By Tracey Dowdy
Once upon a time – well, 2005 to be exact – Google revolutionized the way we interact with maps when they introduced Google Maps. To celebrate its 15th birthday, they’ve taken user feedback and implemented updates and features that make it an even more integral part of your life.
Though it started out as a simple navigation tool, each update brought a more robust service that allows users to find restaurants, gas stations, and even EV charging stations along your route. The latest update will be especially useful for commuters using public transit with displays of how hot/crowded a route may be as well as if there is normally security present. The update also makes several tools you had to hunt for in previous versions more easily accessible. Don’t worry if you don’t have the new version yet. Google tends to push out app updates slowly over a period of days and weeks.
In the updated Explore tab, you can see events happening around you and discover places to eat, shop, and other activities.
The Commute feature from previous versions of Maps has also been upgraded. Here, you can get step-by-step instructions here for your trip whether traveling by car, public transit, on foot, or by bike. You can see how crowded your bus or train is, plus access real-time rider-supplied information regarding accessibility features, temperature, if there is a women’s-only section or carriage, and if there is security is present.
In previous iterations, places stored in Saved were buried deep in the navigation menu up in the upper left-hand corner. Now, you can find those places under the Saved tab at the bottom of the Maps app.
The Contribute tab, previously called Your Contributions, allows users to share reviews and photos of places you’ve visited, suggest edits to the map, add photos, business reviews, and even add a missing place on the map. Plus, users who join Google’s Local Guides program can earn points for contributions, and those points help you reach higher levels of the Local Guides program. At Level 4, you unlock your first Local Guides badge and higher levels lead to special perks and early access to Google features and rewards like a free six-month subscription to Google One.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.