Google maps and blog.
3 Dec 2019, 5:00 pm | Google LatLong
If you visit a city and don’t see anyone using a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean they’re not there. It means the city hasn’t been built in such a way as to let them be part of things. I know this firsthand: I’m one of 65 million people around the world who uses a wheelchair, and I see every day how a city’s infrastructure can prevent people like me from being active, visible members of society.
On July 29, 2009, I was taking my usual morning walk through New York’s Central Park when a dead tree branch snapped and fell on my head. The spinal damage partly paralyzed my lower body. I spent the next seven months in the hospital, where I got the first glimpse of what my life would be like from then on. I was going to use a wheelchair for the rest of my life—and my experience as a born and bred New Yorker was about to change forever.
That’s because much of the city isn’t accessible for people like me. Fewer than one in four subway stations in New York City have wheelchair access. And plenty of places, from restaurants to schools, lack a way for me to even get inside. It was humbling to realize these barriers had been there throughout my growing up in New York; I simply hadn’t noticed.
Those realizations were in my mind when I returned to work in 2011 as an engineer on the Search team, especially because I could no longer take my usual subway route to work. However, the more I shared with colleagues, the more I found people who wanted to help solve real-world access needs. Using “20 percent time”—time spent outside day-to-day job descriptions—my colleagues like Rio Akasaka and Dianna Hu pitched in and we launched wheelchair-friendly transit directions. That initial work has now led to a full-time team dedicated to accessibility on Maps.
I’ve also collaborated with another group of great allies, stretching far beyond Google. For the past several years, I’ve worked with our Local Guides, a community of 120 million people worldwide who contribute information to Google Maps. By answering questions like “Does this place have a wheelchair accessible entrance,” Local Guides help people with mobility impairments decide where to go. Thanks to them, we can now provide crowdsourced accessibility information for more than 50 million places on Google Maps. At our annual event last year and againseveral weeks ago, I met some amazing Guides--like Emeka from NigeriaandIlankovan from Sri Lanka--who have become informal accessibility ambassadors themselves, promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities around the world.
Today, on International Day of Persons With Disabilities, I hope our work to make Google Maps more inclusive underscores what Angela Glover Blackwell wrote so powerfully about in “The Curb-Cut Effect.” When we build with accessibility in mind, it doesn’t just help people with disabilities. It helps everyone. Curb cuts in sidewalks don’t just help me cross the street—they also help parents pushing strollers, workers with deliveries and tourists with suitcases. As Blackwell puts it, building equity is not a zero-sum game—everyone benefits.
The people in wheelchairs you don’t see in your city? They've been shut out, and may not be able to be a part of society because their environment isn't accessible. And that’s not merely a loss for them. It’s a loss for everyone, including friends, colleagues and loved ones of people with disabilities. I’m grateful to those who stay mindful of the issues faced by people like me to ensure that our solutions truly help the greater community.
15 Nov 2019, 8:00 pm | Google LatLong
Every month, more than a billion people use Google Maps, and they’re not just looking for directions. Worldwide, people are searching for things to do: ideas for the perfect date night, an amazing local coffee joint, or their next adventure.
Across 24,000 cities and towns, we now have an active community of 120 million Local Guides on Google Maps who are passionate about sharing their experiences by contributing reviews, photos, lists and more. If you’re in Bangalore, Melvin John is a Local Guide whose reviews and recommendations will guide you through the city’s microbrewery scene. And if you’ve used Google Maps in Tokyo, Ayaka Ohkawa’s popular photography has probably helped you explore the city’s landmarks, cuisine and culture.
This week, at our annual Local Guides summit, Connect Live, we welcomed 200 of our most engaged Local Guides to celebrate their important contributions, share what's new in Google Maps and give them an opportunity to provide feedback directly to our teams.
Bringing Local Guide recommendations straight to you
One of the things we shared at Connect Live this week was that we’ll soon be piloting a new feature in Google Maps that will help people discover new places with help from top Local Guides.
People in Bangkok, Delhi, London, Mexico City, New York, Osaka, San Francisco, São Paulo and Tokyo will soon see top Local Guides featured in the For You tab of the Google Maps app. When you follow one of these Local Guides, their recommendations will be surfaced to you in Google Maps, so you can get inspired with ideas of things to do and places to go.
If you live in one of the nine test cities, keep an eye on the For You tab of Google Maps, you just might discover something new with help from a local.
13 Nov 2019, 4:00 pm | Google LatLong
Google Maps has made travel easier than ever before. You can scout out a neighborhood before booking a hotel, get directions on the go and even see what nearby restaurants the locals recommend thanks to auto-translated reviews.
But when you're in a foreign country where you don't speak or read the language, getting around can still be difficult -- especially when you need to speak with someone. Think about that anxiety-inducing time you tried to talk to a taxi driver, or that moment you tried to casually ask a passerby for directions.
To help, we're bringing Google Maps and Google Translate closer together. This month, we’re adding a new translator feature that enables your phone to speak out a place's name and address in the local lingo. Simply tap the new speaker button next to the place name or address, and Google Maps will say it out loud, making your next trip that much simpler. And when you want to have a deeper conversation, Google Maps will quickly link you to the Google Translate app.
This text-to-speech technology automatically detects what language your phone is using to determine which places you might need help translating. For instance, if your phone is set to English and you’re looking at a place of interest in Tokyo, you’ll see the new speaker icon next to the place’s name and address so you can get a real-time translation.
The new feature will be rolling out this month on Android and iOS with support for 50 languages and more on the way.
12 Nov 2019, 11:00 am | Google LatLong
For Americans, Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching–which means a time of food, family and fun. As we kick off this holiday season, feast your eyes on our best Google Maps trends and tips to help you save time, reduce stress and navigate the festivities with ease.
Ditch the traffic
Thanksgiving road trips can be special (extended karaoke sesh, anyone?), but they can also be stressful if you end up stuck in traffic. To make sure you don’t get caught in the gridlock, we analyzed 2018 traffic data to pinpoint the best and worst times to leave for your Thanksgiving road trip.
Nationally, we see that the day before Thanksgiving between 3-4 p.m. is the worst time to hit the road, but traffic clears up significantly by 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. To avoid any fowl moods after Thanksgiving, try your best to avoid the Friday or Sunday afternoon rush and leave in the morning when there are significantly less cars on the road. For a closer look at holiday traffic patterns and the best and worst times to leave in your city, make sure to check out our interactive website.
Avoid the crowds
Holiday crowds can easily transform a quick stop into an hours-long adventure. To save you time, we analyzed Popular Times data at key holiday destinations during Thanksgiving week so you can know exactly when the crowds tend to peak and when to avoid them. Pro-tip: If you hate lines, avoid the grocery store at all costs on Wednesday evening!
Let Google Maps be your ultimate Thanksgiving sidekick
Whether you’re headed to the sun or snow this Thanksgiving, Google Maps is here to help you get around, explore your city and get your holiday to-do list done efficiently–while maintaining your sanity. Check out our favorite tips to keep your Thanksgiving as stress free as possible:
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-gasp!-found out the turkey was burned–use Google Maps to search for gas stations, a butcher or other places along your drive so you can tackle your tasks without going too far out of your way.
Share your ETA: No one likes a cold turkey dinner. Let friends and family know when they can expect you with just a few taps.
Find hidden gems: If you’re heading home for the first time in a while or traveling to a new city, use the Explore tab find the best restaurants, sights and events happening in your area.
Don’t get lost: If you’re exploring on foot, Live View can help you figure out which way to walk with arrows and directions clearly overlaid on the map.
Stay organized: If you’re traveling by plane, you can easily access your flight reservation–in addition to your car, restaurant, and hotel reservations–right from your settings so you don’t need to search for your confirmation emails.
Save precious time: Use the Popular Times feature to see when holiday destinations are most crowded so you can know exactly when to avoid them.
Book with just one tap: Whether you’re getting the family together for a holiday meal or activity, book restaurant reservations or tickets right from Google Maps to save time.
Interested in more holiday trends from Google Maps? Check out www.mappingthanksgiving.com for local traffic information and trending places in 25 cities across the country.
24 Oct 2019, 4:00 pm | Google LatLong
Are you on the hunt for the best deep dish pizza in Chicago? Or fresh guava pastries in Los Angeles? Now we have a list for that!
To help you hunt down the greatest places to eat or drink in town, we started the Local Favorites lists. These lists highlight the most loved restaurants in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Every day, people visit Business Profiles on Google to look at reviews, menus, or photos, and use that information to make decisions about where to eat or what new places to try. The Local Favorites lists use these ratings, reviews and actions people take on Business Profiles--like calling a business, clicking on the website, or requesting directions---to identify what restaurants to highlight. So you know it’s customers like you and Local Guides everywhere who are helping you discover the most loved spots.
We’re also celebrating the top ten “Hidden Gems” and “Rising Stars” restaurants in each city. Found by few and loved by all, Hidden Gems have great ratings but at a lower volume. Whereas, Rising Stars are less than two years old, but are quickly gaining popularity.
Explore all the Local Favorites, Rising Stars, and Hidden Gems online, where you can filter by city and restaurant type. Find them on the Maps explore tab under “Lists,” and identify them in the wild through a Local Favorite window sticker.
Continue supporting your favorite businesses by leaving reviews, adding photos, or sharing their Business Profiles on Google with friends, and they might become a future Local Favorite. Give it up to this year’s Local Favorites!
17 Oct 2019, 4:00 pm | Google LatLong
Google Maps has always helped people get from point A to B in the easiest way possible. Today, we’re adding more tools that reflect real-time contributions from the community so you can stay even more informed when you’re behind the wheel. Here’s what’s changing:
First, we’re adding the ability for people to report crashes, speed traps and traffic slowdowns right from their iPhone. This feature has been one of our most popular on Android, and we’re excited to expand it to iOS.
Second, we’re introducing the ability to report four new types of incidents–construction, lane closures, disabled vehicles, and objects on the road (like debris)–so you can quickly know if you’ll encounter one of these potential obstructions on your ride, and plan accordingly. To report an incident, simply tap on the + sign and then on “Add a report.”
Both features start rolling out on Android and iOS in over 40 countries this week.
10 Oct 2019, 4:00 pm | Google LatLong
Think about the last time you walked to a new place. How many streets did you cross to get there? Which intersections were the most complex? How did you prepare before making a turn? And how did you know you weren’t lost?
Now think about making that same trip if you were one of the 36 million people who are blind worldwide, or one of the 217 million people more who have moderate-to-severe vision impairments.
As a legally blind woman living in Tokyo, I know that getting around unfamiliar environments can be a challenge. I can easily commute from my front door to my desk at work; it’s a trip I take regularly and know well. But going some place new and unfamiliar can be an intimidating experience without sight to guide you. In some cases, I’ll have a friend to join me on a trip, but in others I may decide not to take the journey at all.
Detailed voice guidance in Google Maps helps people with visual impairments
Starting today, World Sight Day, Google Maps is rolling out a new feature that gives people the ability to receive more detailed voice guidance and new types of verbal announcements for walking trips. This feature is the first in Google Maps to be built from the ground up by, and for, people with vision impairments. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work closely with the Maps team on this project as an early advisor and tester—outside of my day job as a business analyst in the Tokyo office.
With this feature, I can navigate the streets of Tokyo with more comfort and confidence. As I take my journey, Google Maps proactively lets me know that I’m on the correct route, the distance until my next turn and the direction I’m walking in. As I approach large intersections, I get a heads-up to cross with added caution. And if I accidentally leave my route, I’ll get a spoken notification that I'm being re-routed.
Frequent updates like these not only help a visually impaired person get from A to B, they can also give us more confidence and reassurance when we travel alone. With detailed voice guidance in Google Maps, my journey fades into the background and I can focus more on what I’ll do at my final destination. This may not sound extraordinary to those with sight, but for people who are blind or have low vision, this can help us explore new and unfamiliar places.
Building a more helpful Google Maps for everyone
I hope this new technology will give more people added confidence when navigating unfamiliar routes--after all, building for everyone is core to our work at Google.
While this new feature can be enormously helpful to people with visual impairments, it can also help someone who wants a more screen-free experience on their next walking trip. Similar to the announcements you might hear at crosswalks or on a bus, everyone can benefit from it. Not everyone will need this level of assistance, but it’s great to know it’s available and only a tap away.
Detailed voice guidance for walking navigation starts rolling out today on Android and iOS. Right now, it’s available in English in the United States and Japanese in Japan, with support for additional languages and countries on the way.
To turn the feature on, go to your Google Maps settings and select “Navigation.” At the bottom of the list you'll find the option to enable "Detailed voice guidance," beneath the “Walking options” heading.
27 Aug 2019, 4:00 pm | Google LatLong
Google Maps has always helped you get from place to place, whether you’re driving, walking, biking or taking public transit. And we know that transit journeys can be complex–often involving multiple modes of transportation to help you get around town. Today, we’re making it easy to pair transit directions with biking and ridesharing options so you can travel that first or last mile with ease.
Say you’re taking the subway home from a friend’s house, but your apartment is a bit too far from the station to get to on foot. Catching a ridesharing vehicle can help you travel that short distance quickly. Or, you’re headed to work at the peak of the busy back-to-school season so you need to ride your bike to the nearest bus stop to make that important 9 a.m. meeting on time.
Here’s how it works:
Enter your destination in the search box, tap on “Directions” and then on the transit tab. From there, you’ll automatically see routes that feature ridesharing and cycling options paired with transit directions. If you’re taking a ridesharing vehicle, you’ll see helpful information about each leg of your trip: how much your ride will cost, how long the wait is, if there’s traffic on your ride, and when your bus or train departs. You can also choose your favorite rideshare provider and other available ride options like pool or economy.
If you’re biking, then you’ll see routes tailored for cyclists along with everything you need to know about the transit portion of your journey. All of this information is automatically factored into your total travel time and ETA so you can know exactly when you’ll get to your destination.
Transit directions paired with biking and ridesharing will start rolling out in the coming weeks on Android and iOS in 30 countries around the globe, with more coming soon.
23 Aug 2019, 4:00 pm | Google LatLong
When I was a kid, my mom would tell me on every birthday she wanted me to have a big goal in life: Travel to as many countries as my years on Earth. And though I'm far from that ambitious target, my mom did instill a major travel bug in me.
But no matter where I travel, I struggle with the same issues many people face: pricey phone bills, subpar photos, a language barrier and, well, getting extremely lost.
So when I traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico last month, I sought out ways to combat these typical tourist problems. And thanks to my Pixel 3a, I was able to make real progress for the next time I visit more countries on my bucket list. Here’s how I did it.
Navigating on Maps without pricey data fees
Even when I’m traveling, I like to be able to use my phone the same way I would at home. (Meaning, a lot.) For this trip, I decided to set my phone up with Google Fi so I could have unlimited international usage and great coverage. At the end of my trip, my phone bill netted out to be a fraction of my typical charge when I travel internationally.
Thanks to my cheaper data plan, I was also able to navigate with help from Maps. I’d never admit it myself, but some people might say I’m bad at directions. (Okay, a lot of people might say that.) In any case, I really leaned into using Live View in Google Maps, a tool that literally has a big blue arrow staring at me on my screen, pointing me exactly in the direction I should go. Even when in rural areas, outside of cell service, I was grateful to be able to use Google Maps in offline mode—like when I visited the Monte Alban ruins.
A new way to break down the language barrier
I’m ashamed to say my Spanish isn’t great, so I put the Pixel 3a to the test. Could it magically help me speak a new language?
Within the camera app, there’s a nifty feature in Google Lens that allows you to hover over text in another language for real-time translations. This came in handy in bustling markets, local restaurants and juice stands that only had menus in Spanish. Even if you don’t have a Pixel phone, you can download the Google Lens app on other Android or iOS devices to try it out yourself.
The Google Assistant also came in handy when I needed language help. It was easy to ask the Assistant questions like, “Hey Google, how do you say ‘where is the bathroom’ in Spanish?” and get help converting costs from pesos to dollars.
Taking my vacation photos to the next level
In a city as beautiful as Oaxaca, I knew I’d be leaning heavily on the camera quality of the Pixel 3a. I snapped photos throughout a cooking demo making tortillas from scratch, and used features like portrait mode and Night Sight to make the most out of my vacation pics. Here are just a few highlights:
My Pixel 3a was the ultimate tour guide
I know, I know, it’s just a phone, but I have to say I feel indebted to my Pixel 3a for showing me such a special time in Oaxaca. I think I’ll take it to my next dream travel destination: Japan.
8 Aug 2019, 10:00 am | Google LatLong
Not only does Google Maps help you navigate, explore and get things done at home, but it’s also a powerful travel companion. After you’ve booked your trip, these new tools will simplify every step of your trip once you’ve touched down–from getting around a new city to reliving every moment once you’re home.
Now, you can use Google Maps to see all of your flight and hotel reservations in one place–a lifesaver when you’re checking in at the airport or en route to the next hotel in your destination. Simply tap on the three gray lines at the top left corner of your screen, and then on “Your Places”. Then, hit the “Reservations” tab where you’ll see a list of your upcoming trips. Selecting your trip will instantly pull up your reservations, and you can even access them if you’re offline, so no need to worry if you’re off the grid with no service or traveling internationally without a data plan.
Get around confidently
There’s nothing like exploring a city on foot–it’s a great way to take in the sights and sounds of a new place. But it can be hard to know exactly which direction to go. With a beta feature called Live View, you can use augmented reality (AR) to better see which way to walk. Arrows and directions are placed in the real world to guide your way. We’ve tested Live View with the Local Guides and Pixel community over the past few months, and are now expanding the beta to Android and iOS devices that support ARCore and ARKit starting this week.
Find amazing local food
Real talk: Food is one of the main highlights of any vacation. With Google Maps, you can quickly find restaurants tailored to your tastes with Your Match, see how long the wait is, and even book a reservation without ever leaving the app (and no, we’re not talking about delicious dinner apps). With the popular dishes feature, you can quickly find out what the must-try items on the menu are.
Soak in the memories and share them with friends
The best part about any life-changing trip? Reliving the memories, and sharing them with loved ones. If you’ve chosen to turn your Location History setting on, you can now use the updated version of Timeline to easily remember that amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurant you dined at or the cute vintage shop you popped into. You’ll also be able to see all of the places you went to in a country or a city, and even drill down to the categories of places you visited–including restaurants, shops, attractions, hotels and airports. So the next time someone asks you for trip recommendations, you can easily export the places you loved to a list, make notes about exactly what you liked (like the great picnic spot by the Louvre), and share that list with friends and family.
You can expect to see flight and hotel reservations, Live View (in countries where Street View is available), and the new Timeline on your phones in the coming weeks. Reservations and Live View are coming to Android and iOS, and the new Timeline is available on Android. To learn more about Google Maps, check out our website.