Tag Archives: LatLong

Discover and Support Local Bookstores with Google Maps

Today is National Book Lovers’ Day in the U.S. Since we’ll take any excuse to celebrate our love of the written word, we’ve pulled together top U.S. trends from Search and Maps for our fellow bibliophiles out there, along with tips to hunt down local bookstores that are worth, well, bookmarking. 🔖

Page-turning book trends 

  • Searching with more than the Dewey Decimal system: So far this year we’ve seen millions of book-related searches on Google Maps — with searches peaking on July 11 when they were up 111% from the same day in 2020. Beach reads anyone?
  • Sweet escape: This year, we’ve been looking to books to transport us to another time, place and world. The top five genres on Google Search for "Best ... books” have included fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, historical fiction and fiction so far in 2021. Meanwhile, others are looking to make this world a little better with “love,” “life,” and “mental health” among the top Google searches for “Books about…” in 2021.
  • Heroes and villains: Who says comics books don’t count? More than 40 states have at least one comic book store among their top ten searched bookstores. Florida leads the pack, with eight comic book stores in its top ten most-searched bookstores on Google Maps.

Give it up for local bookstores 

Now that you have some literary inspiration for your next read, here’s some tips to track down and support independent bookstores near you. And don’t worry, if you’re wondering where you are going to store and display your latest novels — you’re not alone. In January, search interest for “bookcase” hit an all time high. Here’s tips to keep those home libraries growing while showing some local bookstore love.

  1. Discover bookstores near you and save to lists for a future visit. Only halfway through your most recent read, but itching to discover a spot to buy your next one? Use the Explore tab on the Google Maps app to search for bookstores near you. Scroll through the list of local favorites to find information like reviews, hours, location, and even if a bookstore is black-owned or LGBTQ friendly via the attributes on their Business Profile. Once you find a place you love, tap the Save button to add it to an existing list or start a new one for future you.
  2. Follow others on Google Maps for their recommendations.Want to stay in the loop on the newest local bookstores on the block or which book shop has the best used book selection? You can follow bookstore lovers or Local Guides with a literary lean on Google Maps to easily find their recent reviews, recommendations, or photos right in your Updates tab. To follow public profiles simply tap the “follow” button on someone’s profile and get updated when they post reviews or photos. To get you started here’s recommendations from Local Guides on both coasts. If you're in New York City, Local Guides love Book Culture; and for those in Los Angeles some recommend The Book Jewel.
  3. Show love for local bookstores. Leave reviews, add photos, update hours or other missing details about your favorite book stores so other bookworms can discover and learn about the spots you love.

Source: Google LatLong


From widgets to dark mode: 3 updates to Google Maps on iOS

Chocolate or vanilla. 🍦 Crunchy peanut butter or smooth. Androids or iPhones. No matter what your (device) preferences are, Google Maps is here to help you navigate, explore, and get things done as easily as possible. Today, we’re rolling out three new ways to more conveniently access Google Maps’ information about the world right from your iPhone. And while we’re at it, our Googlers are sharing handy tricks you might have forgotten you could do on iOS. 😉


Share your live location right from iMessage

If you’re meeting up with friends or family, you can now share your real-time location while you’re texting so you can stay safe and never miss a beat. Just tap on the Google Maps button in iMessage and —  voilà — your location will be shared for one hour by default, with the option to extend up to three days. To end your share, simply tap the “stop” button on the thumbnail.
A GIF of Location Sharing in iMessage

Share your live location right from iMessage

The information you need, fast

One of Google Maps’ most powerful features is the ability to see live traffic conditions in an area. With the new nearby traffic widget, you can now access this information for your current location right from your home screen. So if you're about to leave home, work, school, or any other place, you’ll know at a glance exactly what traffic is like, and can plan accordingly.

Heading to one of your regular spots? With the new Google Maps search widget, you can search for your favorite places or navigate to frequent destinations with just a quick tap. 

An image of the new Google Maps widgets

Access Google Maps’ helpful information right from your iPhone’s home screen.

To install either widget, make sure you have the latest Google Maps app downloaded from the App store and follow these steps:

  1. From your home screen, touch and hold a widget or an empty area until your apps jiggle.

  2. In the upper-left corner, tap the Add button.

  3. Search for and tap the Google Maps app.

  4. Swipe to select a widget, then tap Add Widget.

  5. Tap Done.

A GIF that shows how to install the new Google Maps widgets on iOS

Hold down an app or empty space on your home screen to start installing your new widgets.

Come to the dark side

Experiencing screen fatigue or want to personalize your app? You’re in luck: dark mode on Google Maps for iOS starts rolling out in the coming weeks so you can give your eyes a break or save on battery life. To turn it on, head to your Settings, tap on dark mode, then select “On”.

A screenshot of Google Maps on iOS in dark mode

Rest your eyes and save your battery life with dark mode in Google Maps on iOS.

But that’s not all. To help you get the most out of Google Maps on iOS, check out these tips — using features both new and old — from the people behind Google Maps.

Photo of a male Googler sitting outside

Stay safe 


Google Maps has a ton of features that help me feel more safe when getting around. Whenever I head to a new place, I make sure to use the “Save my parking location” tool so I’m not wandering around looking for my car, especially if it’s dark out. And the offline maps feature is awesome. If I’m going on a hike or I know I’ll have a spotty connection, I download a map of the area to help me avoid getting lost. - Max Kaplan, Social Media 


A photo of a female Googler in front of a restaurant

Make it YOUR map


Whenever I’m on the hunt for a new restaurant, I use the “Your Match” score to figure out how likely I am to like a spot based on my unique tastes (please tell me they have almond milk) so I never waste time and money on a place I probably won’t enjoy. When I’m looking for things to do, I turn to my Community Feed to get an overview of what’s happening in an area, including helpful information from Local Guides, businesses and articles from some of my favorite publishers like The Infatuation. - Madison Gouveia, Communications


Photo of a male Googler wearing a plaid shirt

Use your map to do good


I’m passionate about supporting a diverse set of businesses, and Google Maps makes it easy to do so. With a quick search, I can find nearby businesses that are Women, Black-owned or LGBT-friendly, and quickly learn more about their products, services, and mission with just a few taps. Then, I use Live View, our AR-powered walking directions, to quickly navigate there.  - Bilawal Sidhu, Product 


Make sure to check out all of today’s newest features, which will be available for everyone using Google Maps on iOS this month.

Source: Google LatLong


Navigate new normals with Google Maps

With the state of the pandemic varying across the globe, the new normal looks different depending on where you go. But no matter your situation, Google Maps has your back with new tools to help you navigate and explore as safely as possible.

Keep your distance on mass transit

It’s no surprise that transit ridership took a drastic plunge during the early days of the pandemic. While people are returning to public transit — with transit directions on Maps increasing 50% compared to last year in the U.S. — safety remains top of mind. That’s why we’re expanding transit crowdedness predictions to over 10,000 transit agencies in 100 countries so you’ll know if your line is likely to have lots of open seats, hit full capacity, or be anywhere in between. With this information you can decide whether you want to hop on board or wait for another train. Because pandemic or not, no one likes standing in a jam-packed subway car. 


These predictions are made possible through our AI technology, contributions from people using Google Maps, and historical location trends that predict future crowdedness levels for transit lines all over the world. All these predictions were designed with privacy in mind. We apply world-class anonymization technology and differential privacy techniques to Location History data to make sure your data remains secure and private.


A GIF of transit crowdedness predictions being used on Google Maps in a Pixel phone

Transit crowdedness predictions are expanding to over 10,000 cities in 100 countries

In New York and Sydney, we’re piloting the ability to see live crowdedness information right down to the transit car level. This feature is powered by data from agencies like Long Island Rail Road and Transport for New South Wales, with more cities coming soon.


So how is transit crowdedness trending across the U.S.? New York City, Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C. lead the pack as some of the cities with the most crowded lines. Nationally, you’re most likely to get a seat at 9 a.m, whereas cars may be standing room only between 7-8 a.m. In the evening, leaving earlier than rush hour will up your chances of grabbing a seat, with lines being far less crowded at 3 p.m. than they are between 4-5 p.m.


A screenshot of a Pixel phone that shows transit directions and crowdedness predictions on Google Maps

See live crowdedness at the transit car level in Sydney and New York

Be intentional with your time

After living through a global pandemic, people have told us that they want to be more intentional about how they spend their time. The new Timeline Insights tab, which is visible only to you, can help you do just that. If you're an Android user and you’ve chosen to turn on Location History, you’ll see a new tab in your Timeline (just tap on your profile photo, then Your Timeline to find it) that provides monthly trends about how you’re navigating the world. You’ll see which modes of transportation you’ve used and the distance and time you’ve driven, flown, biked or walked. You can also see how much time you’re spending at different places — like shops, airports and restaurants — and instantly drill down to see all the places you visited.

A GIF of Google Maps’ new Timeline Insights feature on a Pixel phone

See helpful insights and trends about places you visit

Reminisce about past trips and plan future ones when you feel safe

If you’re feeling nostalgic but not quite ready to travel yet, head on over to the Trips in Timeline tab which is now live for everyone on Android. Use Trips in Timeline to relive parts of past vacations, like which hotels you stayed at during that epic trip to Tokyo or the restaurants you visited on your weekend getaway. Planning ahead? Export these places to a list and share them with friends who need travel recommendations.

A GIF of Google Maps’ Trips in Timeline feature on a Pixel phone

Use Trips in Timeline to reminisce about past trips and plan new ones

If you want to edit your information, you can easily manage your data — in bulk, in-line, or with auto-delete controls — right from your private Timeline.

Leave more detailed reviews

We’re making it even easier to keep your community up to date and support local businesses with reviews. Now when you leave a review for a restaurant, you’ll see prompts to share useful information, such as price ranges or if you got takeout or delivery. Best of all: You can answer with just a few quick taps. This is now live for all restaurants in the U.S. on Android and is rolling out to iOS, with more categories and countries on the way.

A GIF showing new prompts you can answer on Google Maps to share even more helpful information about a business.

Share helpful information about a restaurant with a few easy taps

Navigating this ever-changing ‘normal’ will take some getting used to, but Google Maps is here to help you get your bearings. Check out a few more helpful tips to help you plan and get around — whether you’re using Google Maps on Android or iOS.

Source: Google LatLong


8 tips to navigate and explore safely with Google Maps

With the state of the pandemic varying around the world, keeping up with local restrictions, navigating day-to-day life and easing back into activities we enjoy can feel confusing and unfamiliar. 

To help with that, we’ve pulled together Google Maps tips — including new features and product updates — to help you safely plan your next outing, navigate how and when to get things done, and relive past adventures or plan for future ones when the time is right:

  1. Plan ahead if you’re taking public transit: Before heading out, check to see how crowded your bus, train, or subway car is likely to be — so you’ll know if you’re likely to grab a seat or if you should wait for another train. You’ll be able to see transit crowdedness predictions for over 10,000 transit agencies in 100 countries around the world.
  2. Find the latest information about COVID-19:Whether you’re staying close to home or taking a trip, use the COVID layer to see how cases are trending in an area. You can also access quick links to trusted local resources so you’ll know at a glance if there are specific guidelines or restrictions you need to follow.
  3. Avoid crowds with live busyness information: Before you go, search for your destination on Google Maps, then scroll down on the Business Profile to see how busy a place typically is or how busy it is right now. With busyness information, you’ll know instantly you’re about to face a long line or a big crowd and can adjust your plans accordingly. 
  4. Reserve your spot:Many places are now appointment only. You can reserve your spot ahead of time right from Google Maps with participating businesses. Simply search for the business, check upcoming availability, and book! If you need to change something, manage upcoming reservations and bookings within the Saved tab of the Google Maps app.
  5. Tap and go with contactless payments: Pay for things likestreet parking or public transit right from Google Maps without having to pull out your wallet or touch a parking meter. For street parking, type in your meter number, hit pay and refill while you’re out and about. For public transportation, a payment option will pop up once you arrive at any public transit, then tap your phone to pay. 
  6. Know before you go:Check out local places’ Business Profiles on Google Maps to see information like operating hours, current COVID-19 safety precautions, trending dishes and reviews. 
  7. Leave a review: Support local businesses you love and leave a review on Google! Now you can tap on prompts to quickly share helpful information for any restaurant in the U.S. — like the average price range or whether you dined in or ordered takeout. 
  8. Reminisce on past trips: Figure out where you want to go next by taking a look at where you’ve been with the Trips tab. Available to all Android users, you can now use the Trips tab to transport yourself back in time to that one dinner in Italy (you know the one) or that epic camping weekend in Big Sur. Become everyone’s go-to travel guide and export these places to a list to share.

Source: Google LatLong


The complete Google guide to summer 2021

The sun is shining, the days are getting longer and more and more U.S. cities are reopening — it’s official, summer 2021 is almost here. Right on time, vacation fever has hit: Google searches for “summer vacation” and “sunscreen” are seeing a major spike, and those are just a couple of the many interesting Google Trends we’ve been seeing. So we decided to collect some of this information to bring you Google’s Guide to Summer: You’ll find trending travel spots, must-eat-at restaurants and tips for finding the perfect summer gear. 

To find what places are turning into vacation destinations, we looked at places with the highest percentage growth in hotel searches, comparing April 2021 to April 2019. These 10 cities saw the biggest bump in interest: 

Infographic showing the top 10 trending vacation destinations.

If you’re planning a trip to one of these places, the next step is deciding where to eat while you’re there. Hidden Gem restaurants are verified restaurants on Google Maps with high ratings from fewer people — which could help you avoid crowds and get an amazing meal. Check out these Hidden Gems from each of the cities listed above: 

Infographic listing the top three hidden gem restaurants in each top tending vacation destination.

If you’re not ready to travel by plane, you’re not alone. Many people are looking into alternative transportation options or even local options, such as… 

  • 🚌Glamour-BUS travels:In the U.S., there are over 60% more RV-related searches on Google Maps than there were a year ago. The metro areas most interested were Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and Denver. 

  • 🏖️ Beachy keen:As the weather heats up, U.S. Maps searches for “beaches” are up over 40% compared to May 2020, and searches for "parks" are up over 50%. 

  • 🏕Happy campers: Camping-related searches on Maps are trending up nearly 90% compared to this time last year. The top five areas interested in camping are Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Denver and Seattle.

  • 🚲 Tourists on tires: People are using Google Maps for cycling directions 44% more than they were in 2020. According to our cycling direction data, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C. are the cities with the most cyclists. 

Infographic showing the top airline alternative forms of travel.

Whether you hit the road (or skies) or stay put, you’ll want to grab the right gear. Try these Google Shopping power tips to find whatever you need for summer:

  • Check if you’re getting a “good” price on that retro cooler: On a Shopping product page, you’ll see a price bar showing whether the price you’re seeing for that product is high, low or typical, compared to current prices from across the web and in nearby stores.

  • See if an inflatable pool (or whatever else) is in stock at local stores:With Google Shopping, you can search for a product, like inflatable pools, and apply the “Nearby” filter (or include “near me” in your search) to show results from local retailers on a helpful map display, along with an indication of whether the product is in-stock. 

Image showing a popsicle floatie floating in a pool.
  • Compare prices and shipping options for a summer koozie:Once you’ve found your favorite koozie, scroll down on the product page and tap “Compare prices” to see all of the prices and shipping options from online and local retailers for that product. You’ll also see whether a retailer offers curbside pickup and/or the option to buy online/pickup in store.

  • Use filters to find the perfect sunscreen (or other beauty products):On Google Shopping you can easily use filters to find the type of product you’re looking for. When you search “sunscreen” you can simply scroll down and on the left hand side you’ll find rating filters under “Product Rating” such as four stars and above.

  • Get summer picnic or beach ideas and see product availability on Google:Google Images is a great place to find summer inspo. You can see availability information so you know if the item you're looking for is actually in stock. You can even use Lens to find that retro beach towel or picnic blanket your friend or your favorite celeb has. Once you find it, Google will give you options for how to buy it.

Consider yourself set for the summer!

Source: Google LatLong


The complete Google guide to summer 2021

The sun is shining, the days are getting longer and more and more U.S. cities are reopening — it’s official, summer 2021 is almost here. Right on time, vacation fever has hit: Google searches for “summer vacation” and “sunscreen” are seeing a major spike, and those are just a couple of the many interesting Google Trends we’ve been seeing. So we decided to collect some of this information to bring you Google’s Guide to Summer: You’ll find trending travel spots, must-eat-at restaurants and tips for finding the perfect summer gear. 

To find what places are turning into vacation destinations, we looked at places with the highest percentage growth in hotel searches, comparing April 2021 to April 2019. These 10 cities saw the biggest bump in interest: 

Infographic showing the top 10 trending vacation destinations.

If you’re planning a trip to one of these places, the next step is deciding where to eat while you’re there. Hidden Gem restaurants are verified restaurants on Google Maps with high ratings from fewer people — which could help you avoid crowds and get an amazing meal. Check out these Hidden Gems from each of the cities listed above: 

Infographic listing the top three hidden gem restaurants in each top tending vacation destination.

If you’re not ready to travel by plane, you’re not alone. Many people are looking into alternative transportation options or even local options, such as… 

  • 🚌Glamour-BUS travels:In the U.S., there are over 60% more RV-related searches on Google Maps than there were a year ago. The metro areas most interested were Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas and Denver. 

  • 🏖️ Beachy keen:As the weather heats up, U.S. Maps searches for “beaches” are up over 40% compared to May 2020, and searches for "parks" are up over 50%. 

  • 🏕Happy campers: Camping-related searches on Maps are trending up nearly 90% compared to this time last year. The top five areas interested in camping are Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Denver and Seattle.

  • 🚲 Tourists on tires: People are using Google Maps for cycling directions 44% more than they were in 2020. According to our cycling direction data, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C. are the cities with the most cyclists. 

Infographic showing the top airline alternative forms of travel.

Whether you hit the road (or skies) or stay put, you’ll want to grab the right gear. Try these Google Shopping power tips to find whatever you need for summer:

  • Check if you’re getting a “good” price on that retro cooler: On a Shopping product page, you’ll see a price bar showing whether the price you’re seeing for that product is high, low or typical, compared to current prices from across the web and in nearby stores.

  • See if an inflatable pool (or whatever else) is in stock at local stores:With Google Shopping, you can search for a product, like inflatable pools, and apply the “Nearby” filter (or include “near me” in your search) to show results from local retailers on a helpful map display, along with an indication of whether the product is in-stock. 

Image showing a popsicle floatie floating in a pool.
  • Compare prices and shipping options for a summer koozie:Once you’ve found your favorite koozie, scroll down on the product page and tap “Compare prices” to see all of the prices and shipping options from online and local retailers for that product. You’ll also see whether a retailer offers curbside pickup and/or the option to buy online/pickup in store.

  • Use filters to find the perfect sunscreen (or other beauty products):On Google Shopping you can easily use filters to find the type of product you’re looking for. When you search “sunscreen” you can simply scroll down and on the left hand side you’ll find rating filters under “Product Rating” such as four stars and above.

  • Get summer picnic or beach ideas and see product availability on Google:Google Images is a great place to find summer inspo. You can see availability information so you know if the item you're looking for is actually in stock. You can even use Lens to find that retro beach towel or picnic blanket your friend or your favorite celeb has. Once you find it, Google will give you options for how to buy it.

Consider yourself set for the summer!

Source: Google LatLong


Street by street: How we’re mapping air quality in Europe

Since 2015, dozens of Street View cars outfitted with pollution sensors have been cruising the roads to track air quality in cities all over the world — from Oakland to Sydney. Over the past six years, these cars have collected more than 100 million street-by-street air quality measurements, all for Project Air View — our effort to bring detailed air quality maps to scientists, policymakers and everyday people. These hyperlocal air quality measurements are helping governments and communities make more informed choices about changes that can help city residents breathe cleaner air.


In celebration of EU Green Week next week,we are sharing a new air quality map for Copenhagen and recently started working with the City of Dublin to collect air quality measurements with Aclima technology in our first-ever, all-electric Street View car. This is all part of Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), our free tool that provides thousands of cities with actionable data and insights to reduce their emissions.


Capturing air quality in Copenhagen

In 2018, we started mapping hyperlocal air quality in Copenhagen, working closely with the City of Copenhagen and Utrecht University, in collaboration with Aarhus University. The map — which is already being put to use —  includes measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), black carbon, and ultrafine particles. Through mapping street-by-street air quality we found that Copenhagen’s major access roads have nearly three times more ultrafine particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and five times higher black carbon levels when compared to less trafficked residential areas.
This air quality map shows the street-by-street average of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Utrecht University & Google, 2021.

This air quality map shows the street-by-street average of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Utrecht University & Google, 2021.

Armed with these air quality insights, the City of Copenhagen and urban planners are working to design future neighborhoods that include “Thrive Zones.” These zones aim to build places, like schools and playgrounds, away from high-pollution zones to provide young children with access to cleaner air. The city also plans to use the air quality data to encourage more sustainable transportation and create healthier bicycle and walking routes away from car traffic.


An all-electric Street View car hits the road in Dublin

We’ve also partnered with the City of Dublin to gather hyperlocal air quality measurements in Ireland’s capital, where our first all-electric Street View vehicle, a Jaguar I-PACE, has hit the roads. This is the first time an all-electric Google Street View car is being used to capture air pollution and greenhouse gas measurements and Google Street View imagery — a feat made possible due to Jaguar Land Rover engineers integrating Google's Street View technology and specialized Aclima sensors into the vehicle.

Our Jaguar I-PACE is able to measure nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitric oxide (NO), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and ozone (O3). Aclima’s platform analyzes and quality assures pollution measurements to develop these maps.


The road ahead

Project Air View’s air quality insights will be integrated into the European Commission-funded  European Expanse project, which is exploring how pollution is impacting the health of Europeans and how hyperlocal air quality measurement efforts can inform policy development.


We also plan to equip more Street View cars with air quality mapping capabilities so that we can continue sharing hyperlocal air quality insights. By mapping air quality in more cities, we can equip people with the information they need to create more sustainable cities that protect the health of everyone.


Source: Google LatLong


How anyone can make Maps more accessible

With Google Maps, we want to make it easier to get around, explore and get things done for everyone  — and that includes people with disabilities. One way that we make sure our Maps have up-to-date information about details, like if a restaurant has tables suitable for people who use wheelchairs, is through our community of Local Guides. In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’re sharing tips from some of these people about how anyone can contribute to a more accessible world — both on and off of the map.

Make an accessibility checklist for your reviews

When you add a review on Google Maps you can create your own template or accessibility checklist to make sure you have the most helpful details covered.

Tushar Suradkar, a Local Guide from India, created a system that helps him make sure all of his reviews covers the accessibility details he cares about — like if a place has tactile paths for the visually impaired, ramp access, and wheelchair-accessible entrances, restrooms, parking and elevators. Each time he leaves a review, he fills in a self-created template that makes these details clear and noticeable so people looking for this information can spot it.
A screenshot of a review on Google Maps from Local Guide Tushar Suradkar showing his accessibility checklist.

Tushar’s accessibility checklist used on Google Maps reviews.

Add accessibility attributes to your business or places you’ve visited

After visiting a place or business, you can help indicate which accessibility features a place has — like whether it has a wheelchair-accessible entrance, wheelchair-accessible restroom, wheelchair-accessible parking — by answering questions about the business on the Google Maps app.  

And if you’re a business owner or manager with a verified Business Profile on Google, you can add attributes to your Business Profile on Search and Maps. In addition to existing accessibility attributes, we recently added the assistive hearing loop attribute that indicates if somewhere, like a movie theater or library, has a sound system that is compatible with hearing aids. If attributes aren’t relevant to your business, you have even more ways you can make your business more accessible by using tools such as Live Transcribe, Live Caption, and TalkBack on Android.
A screenshot of Google Maps showing the accessibility attributes for a business.

Accessibility attributes displayed on Google Maps.

Create lists to curate accessible places on Google Maps

Another way to share local knowledge is by creating public lists on Google Maps. You can make lists of places like accessible museums in your city or the most wheelchair accessible restaurants in your neighborhood.  

Asongfac Lily Rospeen

https://www.google.com/maps/contrib/103416225837227540012/photos/@4.1565607,9.2887255,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m3!8m2!3m1!1e1

, a Local Guide from the Southwest region of Cameroon, curates lists like her Accessibility Buea list that includes wheelchair accessible banks, hotels, hospitals, bookshops, pharmacies, and supermarkets in her city.

Spread the word about accessibility 

Let others know about all the ways they can contribute to Maps to make it more accessible through attributes, reviews and more. Take inspiration from the Local Guides community. 

Emeka Ulor, a Local Guide from Nigeria, has rallied other people to add accessibility data to Google Maps and help make it more inclusive. He started the One Accessibility project, recruiting more than 20 volunteers and hosting more than 100 meet-ups to encourage people to add accessibility information to Google Maps. His reviews include information about wheelchair accessible parking, entrances, restrooms, lighting, Braille and seating to help inform people about the accessibility of their destination.

You can read more about these Local Guides and how others in the community are making Google Maps more accessible on Connect, our blog and forum for Local Guides.

Source: Google LatLong


Search, explore and shop the world’s information, powered by AI

AI advancements push the boundaries of what Google products can do. Nowhere is this clearer than at the core of our mission to make information more accessible and useful for everyone.

We've spent more than two decades developing not just a better understanding of information on the web, but a better understanding of the world. Because when we understand information, we can make it more helpful — whether you’re a remote student learning a complex new subject, a caregiver looking for trusted information on COVID vaccines or a parent searching for the best route home.

Deeper understanding with MUM

One of the hardest problems for search engines today is helping you with complex tasks — like planning what to do on a family outing. These often require multiple searches to get the information you need. In fact, we find that it takes people eight searches on average to complete complex tasks.

With a new technology called Multitask Unified Model, or MUM, we're able to better understand much more complex questions and needs, so in the future, it will require fewer searches to get things done. Like BERT, MUM is built on a Transformer architecture, but it’s 1,000 times more powerful and can multitask in order to unlock information in new ways. MUM not only understands language, but also generates it. It’s trained across 75 different languages and many different tasks at once, allowing it to develop a more comprehensive understanding of information and world knowledge than previous models. And MUM is multimodal, so it understands information across text and images and in the future, can expand to more modalities like video and audio.

Imagine a question like: “I’ve hiked Mt. Adams and now want to hike Mt. Fuji next fall, what should I do differently to prepare?” This would stump search engines today, but in the future, MUM could understand this complex task and generate a response, pointing to highly relevant results to dive deeper. We’ve already started internal pilots with MUM and are excited about its potential for improving Google products.

Information comes to life with Lens and AR

People come to Google to learn new things, and visuals can make all the difference. Google Lens lets you search what you see — from your camera, your photos or even your search bar. Today we’re seeing more than 3 billion searches with Lens every month, and an increasingly popular use case is learning. For example, many students might have schoolwork in a language they aren't very familiar with. That’s why we’re updating the Translate filter in Lens so it’s easy to copy, listen to or search translated text, helping students access education content from the web in over 100 languages.

Animated GIF showing Google Lens’s Translate filter applied to homework.

AR is also a powerful tool for visual learning. With the new AR athletes in Search, you can see signature moves from some of your favorite athletes in AR — like Simone Biles’s famous balance beam routine.

Animated GIF showing Simone Biles’s balance beam routine surfaced by the AR athletes in Search feature.

Evaluate information with About This Result 

Helpful information should be credible and reliable, and especially during moments like the pandemic or elections, people turn to Google for trustworthy information. 

Our ranking systems are designed to prioritize high-quality information, but we also help you evaluate the credibility of sources, right in Google Search. Our About This Result feature provides details about a website before you visit it, including its description, when it was first indexed and whether your connection to the site is secure. 

Animated GIF showing the About This Result features applied to the query "How to invest in ETFs."

This month, we’ll start rolling out About This Result to all English results worldwide, with more languages to come. Later this year, we’ll add even more detail, like how a site describes itself, what other sources are saying about it and related articles to check out. 

Exploring the real world with Maps

Google Maps transformed how people navigate, explore and get things done in the world — and we continue to push the boundaries of what a map can be with industry-first features like AR navigation in Live View at scale. We recently announced we’re on track to launch over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps by the end of year, and today, we’re introducing a few of the newest ones. Our new routing updates are designed to reduce the likelihood of hard-braking on your drive using machine learning and historical navigation information — which we believe could eliminate over 100 million hard-braking events in routes driven with Google Maps each year.

If you’re looking for things to do, our more tailored map will spotlight relevant places based on time of day and whether or not you’re traveling. Enhancements to Live View and detailed street maps will help you explore and get a deep understanding of an area as quickly as possible. And if you want to see how busy neighborhoods and parts of town are, you’ll be able to do this at a glance as soon as you open Maps.

More ways to shop with Google 

People are shopping across Google more than a billion times per day, and our AI-enhanced Shopping Graph — our deep understanding of products, sellers, brands, reviews, product information and inventory data — powers many features that help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Because shopping isn’t always a linear experience, we’re introducing new ways to explore and keep track of products. Now, when you take a screenshot, Google Photos will prompt you to search the photo with Lens, so you can immediately shop for that item if you want. And on Chrome, we’ll help you keep track of shopping carts you’ve begun to fill, so you can easily resume your virtual shopping trip. We're also working with retailers to surface loyalty benefits for customers earlier, to help inform their decisions.

Last year we made it free for merchants to sell their products on Google. Now, we’re introducing a new, simplified process that helps Shopify’s 1.7 million merchants make their products discoverable across Google in just a few clicks.  

Whether we’re understanding the world’s information, or helping you understand it too, we’re dedicated to making our products more useful every day. And with the power of AI, no matter how complex your task, we’ll be able to bring you the highest quality, most relevant results. 

Source: Google LatLong


A smoother ride and a more detailed Map thanks to AI

AI is a critical part of what makes Google Maps so helpful. With it, we’re able to map roads over 10 times faster than we could five years ago, and we can bring maps filled with useful information to virtually every corner of the world. Today, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how AI makes two of the features we announced at I/O possible.

Teaching Maps to identify and forecast when people are hitting the brakes

Let’s start with our routing update that helps you avoid situations that cause you to slam on the brakes, such as confusing lane changes or freeway exits. We use AI and navigation information to identify hard-braking events — moments that cause drivers to decelerate sharply and are known indicators of car crash likelihood — and then suggest alternate routes when available. We believe these updates have the potential to eliminate over 100 million hard-braking events in routes driven with Google Maps each year. But how exactly do we find when and where these moments are likely to occur?


That’s where AI comes in. To do this, we train our machine learning models on two sets of data. The first set of information comes from phones using Google Maps. Mobile phone sensors can determine deceleration along a route, but this data is highly prone to false alarms because your phone can move independently of your car. This is what makes it hard for our systems to decipher you tossing your phone into the cupholder or accidentally dropping it on the floor from an actual hard-braking moment. To combat this, we also use information from routes driven with Google Maps when it's projected on a car’s display, like Android Auto. This represents a relatively small subset of data, but it’s highly accurate because Maps is now tethered to a stable spot — your car display. Training our models on both sets of data makes it possible to spot actual deceleration moments from fake ones, making detection across all trips more accurate. 


Understanding spots along a route that are likely to cause hard-braking is just one part of the equation. We’re also working to identify other contextual factors that lead to hard-braking events, like construction or visibility conditions. For example, if there’s a sudden increase in hard-braking events along a route during a certain time of day when people are likely to be driving toward the glare of the sun, our system could detect those events and offer alternate routes. These details inform future routing so we can suggest safer, smoother routes.

Using AI to go beyond driving

When you’re walking or biking or taking public transit, AI is also there helping you move along safely and easily. Last August we launched detailed street maps which show accurate road widths, along with details about where the sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian islands are in an area so people can better understand its layout and how to navigate it. Today, we announced that detailed street maps will expand to 50 more cities by the end of 2021. While this sounds straightforward, a lot is going on under the hood — especially with AI — to make this possible! 

A GIF that shows a before and after comparison of detailed streets maps built from satellite imagery

A before and after comparison of detailed streets maps built from satellite imagery

Imagine that you’re taking a stroll down a typical San Francisco street. As you approach the intersection, you’ll notice that the crosswalk uses a “zebra” pattern — vertical stripes that show you where to walk. But if you were in another city, say London, then parallel dotted lines would define the crosswalks. To account for these differences and accurately display them on the map, our systems need to know what crosswalks look like — not just in one city but across the entire world. It gets even trickier since urban design can change at the country, state, and even city level.

To expand globally and account for local differences, we needed to completely revamp our mapmaking process. Traditionally, we’ve approached mapmaking like baking a cake — one layer at a time. We trained machine learning models to identify and classify features one by one across our index of millions of Street View, satellite and aerial images — starting first with roads, then addresses, buildings and so on. 

But detailed street maps require significantly more granularity and precision than a normal map. To map these dense urban features correctly, we’ve updated our models to identify all objects in a scene at once. This requires a ton of AI smarts. The model has to understand not only what the objects are, but the relationships between them — like where exactly a street ends and a sidewalk begins. With these new full-scene models, we're able to detect and classify broad sets of features at a time without sacrificing accuracy, allowing us to map a single city faster than ever before. 


An image of Google Maps’ single-feature AI models

Single-feature AI model that classifies buildings.

An image of Google Maps’ full-scene AI models

Full-scene AI models that capture multiple categories of objects at once.


Once we have a model trained on a particular city, we can then expand it to other cities with similar urban designs. For example, the sidewalks, curbs, and traffic lights look similar in Atlanta and Ho Chi Minh City — despite being over 9,000 miles away. And the same model works in Madrid as it does in Dallas, something that may be hard to believe at first glance. With our new advanced machine learning techniques combined with our collection of high-definition imagery, we’re on track to bring a level of detail to the map at scale like never before.

AI will continue to play an important role as we build the most helpful map for people around the globe. For more behind-the-scenes looks at the technology that powers Google Maps, check out the rest of our Maps 101 blog series.

More from this Series

Maps 101

Google Maps helps you navigate, explore, and get things done every single day. In this series, we’ll take a look under the hood at how Google Maps uses technology to build helpful products—from using flocks of sheep and laser beams to gather high-definition imagery to predicting traffic jams that haven’t even happened yet.

View more from Maps 101

Source: Google LatLong