Tag Archives: Maps

The tale of the Dutch bookstore, the pivot and the Golden Pin

Bookstore Dominicanen can be found in a former Dominican church in the city of Maastricht, a thriving cultural hub and one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands. Before COVID, the bookstore welcomed almost one million visitors a year. They mostly relied on customers visiting in person to shop for a good read or to enjoy a coffee while admiring the store’s vault paintings and the unique 14th century fresco depicting scenes from Thomas Aquinas’ life. And then the pandemic hit.


The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on businesses worldwide but it also sparked creativity and accelerated many businesses' use of digital tools. In The Netherlands for example, 81% of Dutch SMEs made more use of digital tools to stay in touch with their customers during the lockdown and inform them about changes in their services. 


Dominicanen was one such business to respond to the continuously changing circumstances, something that was recognised by Google with the awarding of the Golden Pin Award.


What are the Golden Pin Awards?


In summer 2021, the Google Netherlands team awarded Golden Pin Awards to twelve inspiring entrepreneurs across the country who managed to continue their services during the pandemic with creativity and the smart use of digital resources whilst receiving high user reviews on their Business Profiles on Google Maps and Search. The list of winners was diverse: from agame store to aknife sharpener, and from a fair fashion clothing shop to a brewery cafe

The winners all demonstrated creativity in continuing to offer their services both online and offline, ranging from pop up drive-through restaurants to online tastings and fitting sessions for women’s clothing on YouTube.

Bookshop owner Ton Harmes stands in front of bookcases holding his Golden Pin trophy from Google

Bookstore owner Ton Harmes with his Golden Pin

How did Bookstore Dominicanen pivot?


For the owner, Ton Harmes, the key was perseverance. With the store having to close during the busiest weeks of the year - right in the middle of the holiday season - they had to adapt to survive. Their staff and volunteers immediately started delivering books by foot, bicycle and car. They also set up a takeout counter (offering click and collect online) and when numbers of visitors were limited, they decided to launch a pop-up store: Do(mini)canen.


Online, they invested heavily in their visibility on Google and in their social channels to keep in touch with their customers. Prioritising keeping their Business Profile on Google Maps and Search up to date, they were always able to indicate the changes in shopping times and services. Every change was immediately visible for their customers. They also started streaming book presentations and interviews with writers live on YouTube and communicated a lot more through all social media to keep customers informed.


Ton is convinced that the internet will continue to play a role in their business operations now they have reopened. Speaking to The Keyword he said, ‘We realized that with a million visitors a year, it seems like you don't really need these ‘modern developments’. But when we closed it was suddenly dead quiet in the store. Then we realized how vulnerable we are if we rely solely on in-person customers and that we have to develop our digital channels faster. We now see online, even after corona, playing an increasingly important role in our contacts with customers - for both engagement and actually finding us. Our YouTube channel has received a boost and we keep reaching out to customers through our social channels. The crisis has really caused a change in our mindset.’


The Golden Pin Award has been given a special place in the store and serves as a reminder for the perseverance and pivoting that had to be done. Their ability to continue to conduct business through the worst of it is down to what Ton refers to as ‘Haw Pin’: Hold on.

Finding belonging in Google’s Aboriginal and Indigenous Network

In 2013, the Google Earth Outreach team reached out to me with a request. They had been invited to partner on a mapping project in western Canada, and were looking for a Googler who could contribute an Indigenous perspective on cultural protocol. They asked if I would  be interested in helping. “Absolutely!” was my immediate response. I’m  Kanien'kehá ka, (Mohawk) and there have been times in my life and my workplace where it felt like there wasn’t space for me to be Indigenous. This was a great opportunity to lean in. There was also pressure: I could bring my perspective from my community but Indigenous communities are incredibly diverse. I hoped my Indigenous Studies degree would help me.

But the experience was a success and led to more participation in projects in the Indigenous space at Google.  Since 2015, I’ve been one of the five people who lead Google’s Aboriginal and Indigenous Network (GAIN), an employee-run group that gives Indigenous Googlers a safe place to nurture our communities. 

Finding belonging in a workplace with a large, diverse population can be difficult. We often bend and mould ourselves to fit others’ expectations. It’s hard to be authentic. It’s hard to hold to our core values, and what truly makes us who we are. But I found this in GAIN.

GAIN is a place where we can  grow and support one another. But it’s more than that. This group ensures that our communities outside of Google thrive, too. GAIN understands that the individual, family and community are all connected. No one thrives in isolation, and that’s what powers GAIN.

This work was about self-determination, and starting the process of decolonization through community empowerment.

Some work GAIN has done that we're proudest of involves creating and launching initiatives in areas like hiring, recruiting, retention, wellness, cultural events and internet connectivity in Indigenous communities. We work to shed light on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls campaigns , support Indigenous small businesses, and promote racial equity and justice initiatives. GAIN has also helped highlight educational tools such as training with ComIT, online STEMprogramming and Grow with Google, which worked with elementary school students in their local library and makerspace in Iqaluit.

We’re also working to make space for the Indigenous community internally. We have film screenings of independent Indigenous films, and have invited film makers from Wapikoni to host a discussion. Bob Joseph spoke to Googlers about what we may not know about the Indian Act, and the Cloud Sales team purchased his book for their entire team. More than 80 people in the Canadian offices are attending the University of Alberta’s free course on Indigenous Canada together. 

But it was with that original Google Maps project that I found a true home. The purpose of this work is to identify Indigenous territories on Google Maps, and recognizing Indigenous independent sovereignties in the same way as other governments do on Google Maps. We also encourage Indigenous populations to take ownership of how their bands and cultures are presented online through StreetView, Earth and Maps. 

When the Firelight Group (an Indigenous-owned consulting group) founded the Indigenous Mapping Workshop in 2014, they invited Google Earth Outreach as a partner and I was a member of the inaugural planning committee. We brought together 100 participants from Indigenous communities to teach them the tools needed to map out the locations their families rely on for hunting, gathering, trapping and fishing. In these workshops, we taught them how to put their own stories on their own maps, and encouraged them to take what they learned back to their communities. Maps are incredibly powerful tools in the hands of Indigenous communities, especially when they allow for our Indigenous worldview, and our Indigenous stories to be told.

This work was about self-determination, and starting the process of decolonization through community empowerment. We’ve supported Indigenous Mapping Workshops throughout Canada each year since 2014. Last year, the Indigenous Mapping Workshop went virtual and had more than 400 attendees. We expect more than 500 virtual attendees at this year’s conference, with over 100 training sessions. We’ve supported Indigenous Mapping Workshops in Australia and New Zealand as well. 

This opportunity was amazing. It is an honour to spend time with other First Nations, Elders and community members. Being welcomed into communities and sharing their stories is not a gift I’ll soon forget. I am so humbled to be able to help bring these tools, stories and Indigenous voices together. 

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


#IamaGDE: Diana Rodríguez Manrique

#IamaGDE series presents: Google Maps Platform

Welcome to #IamaGDE - a series of spotlights presenting Google Developer Experts (GDEs) from across the globe. Discover their stories, passions, and highlights of their community work.

Today, meet Diana Rodríguez— Maps, Web, Cloud, and Firebase GDE.

Google Developer Expert, Diana Rodríguez

Diana Rodríguez’s 20 years in the tech industry have been focused on community and making accessible content. She is a full-stack developer with experience in backend infrastructure, automation, and a passion for Python. A self-taught programmer, Diana also learned programming skills from attending meetups and being an active member of her local developer community. She is the first female Venezuelan GDE.

“I put a lot of myself into public speaking, workshops, and articles,” says Diana. “I want to make everything I do as open and transparent as possible.”

Diana’s first foray into working with Google Maps was in 2016, when she built an app that helped record institutional violence against women in Argentina. As a freelance developer, she uses the Google Maps Platform for her delivery services clients.

“I have plenty of clients who need not only location tracking for their delivery fleet, but also to provide specific routes,” says Diana.

“The level of interaction that’s been added to Maps has made it easier for me as a developer to work with direct clients,” says Diana, who uses the Plus Codes feature to help delivery drivers find precise locations on a map. “I’m a heavy user of plus codes. They give people in remote areas and underserved communities the chance to have location services, including emergency and delivery services.”

Getting involved in the developer community

Diana first became involved in the developer community 20 years ago, in 1999, beginning with a university user group. She attended her first Devfest in Bangkok in 2010 and has worked in multiple developer communities since then. She was a co-organizer of GDG Triangle and is now an organizer of GDG Durham in North Carolina. In 2020, she gave virtual talks to global audiences.

“It’s been great to get to know other communities and reach the far corners of the Earth,” she says.

Image of Diana Rodriguez

Favorite Google Maps Platform features and current projects

Diana is excited about the Places API and the Maps team’s continuous improvements. She says the Maps team keeps the GDEs up to date on all the latest news and takes their feedback very seriously.

“Shoutout to Claire, Alex, and Angela, who are in direct contact with us, and everyone who works with them; they have been amazing,” she says. “I look forward to showcasing more upcoming changes. What comes next will be mind-blowing, immersing people into location in a different way that is more interactive.”

Of the new features released in June 2020, which include Cloud-based maps styling and Local Context, Diana says, “Having the freedom to customize the experience a lot more is amazing.”

As a Maps GDE in 2021, Diana plans to continue working on open source tech projects that benefit the greater good, like her recently completed app for Diabetes users, ScoutX, which notifies emergency contacts when a Diabetic person’s blood glucose values are too high or too low, in case they need immediate help.

She envisions an app that expands connectivity and geolocation tracking for hikers in remote areas, using LoRaWan technologies that can withstand harsh temperatures and conditions.

“Imagine you go to Yellowstone and get lost, with no GPS signal or phone signal, but there’s a tracking device connected to a LoRaWan network sending your location,” Diana says. “It’s much easier for rescue services to find you. Rack Wireless is working on providing satellite access, as well, and having precise latitude and longitude makes mapping simple.”

In the future, Diana sees herself managing a team that makes groundbreaking discoveries and puts technologies to use to help other people.

Follow Diana on Twitter at @cotufa82

Check out Diana’s projects on GitHub

For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit our website.

For more information on Google Developer Experts, visit our website.

#IamaGDE: Diana Rodríguez Manrique

#IamaGDE series presents: Google Maps Platform

Welcome to #IamaGDE - a series of spotlights presenting Google Developer Experts (GDEs) from across the globe. Discover their stories, passions, and highlights of their community work.

Today, meet Diana Rodríguez— Maps, Web, Cloud, and Firebase GDE.

Google Developer Expert, Diana Rodríguez

Diana Rodríguez’s 20 years in the tech industry have been focused on community and making accessible content. She is a full-stack developer with experience in backend infrastructure, automation, and a passion for Python. A self-taught programmer, Diana also learned programming skills from attending meetups and being an active member of her local developer community. She is the first female Venezuelan GDE.

“I put a lot of myself into public speaking, workshops, and articles,” says Diana. “I want to make everything I do as open and transparent as possible.”

Diana’s first foray into working with Google Maps was in 2016, when she built an app that helped record institutional violence against women in Argentina. As a freelance developer, she uses the Google Maps Platform for her delivery services clients.

“I have plenty of clients who need not only location tracking for their delivery fleet, but also to provide specific routes,” says Diana.

“The level of interaction that’s been added to Maps has made it easier for me as a developer to work with direct clients,” says Diana, who uses the Plus Codes feature to help delivery drivers find precise locations on a map. “I’m a heavy user of plus codes. They give people in remote areas and underserved communities the chance to have location services, including emergency and delivery services.”

Getting involved in the developer community

Diana first became involved in the developer community 20 years ago, in 1999, beginning with a university user group. She attended her first Devfest in Bangkok in 2010 and has worked in multiple developer communities since then. She was a co-organizer of GDG Triangle and is now an organizer of GDG Durham in North Carolina. In 2020, she gave virtual talks to global audiences.

“It’s been great to get to know other communities and reach the far corners of the Earth,” she says.

Image of Diana Rodriguez

Favorite Google Maps Platform features and current projects

Diana is excited about the Places API and the Maps team’s continuous improvements. She says the Maps team keeps the GDEs up to date on all the latest news and takes their feedback very seriously.

“Shoutout to Claire, Alex, and Angela, who are in direct contact with us, and everyone who works with them; they have been amazing,” she says. “I look forward to showcasing more upcoming changes. What comes next will be mind-blowing, immersing people into location in a different way that is more interactive.”

Of the new features released in June 2020, which include Cloud-based maps styling and Local Context, Diana says, “Having the freedom to customize the experience a lot more is amazing.”

As a Maps GDE in 2021, Diana plans to continue working on open source tech projects that benefit the greater good, like her recently completed app for Diabetes users, ScoutX, which notifies emergency contacts when a Diabetic person’s blood glucose values are too high or too low, in case they need immediate help.

She envisions an app that expands connectivity and geolocation tracking for hikers in remote areas, using LoRaWan technologies that can withstand harsh temperatures and conditions.

“Imagine you go to Yellowstone and get lost, with no GPS signal or phone signal, but there’s a tracking device connected to a LoRaWan network sending your location,” Diana says. “It’s much easier for rescue services to find you. Rack Wireless is working on providing satellite access, as well, and having precise latitude and longitude makes mapping simple.”

In the future, Diana sees herself managing a team that makes groundbreaking discoveries and puts technologies to use to help other people.

Follow Diana on Twitter at @cotufa82

Check out Diana’s projects on GitHub

For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit our website.

For more information on Google Developer Experts, visit our website.

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


#IamaGDE: Homing Tam

#IamaGDE series presents: Google Maps

Welcome to #IamaGDE - a series of spotlights presenting Google Developer Experts (GDEs) from across the globe. Discover their stories, passions, and highlights of their community work.

image of GDE, Homing Tam

Homing Tam is a product manager at Lalamove, an on-demand logistics company. He started at the company as a product manager focusing on location-based systems, talking with developers and business users to enhance the company’s mapping solutions, before moving into product management. Now, Homing handles corporate solutions; takes care of people who want to integrate with his company’s systems; handles the API side of things to help make integration easier; and provides recommendations for developers and other technical teammates.

Becoming a Maps developer

Homing studied geomatics and computing at university, and his 2009 thesis was based on Google’s API backend. His dissertation focused on using the Google Maps API to perform mapping and overlay. His first full-time job was as a GIS analyst at Esri, the largest private software company in the world. A year and a half later, he became a solutions consultant for a different company, helping customers interested in integrating Google Maps with their software.

image of developer community meetup

Getting involved in the developer community

After Homing got involved in the Google Technology User Group (now known as Google Developer Groups), his boss at the time told him about the Google Developer Experts program. For his interview, Homing presented a product using the Google Maps APIs. When he became a GDE, he gave presentations and talks in the greater China region as a surrogate for the Google Maps Platform team. Homing is currently one of the organizers for GDG Hong Kong, organizing and giving community talks.

Favorite Maps features and current projects

Homing says the Maps Styling Wizard, the precursor to the newer Cloud-based Maps Styling features, is one of his favorite features.

“Cartography, which I studied in college, matters a lot, especially to a simple black and white schematic map, or when matching the theme of a map to a site,” he says. “I like that feature a lot.”

In 2020, Homing gave one talk on Android in the Android 11 Meetup and another talk on Maps at the first-ever virtual Hong Kong Devfest, and he’s ready to do more speaking.

“It had been a while since I gave a talk on maps, and the launch of Cloud-based Maps Styling is so exciting that I feel like it’s time to do some presentations and let the community know more about it. Beyond knowing how to use the API, you need to know how you can make the most of the API.”

Homing notes that this year, in particular, more small business owners need to know how to collect customer addresses, allow customers to place on-demand delivery orders, and update customers.

image from GDG developer community meetup in Hong Kong

In 2021, in addition to giving more talks, Homing hopes to work with the GDG organizers in Hong Kong to plan a hackathon or otherwise teach community members more about the new Maps features.

“Can we make an MVP or a really initial stage cycling app to use as a base to explore the new features and use different Google components?’

As his career continues, Homing says he has two priorities: progressing as a product manager and leveraging technology, including maps, to improve lives.

“This year was a year for everyone to become digitally literate,” he says. “With the extra time we spend on technology, we should make good use of technology to make life better.”

For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit our website.

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Connecting people to food support in their community

The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that followed exacerbated hunger for millions of people. Feeding America estimates that the number of those without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable food grew to 45 million people in 2020, including 15 million children. That equates to one in seven Americans and is a nearly 30% increase from 2019. 


Connecting people to community food services

We know people are looking for ways to get help, including on Google Search. Over the past year, searches for "food bank near me", "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)", "food stamps application" and "school lunch pick up" reached record highs. 

Starting today, you can find free food support all in one place on our new Find Food Support site. The site features a Google Maps locator tool to help you find the nearest food bank, food pantry or school lunch program pickup site in your community. We worked with No Kid Hungry, FoodFinder and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to capture 90,000 places with free food support across 50 states — with more locations to come.
A mobile device showing the new Find Food Support Google Maps locator tool where people can search for food banks, food pantries and school lunch pickup sites in their community.

Helping people know they aren’t alone

Food insecurity impacts people from all walks of life — especially since the start of the pandemic. Mass school closures made food insecurity five times worse for children who previously relied on free school lunch programs. Black and Latino communities, disabled Americans and those without a college degree have been disproportionately impacted. And according to a recent survey of military families from the Military Family Advisory Network, one in five families reported experiencing food insecurity.

Still, the stigma associated with getting help can be a barrier for many. We want people to know they’re not alone. Find Food Support features stigma-busting videos demonstrating that food insecurity impacts all kinds of people, and highlights volunteers and organizations from around the country who have stepped up to feed their communities.

The site also provides links to food support hotlines, state-by-state benefit guides, and information for specific communities, such as seniors, families and children, and military families. You can also find information about how you can donate food, time and money to support those in need.

There’s a long way to go to fully solving the hunger crisis in the U.S. and around the globe, but we hope Find Food Support helps connect people in the U.S. to free food and assistance in their time of need.