanging out between the waxy blue leaves—an experience she remembers as awe-inspiring. 

Now, as Los Angeles first-ever City Forest Officer, Rachel’s work is shaping the tree stories that Angelenos will tell. “I want our communities to go to public spaces and feel that sense of awe,” she says. “That feeling that something was there before them, and it will be there after them...we have to bring that to our cities.”

Part of Rachel’s job is to help the City of Los Angeles reach an ambitious goal: to plant and maintain 90,000 trees by the end of 2021 and to keep planting trees at a rate of 20,000 per year after that. This goal is about more than planting trees, though: It’s about planting the seeds for social, economic and environmental equity. These trees, Rachel says, will help advance citywide sustainability and climate goals, beautify neighborhoods, improve air quality and create shade to combat rising street-level temperatures. 

To make sure every tree has the most impact, Rachel and the City of Los Angeles use Tree Canopy Lab, a tool they helped build with Google that uses AI and aerial imagery to understand current tree cover density, also known as “tree canopy,” right down to street-level data. Tree inventory data, which is typically collected through on-site assessments, helps city officials know where to invest resources for maintaining, preserving and planting trees. It also helps pinpoint where new trees should be planted. In the case of LA, there was a strong correlation between a lack of tree coverage and the city's underserved communities. 

With Tree Canopy Lab, Rachel and her team overlay data, such as population density and land use data, to understand what’s happening within the 500 square miles of the city and understand where new trees will have the biggest impact on a community. It helps them answer questions like: Where are highly populated residential areas with low tree coverage? Which thoroughfares that people commute along every day have no shade? 

And it also helps Rachel do what she has focused her career on: creating community-led programs. After more than a decade of working at nonprofits, she’s learned that resilient communities are connected communities. 

“This data helps us go beyond assumptions and see where the actual need is,” Rachel says. “And it frees me up to focus on what I know best: listening to the people of LA, local policy and urban forestry.” 

After working with Google on Tree Canopy Lab, she’s found that data gives her a chance to connect with the public. She now has a tool that quickly pools together data and creates a visual to show community leaders what’s happening in specific neighborhoods, what the city is doing and why it’s important. She can also demonstrate ways communities can better manage resources they already have to achieve local goals. And that’s something she thinks every city can benefit from. 

“My entrance into urban forestry was through the lens of social justice and economic inequity. For me, it’s about improving the quality of life for Angelenos,” Rachel says. “I’m excited to work with others to create that impact on a bigger level, and build toward the potential for a better environment in the future.”

And in this case, building a better future starts with one well planned tree at a time.

Source: Google LatLong


Creating new tree shade with the power of AI and aerial imagery

Most of us have heard the timeless proverb, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Worldwide, there is growing discussion in cities about planting more trees as policymakers and neighbors look to increase shade on warming city streets.

Extreme temperatures are becoming more common in cities where concrete and infrastructure are now creating heat islands—areas that experience higher temperatures, leading to poor air quality, dehydration and other public health concerns. Trees are increasingly seen as a solution to both lowering street-level temperatures while improving quality of life. Yet many cities may not have the budget or resources to locate where every tree in town is, or where new tree-planting efforts are most needed.

With our new Tree Canopy Lab we are combining AI and aerial imagery to help cities see their current tree canopy coverage and plan future tree planting projects, starting with the City of Los Angeles. 

With the Tree Canopy Lab you can see Los Angeles’s trees with local context, like what percentage of a neighborhood has leafy cover, an area’s population density, what areas are vulnerable to extreme heat, and which neighborhood councils can help get new roots in the ground.

Tree Canopy lab is in our Environmental Insights Explorer platform, a tool that makes it easier for cities to measure, plan and reduce carbon emissions and pollution. It’s also one step forward in part our commitment to help hundreds of local governments fight climate change.


Tree Canopy Lab on a desktop device

Anyone can access the Tree Canopy Lab from a tablet or personal computer

Mapping tree cover to seed new urban forestry efforts

With aerial imagery collected from planes during the spring, summer and fall seasons, as well as Google AI and Google Earth Engine’s data analysis capabilities, we can now pinpoint all the trees in a city and measure their density. The imagery we use for these calculations includes color photos that closely represent how we would see a city from the sky. To get even more detailed information about the city’s canopy cover, near-infrared photos detect colors and details that human eyes can’t see and compare images from different angles to create a height map.

See tree cover in Los Angeles with Tree Canopy Lab

See tree cover in Los Angeles with Tree Canopy Lab

We then use a specialized tree-detection AI that automatically scans the images, detects the presence of trees and then produces a map that shows the density of tree cover, also known as “tree canopy.” 

With this tool, the City of Los Angeles doesn’t have to rely on expensive and time-intensive manual tree studies which can involve block-by-block tree surveys, outdated records, or incomplete studies which only count trees in public spaces.

From policymakers to neighbors, anyone can explore Los Angeles in the Tree Canopy Lab and glean insights. For example, the lab can help anyone identify residential blocks with high tree planting potential and locate sidewalks that are vulnerable to higher temperatures due to low canopy coverage.

Tree Canopy Lab's AI scans aerial images, detects the presence of trees and then produces a map that shows the density of tree cover

Tree Canopy Lab's AI scans aerial images, detects the presence of trees and then produces a map that shows the density of tree cover

With Tree Canopy Lab we’ve found that more than 50 percent of Angelenos live in areas with less than 10 percent tree canopy coverage and 44 percent of Angelenos live in areas with extreme heat risk. We also see a correlation that shows parts of Los Angeles with the lowest heat risk also have the highest tree canopy coverage — these areas are also the lowest population density of Angelenos.


Connecting cities with new environmental insights

Los Angeles has been on the forefront of cities using urban forestry to not only advance sustainability goals, but to beautify neighborhoods, improve air quality and bring down street-level temperatures as the region gets hotter due to climate change.

With a near-term goal of planting and maintaining 90,000 trees by 2021 and continuing to plant trees at a rate of 20,000 per year across a city of more than 503 square miles, the Tree Canopy Lab is already helping people across the city reach this goal. From neighbors and community organizations to Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city’s first-ever forestry officer, Rachel Malarich, they all have access to a birds-eye view of where the city’s existing trees are and which areas need more greenery. 


“Every tree we plant can help stem the tide of the climate crisis, and when we expand our urban forest, we can sow the seeds of a healthier, more sustainable and equitable future for communities hit hardest by rising temperatures and intensifying heat waves. Google’s technology will help us bring the power of trees to families and households across Los Angeles -- adding greenery to our public spaces, injecting beauty into our city, and bringing cooler temperatures to our neighborhoods.” 

-Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti


More tree insights for more cities on the horizon

We’ll be making the insights in Tree Canopy Lab available to hundreds of more cities in the year to come as we continue to support the ambitious work cities like Los Angeles are doing to embark on tree planting and maintenance initiatives. 


We invite city planners and policymakers to reach out to kickstart a conversation with us sharing their interest through this form.

Source: Google LatLong


Google Maps updates to get you through the holidays

This year, we’ve made it easier to find information that helps you stay safe, up-to-date, and connected. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve added nearly 250 new features and improvements to Google Maps to help you adapt to this new normal—from live busyness information for millions of places, to the ability to easily see critical health and safety information at a glance. And we’re continuing to invest in ways to keep information in Maps fresh, with over 50 million updates made to the map each day. Even as the holidays approach, we don’t plan on slowing down. If you need to be out and about this holiday season, here are four ways that Google Maps can help you get around safely and get things done.


Get around

Whether you’re heading out of town or staying local, keeping a pulse on the latest COVID trends can help you stay safe. Since we launched the COVID layer, it’s helped nearly 10 million people get critical information about COVID-19 right from Google Maps. 

We’re rolling out two new improvements in the coming weeks. The updated COVID layer on Android and iOS will soon show more information, including all-time detected cases in an area, along with quick links to COVID resources from local authorities. This is especially handy if you’re heading out of town and need to get up to speed about the local guidelines, testing sites and restrictions in another city.


COVID Layer V2

Now you can see all-time detected COVID-19 cases in an area and links to local, authoritative resources right from the COVID layer

Avoiding holiday crowds might have always been your thing, but this year, we’re making it especially easy for everyone. If you need to take transit, Google Maps can help you more easily social distance with live crowdedness information. On Android and iOS globally, you’ll start seeing how crowded your bus, train, or subway line is right now based on real-time feedback from Google Maps users around the world (wherever data is available).


Live Transit Crowdedness

See how crowded your transit line is right now

The right information, at just the right time

You may be in the mood to cook an elaborate holiday meal—or you may not. If you fall into the latter category, we’re rolling out the ability to see the live status of takeout and delivery orders in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Brazil and India when you book or order from Google Maps on Android and iOS. Now, you can know when to pick up your food, or when you can expect it to arrive at your doorstep. You can also see expected wait times and delivery fees, and easily reorder your favorites right from the Google Maps app. And when it’s safe to head to restaurants, you’ll soon be able to quickly see the status of your reservation in 70 countries around the world.


live delivery

Now you can see the live status of your takeout or delivery order

Get more done

Even without a global pandemic, the holidays are busy and you may need to spend some time on the road. Last year, we shared an early look at Google Assistant driving mode in Maps, and today, we're starting to roll out an early preview of the improved experience to Android users in English in the U.S.—with more features coming soon. 


Thanks to the new driving-friendly Assistant interface, you can easily get more done while keeping your focus on the road. Use voice to send and receive calls and texts, quickly review new messages across your messaging apps in one place, and get a read-out of your texts so you don’t need to look down at your phone—Assistant will even alert you to an incoming call so you can answer or decline with voice. You can also play media from hundreds of providers around the globe, including YouTube Music, Spotify, Google Podcasts and many more. Driving mode makes all of this possible without ever leaving the navigation screen, so you can minimize distractions on the road. To get started with driving mode, begin navigating to a destination with Google Maps and tap on the pop up to get started. Or, head to Assistant settings on your Android phone or say "Hey Google, open Assistant settings.” Then select “Getting around,” choose “Driving mode” and turn it on.

assistant driving mode

Assistant driving mode in Maps lets you get more done while keeping your focus on the road

While the ways we make life easier for you have changed, our commitment to do this has been there all along. Over the past 15 years, Google Maps has used technology to bring helpful information about the real world right to your fingertips. To make sure that information is as accurate and up-to-date as possible, we rely on 170 billion high-definition Street View images from 87 countries, contributions from hundreds of millions of businesses and people using Google Maps, and authoritative data from more than 10,000 local governments, transit agencies and organizations. We also invest in technical approaches that power some of our most beloved and essential features—from the 20 million places globally that now show popular times data to AR-powered Live View. 

Even in a pandemic, more than 1 billion people still turn to Google Maps to navigate their new normal—and our work is far from done. We’re continually working to build new features and services to help all of us emerge from this challenging time stronger than ever. So whatever your plans are this holiday season and no matter how much they’ve changed, Google Maps can make them easier and safer for you.


Source: Google LatLong


Google Maps: your holiday sidekick

The holiday season is starting—which means time with friends, family, and lots of food. And though festivities may be a bit different this year, there are still creative, safe ways to celebrate and stay connected. No matter what you have in store for the holidays, these Google Maps tips can help you stay informed, stay connected and save time.

Stay informed even while running holiday errands and traveling

1. Check out how busy a place is:Popular times and live busyness information can tell you how crowded a place typically is on a given day or time—and even how busy it is right now. This is especially handy during the era of social distancing: Check out busyness on Maps before you head to a restaurant, store, business, or place to avoid holiday crowds and long waits.

2. (New!) Find the latest information about COVID-19: If you’re thinking about heading out of town to another city or state, you can use the COVID layer on Maps to quickly see how cases are trending in the area. You can also access quick links to authoritative local resources so you know at a glance if there are specific guidelines or restrictions in the area you’re visiting. 

3. Quickly understand safety precautions from a business: If you're eating out or getting a head start on your holiday shopping, you can easily learn more about what safety precautions a business is taking. Find out if they’re sanitizing between customers, if there's safety dividers at checkout and if they require staff to have regular temperature checks.

If you need to, connect safely

4. Share your ETA:If you need to see loved ones, let them know when they can expect you to arrive with you just a few taps. 

5. Don’t get lost: Planning to meet up with friends outdoors and at a distance? When a friend has chosen to share their location with you, you can easily tap on their icon and then on Live View to see where and how far away they are—with overlaid arrows and directions that help you know where to go.

Save time so you can spend more time enjoying the festivities 

6. (New!) Get more done on drives:If you’re road tripping home, using voice with Google Assistant driving mode in Maps helps make the ride more convenient and enjoyable while keeping your focus on the road. Starting to roll out today as a preview, Android users in the U.S. can now get call alerts from Assistant, answer or decline calls by simply using their voice, quickly review incoming messages across apps in one place, and play podcasts and songs from hundreds of media providers—all without leaving the navigation screen. 

7. (New!) Don’t let your food get cold: If you’re taking a low-key approach to the holidays this year and opting to order in instead of cooking an elaborate meal, Google Maps can help. When searching on your phone for restaurants nearby, you can easily sort by places that offer takeout or delivery and place your order directly from Google Maps. Now you can also see exactly when your order will be delivered or ready to pick up on the app’s home screen—because nobody likes cold turkey!

8. Search along your route:  If you’re on the road and realize you need to make a stop—say you’re running low on gas or need to pick up a last-minute item from the market—use Google Maps to search for gas stations, grocery stores, or other places along your drive so you can tackle your tasks without going too far out of your way. 

Source: Google LatLong


Google Maps: your holiday sidekick

The holiday season is starting—which means time with friends, family, and lots of food. And though festivities may be a bit different this year, there are still creative, safe ways to celebrate and stay connected. No matter what you have in store for the holidays, these Google Maps tips can help you stay informed, stay connected and save time.

Stay informed even while running holiday errands and traveling

1. Check out how busy a place is:Popular times and live busyness information can tell you how crowded a place typically is on a given day or time—and even how busy it is right now. This is especially handy during the era of social distancing: Check out busyness on Maps before you head to a restaurant, store, business, or place to avoid holiday crowds and long waits.

2. (New!) Find the latest information about COVID-19: If you’re thinking about heading out of town to another city or state, you can use the COVID layer on Maps to quickly see how cases are trending in the area. You can also access quick links to authoritative local resources so you know at a glance if there are specific guidelines or restrictions in the area you’re visiting. 

3. Quickly understand safety precautions from a business: If you're eating out or getting a head start on your holiday shopping, you can easily learn more about what safety precautions a business is taking. Find out if they’re sanitizing between customers, if there's safety dividers at checkout and if they require staff to have regular temperature checks.

If you need to, connect safely

4. Share your ETA:If you need to see loved ones, let them know when they can expect you to arrive with you just a few taps. 

5. Don’t get lost: Planning to meet up with friends outdoors and at a distance? When a friend has chosen to share their location with you, you can easily tap on their icon and then on Live View to see where and how far away they are—with overlaid arrows and directions that help you know where to go.

Save time so you can spend more time enjoying the festivities 

6. (New!) Get more done on drives:If you’re road tripping home, using voice with Google Assistant driving mode in Maps helps make the ride more convenient and enjoyable while keeping your focus on the road. Starting to roll out today as a preview, Android users in the U.S. can now get call alerts from Assistant, answer or decline calls by simply using their voice, quickly review incoming messages across apps in one place, and play podcasts and songs from hundreds of media providers—all without leaving the navigation screen. 

7. (New!) Don’t let your food get cold: If you’re taking a low-key approach to the holidays this year and opting to order in instead of cooking an elaborate meal, Google Maps can help. When searching on your phone for restaurants nearby, you can easily sort by places that offer takeout or delivery and place your order directly from Google Maps. Now you can also see exactly when your order will be delivered or ready to pick up on the app’s home screen—because nobody likes cold turkey!

8. Search along your route:  If you’re on the road and realize you need to make a stop—say you’re running low on gas or need to pick up a last-minute item from the market—use Google Maps to search for gas stations, grocery stores, or other places along your drive so you can tackle your tasks without going too far out of your way. 

Source: Google LatLong


Br(rr)ing on the holiday trends from Google Maps

This holiday, family gatherings will be smaller or take place virtually to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. Indoor activities will move outdoors. And that international holiday vacation will potentially transform into an epic road trip to nearby attractions as you stop to sightsee at local hidden gems along the way. But even still, people are prepping to make classic holiday dishes, looking for ways to experience winter and finding new, safe ways to be together.

We’ve analyzed Google Maps data before and during the pandemic (for the purposes of this post, we analyzed data from March to October 2020) to see how people across the U.S. are getting ready for the holidays. Read on for top trends on how people are navigating, how they’re spending their time and what type of food they’re craving.

Dashing through the snow, in a 🚗 or 🚴‍♀️ or 🚇

Across the country, Americans are opting for solo ways to get around safely. Unsurprisingly, driving continues to be the most popular mode of transportation, while interest in riding transit appears to be down by more than 50 percent. Cycling has emerged as a transit alternative–interest in cycling has increased 30 percent nationwide compared to pre-pandemic days, which is even higher than typical seasonal changes. Across all modes of transportation, we’re seeing people get directions to fewer new places, likely in an effort to social distance by sticking to tried and true spots versus exploring new places.

At the local level, transportation patterns are shifting:

  • While New Yorkers typically embrace public transit and Angelenos defer to driving–both cities have seen interest in driving increase by over 10 percent since the start of COVID. 

  • Cycling is up across the board, both in the East and the West. Cities with the biggest shift in cycling increases include Denver (+200 percent), Minneapolis (+150 percent), New York (+72 percent), Seattle (+65 percent) and Portland, OR. (+57 percent).

Google Maps Trends: Transportation

Social distancing in a winter wonderland ❄️


Popular times and live busyness information in Google Maps have always been essential holiday tools, helping you avoid unwanted crowds. These tools help you know in advance when places are going to be busy so you can save precious time and also social distance.

So if you find yourself in need of a caffeine fix to tackle your holiday errands, make sure to avoid picking up coffee on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. when coffee shops across America tend to be most packed. And if you’re planning to shop for a holiday meal, stay away from the grocery store on Saturday afternoons between 1-3 p.m. when you’re likely to encounter long lines.

Google Maps Trends: Popular Times

Chestnuts (or turkey or stuffing) roasting on an open fire 🦃 

In the spring, Americans were optimistic about cooking at home–searches for “easy recipes” were at an all-time high. But as we approach the holiday season (and dishwashing fatigue sets in), people seem to want to order in. Interest in “takeout” on Maps has gained popularity by 306 percent compared to the beginning of the pandemic, and restaurant reservations booked directly on Maps have spiked more than 200 percent–likely because more restaurants are requiring them as they work to maintain safe capacity levels.

As for what people are eating, Mexican, Chinese, and BBQ are the most-searched cuisines across the country, and we’re seeing local noodle wars and more:

  • Seattlites and Denverites are pho lovers! Both cities have searched for “pho” twice as much as they’ve searched for “ramen.”

  • In Philadelphia, interest in “cheesesteak” has decreased by nearly 40 percent compared to early this year—suggesting that locals are expanding their food horizons or that tourists were the ones searching for this Philly classic.

  • Portlanders and New Yorkers are craving Thai. In both cities, interest in Thai food is up more than 100 percent compared to earlier in the year.

Google Maps Trends: Activity and Food

Spend time outdoors and deck the halls 🎄

From coast to coast, people are using Google Maps to have fun safely outdoors, searching for parks, waterfalls, beaches and gardens within driving distance. As the weather cools, searches for outdoor locations continue to remain higher than pre-pandemic. Even traditionally outdoorsy cities like Seattle (+56 percent), Los Angeles (+31 percent), and Denver (+135 percent) are looking for outdoor spots more than they were earlier this year.

When they’re not heading outside, people are sprucing up their homes. Searches for home and garden stores are increasing all around the country, with the highest spikes happening in Chicago (+77 percent), Detroit (+86 percent) and Cleveland (+96 percent).

No matter how you plan to spend the holidays, Google Maps is here to help you knock out your to-do list. Check out our favorite tips to keep your holidays as stress free as possible while staying safe, connected and organized.

Source: Google LatLong


Br(rr)ing on the holiday trends from Google Maps

This holiday, family gatherings will be smaller or take place virtually to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. Indoor activities will move outdoors. And that international holiday vacation will potentially transform into an epic road trip to nearby attractions as you stop to sightsee at local hidden gems along the way. But even still, people are prepping to make classic holiday dishes, looking for ways to experience winter and finding new, safe ways to be together.

We’ve analyzed Google Maps data before and during the pandemic (for the purposes of this post, we analyzed data from March to October 2020) to see how people across the U.S. are getting ready for the holidays. Read on for top trends on how people are navigating, how they’re spending their time and what type of food they’re craving.

Dashing through the snow, in a 🚗 or 🚴‍♀️ or 🚇

Across the country, Americans are opting for solo ways to get around safely. Unsurprisingly, driving continues to be the most popular mode of transportation, while interest in riding transit appears to be down by more than 50 percent. Cycling has emerged as a transit alternative–interest in cycling has increased 30 percent nationwide compared to pre-pandemic days, which is even higher than typical seasonal changes. Across all modes of transportation, we’re seeing people get directions to fewer new places, likely in an effort to social distance by sticking to tried and true spots versus exploring new places.

At the local level, transportation patterns are shifting:

  • While New Yorkers typically embrace public transit and Angelenos defer to driving–both cities have seen interest in driving increase by over 10 percent since the start of COVID. 

  • Cycling is up across the board, both in the East and the West. Cities with the biggest shift in cycling increases include Denver (+200 percent), Minneapolis (+150 percent), New York (+72 percent), Seattle (+65 percent) and Portland, OR. (+57 percent).

Google Maps Trends: Transportation

Social distancing in a winter wonderland ❄️


Popular times and live busyness information in Google Maps have always been essential holiday tools, helping you avoid unwanted crowds. These tools help you know in advance when places are going to be busy so you can save precious time and also social distance.

So if you find yourself in need of a caffeine fix to tackle your holiday errands, make sure to avoid picking up coffee on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. when coffee shops across America tend to be most packed. And if you’re planning to shop for a holiday meal, stay away from the grocery store on Saturday afternoons between 1-3 p.m. when you’re likely to encounter long lines.

Google Maps Trends: Popular Times

Chestnuts (or turkey or stuffing) roasting on an open fire 🦃 

In the spring, Americans were optimistic about cooking at home–searches for “easy recipes” were at an all-time high. But as we approach the holiday season (and dishwashing fatigue sets in), people seem to want to order in. Interest in “takeout” on Maps has gained popularity by 306 percent compared to the beginning of the pandemic, and restaurant reservations booked directly on Maps have spiked more than 200 percent–likely because more restaurants are requiring them as they work to maintain safe capacity levels.

As for what people are eating, Mexican, Chinese, and BBQ are the most-searched cuisines across the country, and we’re seeing local noodle wars and more:

  • Seattlites and Denverites are pho lovers! Both cities have searched for “pho” twice as much as they’ve searched for “ramen.”

  • In Philadelphia, interest in “cheesesteak” has decreased by nearly 40 percent compared to early this year—suggesting that locals are expanding their food horizons or that tourists were the ones searching for this Philly classic.

  • Portlanders and New Yorkers are craving Thai. In both cities, interest in Thai food is up more than 100 percent compared to earlier in the year.

Google Maps Trends: Activity and Food

Spend time outdoors and deck the halls 🎄

From coast to coast, people are using Google Maps to have fun safely outdoors, searching for parks, waterfalls, beaches and gardens within driving distance. As the weather cools, searches for outdoor locations continue to remain higher than pre-pandemic. Even traditionally outdoorsy cities like Seattle (+56 percent), Los Angeles (+31 percent), and Denver (+135 percent) are looking for outdoor spots more than they were earlier this year.

When they’re not heading outside, people are sprucing up their homes. Searches for home and garden stores are increasing all around the country, with the highest spikes happening in Chicago (+77 percent), Detroit (+86 percent) and Cleveland (+96 percent).

No matter how you plan to spend the holidays, Google Maps is here to help you knock out your to-do list. Check out our favorite tips to keep your holidays as stress free as possible while staying safe, connected and organized.

Source: Google LatLong